When BMW brought the retro-styled MINI to U.S. showrooms in 2001, it was an instant hit with shoppers, but the car had its share of critics, too. "Yeah, it's a nice, modern spin on a classic car," they said, "but where do you go from here? How can you turn that one model into a full line?"
Over the past 11 years, BMW has largely silenced those critics by adding five more MINI models -- each hewing close to the original in silhouette and styling, with just enough variation to make it distinct.
But MINI isn't resting on its laurels. In fact, sources in Germany tell AutoNews that the company is planning as many as four new models, which will roll out over the next few years.
The first of those models we've known about for some time: the MINI Clubvan. It'll share a platform with the MINI Countryman crossover, though preliminary images indicate that the Clubvan will be styled more like the MINI Clubman. (Yes, we know that MINI model names are close enough to be very confusing.) The Clubvan is slated to arrive in showrooms this fall.
The second new MINI is the Paceman, which debuted during the 2011 Detroit Auto Show and has been confirmed as a 2013 model. MINI describes the Paceman as a "crossover coupe" -- which is spot-on accurate, since it's essentially a two-door version of the Countryman. The Paceman is expected to hit showrooms early next year.
As for the other MINI models, sources say that BMW is planning a station wagon based on the classic MINI Hardtop. And there are rumors of a notchback sedan (i.e. a more conventional-looking sedan with a well-defined trunk). The latter may be especially tricky to pull off, since it would differ radically from MINI's iconic, squared-off silhouette.
There's no word yet on pricing for any of these new models, but MINI seems to have found its sweet spot around $22,000, so we'd expect them to land within spitting distance of that figure.
We're curious to know how both MINI fans and detractors feel about the company's new models and expansion plans. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below -- and be sure to check our sister blog, GreenCarReports, for more on these latest rumors.