The Mini sedan would use BMW's front-wheel-drive platform that underpins the X1 and Clubman and might share the wheelbase and frontend styling with the Clubman as well, according to Autocar. Mini's execs think the four-door would perform especially well in North America and China, where there's less demand for hatchbacks.
Ralph Mahler, vice president of Mini's product management, hinted at the possibility of the four-door to Autocar. "For example, in Asia and the US, the sedan segment is very big. This is very interesting to us, of course," he said. Mahler admits that many people don't know about the Mini-based vehicles with trunks from the '60s, like the Riley Elf, so it would be hard to market the new model on that heritage.
This could be the perfect time to add a Mini sedan to the lineup, and it might not be a completely new idea for the brand under its BMW stewardship; a rumor from 2012 shows that Mini's bosses considered a four-door at least once before. The company launched new versions of its Hardtop, Convertible, and Clubman, and even added four-door and all-wheel-drive versions of the Hardtop to further blur the lines between that car, the Clubman, and the Countryman. The next-generation Countryman crossover should debut later this year, and the brand reportedly cancelled the Superleggera Vision roadster and Rocketman compact, as Mini has chosen to go big with its new models and its lineup breadth.
There are only so many versions of a hatchback a company can make, and the short-lived Mini Coupe wasn't exactly a huge success. If Mini is going to try a new body style, a sedan actually makes some sense, even if we'll probably prefer the look and practicality of the hatches.