The new Mini 5 Door will end a decade-long sales plateau and take the brand to record heights in Australia, the company’s local boss says.
The new 5 Door body style adds rear doors, a fifth seat and more rear legroom and boot space over the regular three-door hatch for an $1100 premium, giving it an initial starting price of $27,750 for the Cooper before the $25,600 Cooper One slots in beneath it early next year.
Mini expects five-door-loving Australians to make the new model the brand’s most popular in our market once vehicles start arriving in significant numbers in February.
Speaking with CarAdvice at the launch of the new model in Adelaide, Mini Australia national manager Kai Bruesewitz said the 5 Door would help take the company to a new level in Australia in terms of sales.
“With the 5 Door version and the investment that the BMW Group – and in particular Mini – has undertaken to bring the car to market, and given the 5 Door segment here in Australia, we are obviously looking to make the next step,” Bruesewitz said.
The local boss is confident 2014 will be Mini’s fourth consecutive year of record sales in Australia, though admits it has its work cut out for it. The brand made a slow start to the year after launching the all-new third-generation three-door hatch in April, battling both low run-out numbers of the old model and low early supply of the new car.
To the end of September, Mini had delivered just 1738 vehicles, down 12 per cent compared with the same time last year. To beat last year’s tally, it needs to sell 798 cars in the final three months of the year, an average of 266 per month.
Strong recent sales suggest it could achieve this goal, with 258 cars delivered across the country in September, nevertheless Bruesewitz admits it will not be easy.
“It’s challenging, but we’re confident to achieve that. I of course know what my targets are for the remaining three months, and the year is pretty much back-loaded, which is due to the fact that the three-door was launched in late April.
“We knew that we could expect significant volume in July, August and September, and with the order bank we have we are now in a position to deliver on those targets.
“It’s not a walk in the park, definitely not, but I’d better achieve them.”
Bruesewitz was cagey on the brand’s projections for 2015, but when pushed admitted that he would be disappointed if next year’s figure did not begin with a ‘3’.
“That’s 15 per cent [year-on-year growth], and that’s what I would consider significant,” he said.
Despite recent records, Mini sales have been largely stagnant for the past decade. Last year’s record result was only 438 cars ahead of the brand’s total in 2005, and only 266 ahead of 2007 when the range was half size it is today without the Countryman, Paceman, Coupe and Roadster body styles.
Bruesewitz said he had no concerns about Mini becoming too commonplace in Australia.
“We’re certainly not mainstream with Mini, and there’s nothing bad about mainstream because we’re all in the car industry to sell as many cars as we can for a certain price.
“We obviously would not send people home because we would be grateful if we could bring more customers in.”
The three-door line-up will get a boost around the middle of next year when the high-performance Mini JCW arrives with a circa-$48,000 price tag.
Following that, Bruesewitz said the new six-door Mini Clubman could reach local showrooms either late next year or early in 2016 after its scheduled unveiling at the September’s 2015 Frankfurt auto show.
“We are hoping to offer it here as well, because I think that’s going to be a great car … a bigger car, more a wagon-style car. It shouldn’t be interfering with the 5 Door.”
He said a successor to the second-generation Mini Cooper Cabrio was on the way but still “not that close”, suggesting it won’t appear until 2016.
“I’ve seen the spy shots but I haven’t seen the actual car,” Bruesewitz revealed.
Next year will also see the phase-out of the slow-selling Mini Coupe and Roadster models.
Mini Australia product planning manager Daniel Silverwood told CarAdvice local sales would wind up in the second half of 2015 after production of those models ceases around the middle of next year.
The two-seat Coupe and Roadster models have proved a tough sell for Mini both in Australia and abroad. The brand has sold just 77 Coupes and Roadsters combined this year, down 27 per cent compared with the same time last year, and managed just four in September.