MINI

MINI logoWhen consumers feel that today’s selection of new vehicles is boring, they can always visit a MINI dealership. The English brand, now owned by German manufacturer BMW, is widely known for selling nimble and fun-to-drive small cars.

2025 MINI Cooper S

Even their design sets MINI vehicles apart from the sea of blandness that composes most of the automotive industry. Each MINI model can be unmistakably recognized as one, and not only are its models’ sheetmetal instantly distinguishable, but their interiors stand out as well, although recent products have toned down their uniqueness, possibly by customer demand and through development cost savings in conjunction with parent company BMW.

2025 MINI Countryman John Cooper Works

The brand’s rejuvenation right after the turn of the century started with a modern-day reinterpretation of the iconic Mini hatchback, but the lineup expanded, and bigger vehicles were developed to fit the North American market. As the company said, U.S. consumers visited MINI showrooms looking for a small car, but left empty-handed because MINIs were just too small. The brand fixed that with the introduction of crossovers, which are still small vehicles by today’s standards.

2024 MINI Cooper S Convertible

And there lies MINI’s challenge, as markets like North America demand bigger and bigger vehicles, which doesn’t line up with the brand’s DNA. And since small cars aren’t in high demand these days, MINI reduced its lineup over the past few years to offer only its core models.

2025 MINI Cooper E

However, small cars are ripe for electrification, and MINI is gearing up for that with more fully electric models on the way. The MINI Cooper SE hatch is the brand’s first mass-produced EV, and although its range is limited compared to other electric vehicles on the market, that isn’t stopping the model from selling well. That formula will apply to future models as well.

2025 MINI Aceman

MINI also had to shake the reputation of building unreliable, high-maintenance vehicles, which no brand wants to deal with, but especially one that sells small and relatively affordable cars. However, over the past few years, the reliability of MINI’s vehicles has improved. MINI also has some catching up to do in regards to the list of active safety features in its vehicles, as the competition has been adding these devices as standard equipment across their model lineup.

2025 MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4

Current MINI Model Lineup

The brand’s North American lineup currently consists of the MINI 3-Door/Hardtop 2-Door, the MINI 5-Door/Hardtop 4-Door, the MINI Convertible and the MINI Countryman.

MINI History

The British Motor Corporation was established in 1952 following the merger of automakers Morris and Austin, which owned the brand names Austin, Morris, MG, Austin-Healey, Riley and Wolseley. The company’s vehicle designer Alex Issigonis had the task of developing a small and economical car in the late Fifties, leading to the introduction of the Mini in 1959.

Alex Issigonis and the 1959 Austin Seven / Morris Mini Minor

The Mini was a diminutive two-door, four-passenger vehicle that maximized interior space for occupants and their luggage, while being motivated by a fuel-efficient small-displacement engine connected to the front wheels. It was initially sold under the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor names.

1960 Austin Mini Countryman / Morris Mini Traveller

Meanwhile, several variations of the Mini appeared in the Sixties. The Austin Mini Countryman and Morris Mini Traveller wagons arrived in 1960, as did the Mini Van panel van, while the Mini Pick-up was introduced in 1961 and the Mini Moke open-air buggy hit the market in 1964. In 1961, John Cooper collaborated with Issigonis to create a performance-focused variant of the Mini, launching as the Austin Mini Cooper and Morris Mini Cooper. They were followed by the even more-powerful Cooper S in 1963.

1964 Austin / Morris Mini Moke

BMC then merged with Jaguar Cars to become British Motor Holdings in 1966, and then merged with Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968 to become British Leyland. In 1969, the Mini Clubman launched as a restyled variation of the original Mini, and was sold alongside the latter, while the Clubman Estate replaced the Traveller and Countryman.

1969 Mini Clubman

The original Mini was produced in various regions throughout the world up until 2000. It was sold in the United States from 1960 to 1967, and in Canada from 1960 to 1980.

1970 Mini Clubman Estate

In 1986, after a number of restructuring measures throughout the years, British Leyland became the Rover Group, which also manufactured commercial trucks and buses. The conglomerate’s car business was then sold to German automaker BMW in 1994, and in 2000, BMW sold the Rover Group in bits and pieces, while retaining the Mini branding and manufacturing plants in the U.K. An all-new generation of the popular small car appeared in 2001 as a 2002 model, sold under BMW ownership, and the brand became known as MINI–in uppercase letters.

2002 MINI Cooper

The 2002 MINI three-door hatchback was available in Cooper and Cooper S trims in North America, while the sportier John Cooper Works variant appeared later. The MINI Convertible was added to the lineup for the 2005 model year.

2008 MINI Cooper S Clubman

The second generation of the modern-day MINI hatchback or Hardtop was introduced for the 2007 model year, with a reengineered platform, a different yet familiar-looking body and a reworked powertrain lineup. The MINI Clubman was introduced for the 2008 model year with a passenger-side half-door to access the rear-seat area, along with twin barn-style doors. The MINI Convertible returned for the 2009 model year, while the two-seat MINI Coupé and MINI Roadster debuted for 2012. The limited-edition, high-performance MINI John Cooper Works GP arrived for 2013. The MINI Clubvan, based on the Clubman, but without rear side windows, was sold in North America for the 2013 model year only.

2009 MINI E

Also, the brand’s first steps towards electrification were taken at the end of the 2000s, as a small number of fully electric MINI E units were leased in the United States in 2009.

2011 MINI Cooper S Countryman

Meanwhile, the brand’s first crossover, the MINI Countryman, launched for the 2011 model year. It was also the brand’s first all-wheel-drive vehicle, a system it calls ALL4. A two-door, four-passenger spinoff of the Countryman arrived for 2013 as the MINI Paceman.

2012 MINI Cooper S Roadster

The third generation of the modern MINI Hatchback launched for the 2014 model year. Three-door and new five-door configurations were available, called 3-Door/5-Door in Canada, and 2-Door/4-Door in the U.S. The second generation of the modern-day Clubman launched for the 2016 model year with optional all-wheel drive, while the redesigned Convertible also debuted for 2016 and the second-gen Countryman arrived for 2017. The Coupé, Roadster and Paceman were dropped from the lineup.

2021 MINI John Cooper Works GP

The MINI Countryman SE ALL4 PHEV launched for the 2017 model year, while the fully electric MINI Cooper SE was introduced for the 2020 model year. The MINI Countryman adds a fully electric variant for the 2025, while the MINI Aceman fully electric crossover debuted.