BMW News: MINI Crossover Delayed, Isetta Based On Toyota iQ?

August 31, 2009

There's been a lot of chatter about the MINI Roadster (also known as the MINI Speedster) which is set to debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show in just a couple of weeks. That's not surprising: everyone likes a roadster, and the sporty renderings popping up on the web have sparked the interest of journalists and enthusiasts alike. The MINI Crossover, on the other hand, hasn't been quite as successful at generating buzz -- and as it turns out, that's probably just as well.

Although the MINI Crossover and the Speedster were expected to share a stage at Frankfurt, BMW has confirmed that it will not be showing a production version of the Crossover until 2010. (The model should appear in showrooms during the 2011 model year.) Of course, concept models of the Crossover exist, like the one shown in Paris in 2008, so depending on the advice of MINI's PR strategists, the company could trot out one of those again; however, we feel that's pretty unlikely. Some speculate that BMW will try again at the Geneva Motor Show next spring.

According to a MINI spokesman, the delay stems from marketing concerns: "[W]e wish to first explore differentiation within future MINI smaller models and get feedback." TCC translates that sentence (and its split infinitive) as, "We need to figure out where the Crossover fits in the overall MINI lineup before we toss it into the marketplace." Given that the MINI lineup is starting to look slightly uniform, we think it's probably a good idea for the company to come up with a gameplan now rather than later.

In other MINI news: BMW is reportedly in talks with Toyota about a future technology partnership. Rumor has it that BMW is considering the Toyota iQ as the platform for its relaunch of the mid-20th-century Isetta marque and/or as the basis for a new sub-subcompact under the MINI badge. In exchange, Toyota would have access to the MINI platform in developing a future model of its own.

While that says very interesting things about BMW's ambitions, it also says a lot about the Toyota iQ, which is proving to be a very popular model, indeed. Sounds like Toyota's plans to bump up the iQ's U.S. launch (as a Scion) may pay big dividends.

[Edmunds]

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