Speaking to the Australian media at the Frankfurt motor show last week, the senior vice president of Mini, Sebastian Mackensen, said that with the appointment of a new head of design, the company is embarking on a new design challenge, one which remains critical to the brand as the styling of its vehicles are hugely important to its customer base.
“The design is of utmost importance because Mini is a lifestyle brand,” Mackensen said.
“I don’t like that word too much… but in the meaning of that word it is a lifestyle brand you don’t buy transportation, if you purchase a Mini if you want to drive from A to B, you can buy many different vehicles if you want to do that for smaller cost… so if you drive a Mini you buy emotion and driving fun and you also buy a certain statement and belonging to a brand, and part of that brand statement is not just the heritage and history of the brand but clearly as well the design.”
According to Mackensen, changes coming to the brand will be noticeable however even a six-year-old child should be able to tell what is a new Mini from having been able to identify the current and older vehicles.
“If he wouldn’t see a Mini driving around a corner and wouldn’t say a Mini, we would’ve made a mistake in the design but that doesn’t mean a Mini needs to look the same for 20 years in a row, that’s a fine line and I think we need to progress, every brand every design needs to progress but you need to have certain anchor points and staples that you shouldn’t play with.”
As of this month, Mini has appointed Oliver Heilmer as its new head of design, having taken over from the previous boss Anders Warming who set off to design for the reborn Borgward marque.
Meanwhile, any plans of Mini creating a larger model in the future appear to have been shelved, with the brand focusing on its core models and even further reducing its model range going forward.
“We have no plans to stretch that further right now… We have reduced actually the complexity of the portfolio in recent years, because the Mini Paceman, the Roadster and the Coupe didn’t get successor models and we are happy with that decision because it’s the niche of the niche.”
Mackensen admitted that whilst markets such as Australia may be able to absorb large Mini models, it’s still not on the brand’s agenda.
“When we go into size, you might be able to absorb a bigger Mini but we have no plan to do a bigger mini beyond a Countryman.”
Changes to the Mini design philosophy under Heilmer will become more apparent and visible with upcoming concept vehicles and future models.