When Mini relaunched under BMW in the early 2000s, there was just a single car – the three-door Cooper Hardtop. There have been other Mini models throughout the brand's history, but the small three-door runabout isn't just an iconic car in the automaker's wheelhouse. It's among the most iconic rides in the entire history of the automobile. That's why a report from MotoringFile.com suggesting the model could get the axe is both surprising, and for Mini fans, rather worrying.
According to the report, "sources" are credited as saying Mini's parent company BMW is talking about dropping the three-door at the end of the current model's lifespan, which should wrap in 2022. As much as we hate to say it, sales numbers over recent years could support such rumors. Going back to 2010 the automaker sold 29,658 units compared to just 11,256 in 2017. Sales in the U.S. have steadily declined since 2012 but fell through the floor in 2016 and 2017, and 2018 looks like it could be even worse. To be fair, the five-door model is suffering too, with only 7,723 sold last year. Meanwhile, the Countryman is Mini's largest model and it's on pace to have a record year in 2018.
We reached out to Mini USA to see if there's any truth behind the report. A Mini spokesman told us in an email that company policy is to not comment on speculation or rumors, but also went on to say there were no discussions about dropping the three-door. Furthermore, the spokesman said the Mini hardtop "is the core of the Mini brand."
That's reassuring news for Mini fans, especially considering the insatiable demand for SUVs in the United States. We still can't help but think, however, that plunging sales figures for both the three-door and five-door hardtop aren't of some concern to executives. For the immediate future at least, Mini's iconic runabout seems secure.