September 11, 2008

EDITORIAL: 2010 Mini Crossman SUV Concept set to ruin brand heritage, defy logic at Paris debut

At nearly 14 feet long with a 11 foot long wheelbase, any pretense of an SUV being sold as a MINI borders on the clinically insane.

But that hasn't stopped BMW — the parent company of MINI — from applying horrid marketing groupthink to a world-renowned brand.

And thus, lipsticked pigs like the Mini Crossman Concept are born.

Since the first Morris Mini rolled off the line at Longbridge, Birmingham in 1959, the Mini has been known for exceptional space efficiency combined with world-beating handling and — in the hands of rally pilots like Timo Maakinen — world championship caliber performance.

All of which make the forthcoming Crossman SUV an insipid, overwrought creation that — judging by recent sales figures — is completely out of touch with the rest of the market.

As Dodge and Chrysler have shown by virtue of their flirtations with bankruptcy, the SUV market has all but collapsed. And now that Sin City has given up on the Hummer, it doesn't take an economist to realize that the demand for poseur trucklets of all sizes has taken a serious — and likely permanent — beating.

Furthermore, Mini will be the latecomer to an already overbooked party.

While the official MSRP has yet to be set, the production version of the all-wheel-drive Crossman will likely sell for about $2000 to $3000 more than the front-wheel-drive only Mini Clubman S, which offers nearly the same amount of space and sells for $24,100.

So, at $26,000 for a base Crossman, Mini's new trucklet will compete with everything from the Jeep Patriot to the lease-returned BMW X3 3.0i. When there are a dozen or so products all trying to survive in a shrinking market, the future doesn't bode well for newcomers.

No matter how much faux Britannia blush BMW decides to smear on its off-roading porcine plunker, it will still squeal under the strain of a fading and cliched niche.

Think I'm wrong?
Give me an earful in the comments.


[Photo Credit: BMW AG]

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