Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Geneva Preview: Mini Fixes Its Biggest Mistake

Guess who's back? Back again. After a lengthy hiatus Kill It With Fire is back to blogging about cars. Going forward the goal will be to cover the day's most interesting automotive story. Occasionally, longer features will deviate from the plan from time to time.

Mini, as a brand has enjoyed a unique trifecta of almost unanimous praise from the media, respect from auto enthusiasts and appreciation from the general consumer. A brand that started with one core product and developed more variations than one can keep separate has made few mistakes. If one had to pick its weakest product, the easy choice would be the Clubman. A Mini that just never quite looked right as if someone forgot to check the "constraint proportions" box when enlarging. Looking a bit too long and narrow for its own good (Ford Flex syndrome) the Clubman clearly showed that Mini was too cautious in expanding its lineup in fear of critics claiming that "it's no longer Mini". The half-hearted Clubman effort was lukewarm critically or sales wise and Mini has done much better with the better proportioned yet "roots forgetting" Countryman. The Paceman follow-up was even better and for the second generation Clubman, Mini ditches the stretched look for a proportional Paceman inspired design. No longer is the Clubman an afterthought to fill a niche but rather a product with its own identity and direction from the start. In all honesty I would have not been surprised if the Clubman never made it to the next generation as it seemed redundant after the Countryman but apparently there is space in-between and this time around it won't be so awkward.

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