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Here in the U.S., the Smart ForTwo has proven less than successful considering the needs of most of drivers. Sold here on the merits of its efficiency, the Smart's true element is in the cities of Europe, where the small size allows nose-in parking and a diesel powertrain that's actually pleasant to drive. Mini and its BMW parents think that there may be something to Smart's success, even though the company has said in the past that small city cars aren't profitable.

According to an Autocar source, a Mini city car concept may debut within the next year. Part of the impetus for the reversal is BMW's backing of a three-cylinder engine, as well as a heavy focus on component sharing with the upcoming BMW MegaCity and other models under the BMW umbrella, along with new production techniques. The car should be smaller than the current Mini, though larger than the Smart. Details like chassis layout and styling have not been divulged, though back in the Rover days, Mini showed off the Spiritual concept (pictured above) and there was talk of a production version. However, how it fares in the marketplace will hinge on how well BMW packs value and the trademark Mini verve into its tiny shell.

[Source: Autocar]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      Mini should build the Rocketman and slot that below the Mini Hardtop. That would be a promising Mini city car. As long as Mini keeps the price reasonable.
      • 5 Years Ago
      MINI needs this yesterday.

      When the '01 version came out so much bigger than the original, there already was room for a city car that was closer to the original's size.

      Then the Mini grew a bit again with its latest redesign. And the Clubman and Countryman are even bigger.

      Mini needs something particularly small (A-segment) again.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Focus on making 'Mini' cars instead of butt-ugly wagons and SUVs.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @John H.

        The smart is a failure because it's not practical due to its 2-seat layout, it's not particularly economical, and it's got a lousy transmission.

        If Mini introduced an A-segment vehicle somewhat similar to those pictured, it'd have 4 seats and 3 or 5 doors. Much more practical. And larger than the smart.

        The difference between the smart and the A-segment is pretty big. It's the difference between the smart and the M-B A-Class, Fiat Panda/500, Renault Twingo, Toyota Aygo/Citroen C1/Peugeot 107.

        @ calimacproman,

        The First-gen BMW Mini went on sale in Europe in April 2001.
        • 5 Years Ago
        John H. , I agree with you that the Smart is irrelevant for most US markets, but there is a whole other world outside the US.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Really, even assuming BMW has seen US Smart sales lately?
        Americans don't really want these microcars if they can afford something larger." - JohnH

        The primary intended markets for an A-segment or sub-A microcar from Mini - as was the case with the old Spiritual concept pictured - were Europe and Japan. The old Rover Mini was an enormous hit in Japan in its later years, so much so that most Mini production was exported for that market. Nothing for Americans, I'm afraid.

        • 5 Years Ago

        That's the classic... take something small and nifty and efficient and then bring it here and package it so it is not really efficient at all and then claim that americans don't want small cars.
        Maybe there are a good number of us who just want good small cars.
        Smart itself has some great points... if it had a decent tranny and an efficient engine choice in the states.

        The small size some people just dig but to others is a massive advantage.
        People always say it will be great in cities like NYC.
        Then others come and say that people in NYC don't own cars.
        But if you have ever driven through NYC then you will notice that indeed there are a lot of cars there.
        And if you have ever spent 45 minutes of your life trying to locate parking within a block of your apartment in Park Slope Bklyn and then another 15 minutes doing a 97 point job slinking into the space you finally do find... then you will realize there is a solid market for small cars in the US too.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Really, even assuming BMW has seen US Smart sales lately?

        Americans don't really want these microcars if they can afford something larger.
        • 5 Years Ago
        please don't make it look like those in the picture, not appealing... the first BMW MINI was an 02 model not an 01 anyway inline6
      • 5 Years Ago
      Because the Cooper isn't small enough for some weird people. Hopefully it won't look like the Fiat 500-ripoff in the picture.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I figured they couldn't be recent concepts.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah, these concepts hit the show circuit in 1996. They were the British in-house proposals for the 2001 Mini replacement from BMW-Rover.

        The company gave the nod to the BMW-type of upsized Mini replacement instead

        They're not Fiat 500 ripoffs.
      • 5 Years Ago
      a mini mini? now THAT'S thinking.

      if BMW is serious bout this being a city car theyll have to have a basic a to b car, maybe hurting the brand image of mini. not asking 5k more because its 'quirky' or stylish. thats if they want to make a success like the original.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I expect a city car from Mini to be priced in the sub-compact range....No thanks, I'll take a Fiesta.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The SMART was never coneived of or sold in the US on the merits of its efficiency or they would have actually given it an efficient engine choice.

      It has instead been sold on the merits of its looks and euro sensibility - with a very inefficient engine and unpleasant gear box.
      This has led full speed to a marketing failure.
      Not the first time US companies have made that exact mistake and probably won't be the last.... as they just keep walking off muttering about how US car buyers don't like small euro cars really.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hmmmmm, man all I can say after looking at that photo is "Seriously????" Also, love the stacked headlights on the 4 door... Did the designers do this to give it more individuality? I'd say that was time "not" well spent.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good idea, just dont end up like this Smart car.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah if you read Farris already gave me the heads up, thanks. And Jared wins, +1 for Jared.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Aw shucks you're right... Someone just forwarded that to me in an email saying it was a Smart that got sandwiched between two trucks in New Orleans. Brownie points to anyone that can figure out what type of car that is.
        • 5 Years Ago
        What is most amazing is that the driver actually survived! Wow!
        • 5 Years Ago
        How do you even know that's a Smart? The wheel design tells me it isn't, but you're trying to say that small city cars are unsafe, it's not an effective image because from the looks of it, any car other than a limo with 10' crush zones at either end would be toast in that scenario.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That's not a Smart car that was crushed. It was a Ford Escape: http://www.snopes.com/photos/accident/smallcar.asp
        • 5 Years Ago
        It looks like the laws of physics were preserved.
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