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Next Mini Countryman Will Be Bigger, Hardtop Will Be Smaller

2021 Mini Countryman
Countryman customers want something bigger than this.
Craig Cole/CNET

What's happening

Mini will grow the Countryman SUV while also reducing the size of the Cooper Hardtop, officials confirmed Thursday.

Why it matters

This puts more space in the Mini lineup for the introduction of a new crossover previewed by the Aceman concept.

What's next

The electric Aceman will enter production in the coming years.

With the debut of the Mini Aceman concept this week, the company is not only previewing its future design language, but a new model for its lineup, as well. Mini says the production Aceman will fill the space between the base Hardtop and larger Countryman. And in fact, Mini is actively working to create more space between these core models.

Speaking to members of the media on Thursday, Adrian Van Hooydonk, BMW Group's senior vice president of design, and Oliver Heilmer, head of Mini design, confirmed the next-generation Countryman will grow in size. On the other hand, the new Hardtop -- the car most people simply recognize as the Mini Cooper -- will shrink.

"The Mini Countryman is supposed to grow," Heilmer said. "We did get a lot of feedback from markets that the Countryman is quite a good car but it could be slightly bigger." Heilmer later added, "The people need more space."

The new Mini Hardtop is expected to be smaller than the current one.

Mini

It certainly seems like this would go against the whole point of the Mini brand, but as vehicles get larger overall, the company will always try to offer "the smallest possible [car] in the segment," Van Hooydonk said. "It's a constant struggle."

The good news is, it sounds like the next-generation Hardtop will be smaller than the current car -- something we noticed last year when Mini released photos of a prototype. "In the hatch, our achievement was really to get it smaller than the predecessor," Heilmer said. "This was the biggest goal we had."

Widening the bookends of the Mini spectrum leaves more space for the products in between, and that bodes well for the Aceman. This creates more breathing room for Mini's other models, too, including the Clubman.

On that note, however, Van Hooydonk admits the Aceman "probably has more potential than Clubman" in terms of customer demand. The Aceman is taller than the Clubman but shorter in length, and has a higher ride height. Still, Van Hooydonk said "time will tell" if the Clubman can hold on after the Aceman enters production in the next few years.