News : MINI-Metro name set to return?

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

The strangely-named MINI Paceman concept – unveiled last year – represents another possible niche for the company to enter. A sporting coupe variant of the existing Countryman looks like a marginal one to us, but one that MINI feels it can exploit. Rumours about the Paceman name being dropped have gained momentum in recent days, especially now Car & Driver has thrown its hat into the ring, with the story that Countryman Coupe is going to be the chosen moniker for the three-door.

However, we hear from a reasonable source that the Metro name, which has remained under BMW ownership since it sold Rover back in 2000, is also under consideration. It’s a name that translates well across European, American and Asian markets, and perfectly reflects the young go-getting urban feel that the car is trying to achieve. So, could the UK price lists witness the return of the MINI-Metro name in 2013?

Stranger things have happened.

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

66 Comments

  1. Where’s my gun? I’m going hunting BMW execs for gross stupidity. They need removing from the food chain. It’s time they did a real Mini, one with an engine of around 1 litre, and sell it for around £7,500!

  2. A Countryman Coupe! What next? The high, upright, Tonka Toy like Countryman hardly lends itself to being a Coupe.

    Metro name? Not a bad idea in many ways.

    BMW are trying so hard to extend the MINI range. There would have been far more scope for expanding the British operation had they kept Rover!!

  3. This whole mini thing is like the smart car all over again, great first model, then followed by a heap of less appealing niche cars that lessen the appeal of the brand.

  4. Marty B –

    Good point. How about BMW doing a real Mini option?

    Do BMW own the Maxi name? Might be more appropriate!

  5. Going to give it up now please?! First Rover and now Metro? Take the rose coloured glasses off!

    Three reasons why this won’t happen (and why it was a daft proposition in the first place).

    1. Metro as a car brand has the same connotations as Rover (and Lancia) aka in the past and rather crap.

    2. Microsoft are about to launch Windows 8 with a new user interface titled…. Metro

    3. Youngsters think Metro is a free newspaper.

    C’mon aronline – look around you instead of constantly in the past.

  6. That is a very contradictory statement, saying that Metro has crap connotations, so why are microsoft using it and a very popular newspaper? To be honest when most people hear Metro their first thought is probably underground trains.
    And rose tinted specs? if your looking for close minded sterotypical comments about how crap the British motor industry is/was then I suggest you look somewhere other than a website for knowledgeable enthusiats and fans.

  7. Well said Peter!

    I quite like the Metro name. Those of us around in the 80’s will remember the original Metro as the only car in it’s class with character in a sea of bland, flimsy Euroboxes.

    How about dropping the BMW name….i.e. somebody please prise Mini (alright MINI then) away from BMW and bring in back home, expand the range away from cartoon versions of the same car and concentrate on serious cars like they should/could have done with Rover.

  8. Hmm, not sure if it would be a good idea… The Metro name might still be positive in the UK, on the mainland we have a different opinion about the original… Having said that, it’s far better then Vauxhall/Opel considering the name “Alegro-with-an-A” (Alegra) for their new small car…

  9. What is that supposed to be? The original Metro was a proper small car, which was why it was flimsy and unrefined as well as ecnomical and compact. This is another oversized, marketed-to-death fashion symbol! Typical BMW!

  10. I think we should just let BMW get on with their playing around with old Mini names and maybe if we ignore them they will just go away…..

    Seriously though, it is now starting to smack of taking the piss a bit, and to be honest these names will not mean one jot to the current buying demographic of the MINI. Let us who remember the originals keep them alive by looking after or restoring the ones we own so that the new generations can still see what the REAL cars looked like.

  11. The Paceman and Countryman are essentially the latest variations on the “big Mini” theme, first done by BMC with the ADO16 and ADO17. It’s a shame BMW let the Austin brand slip through their fingers in 2000, as it could have been used for the “big Minis” that they evidently didn’t plan for back then. Instead of all the cracks about the larger vehicles being “too big to be a Mini”, it would have been clear that they were Austins and could be whatever BMW wanted them to be.

    I was hoping that BMW would wise up and use the Metro brand on a brand new car once they tired of the whole retro theme in the 2020s (or sooner), but whatever.

  12. “. Metro as a car brand has the same connotations as Rover (and Lancia) aka in the past and rather crap.”

    It’s been used in other countries though by other manufacturers though and hasn’t had any issues. The Metro is highly respected in France, millions of Parisiens use it on a daily basis. Personally i think the Metro name is about the only thing about this that makes sense.

  13. “The original Metro was a proper small car”

    Well so was the mini?

    Actually the Metro was bigger than the Mini before it.

  14. The Metro name won’t work in the US. In the 80s and 90s, GM sold a rebadged Suzuki Swift as the Geo Metro (and later Chevrolet Metro). The only good thing about them was the fuel economy.

  15. I think Keith has been suckered into the whole Bini experience with his ‘estate agent special’. We don’t need any more stupid and pointless, oversized cars for how can we say ‘retarded chavtypes’. Sir Alec will be spinning in his grave. He made a car for the people. Something the entire Bini range isn’t. The Bini range fails on so many levels. Just think, if they did actually make a cheap city car with the Mini name, it would sell by the bucketload, especially to Japan, but BMW are so full of their own self importance….Jackasses!

  16. Maybe the ‘Metro’ tag isn’t such a good idea, but I think that perhaps calling a Mini the ‘Metropolitan’ wouldn’t be a bad idea. Classier, and fewer associations with the past. Or a certain free newspaper.

  17. The Metro name in the USA does not have the same connotations as it does in the UK. Here it was a rebadged 3 cylinder Suzuki Swift that was sold as the Geo Metro from 1989-1997 and as the Chevrolet Metro from 1998-2001. While not a bad car overall, Americans dislike anything small and so the Metro is the butt of jokes to many. It’s main claim to fame is that it was offered in a model that was US EPA rated at 58 MPG highway and 53 MPG city. They do have a small following (myself included as I own two of them) here but it is very much a niche car driven by cheapskates with decent mechanical skills.(Most were run into the ground without proper maintenance, thus survivors usually require a full sorting to be usable and reliable.)

  18. I remember the Simpsons joked about Ned Flanders driving a Geo Metro.

    Hopefully not too many non-car buffs will remember the Nash Metropolitan.

  19. I guess when theyve milked this to death theyll put a diamond badge on the front and some nice green leather and call this the Elf, then fits some placki wood, red leather a bit more placki chrome and call it a Hornet…after all weve been there before nearly some 50 years ago!.

  20. Does it really matter what it is called. BMW are a commercial concern and if they can bring a new model to the market with limited additional development costs, I see nothing wrong with that. I don’t hear people complain about all the new Land Rover models that JLR are producing. Certainly these are a long way from the original Land Rover concept. I wish JLR and MINI every success as they providing real jobs for thousands of people. In addition their products sell well abroad and give a positive image to the UK.

  21. Quote:
    “The Bini range fails on so many levels. Just think, if they did actually make a cheap city car with the Mini name, it would sell by the bucketload, especially to Japan, but BMW are so full of their own self importance….Jackasses!”

    I hardly think BMW increasing Mini production in the UK from less than 10,000 a year pre-2001 back up to near its 1971 peak of around 300,000 a year can be termed a failure!

    “The MINI brand was also able to achieve a new sales volume high in 2011. In total, 285,060 units of the MINI (2010: 234,175 units) were sold, 21.7% more than in the previous year. The MINI Countryman performed particularly well, with sales up more than six fold to 89,036 units (2010: 14,337 units). The MINI Coupé was launched in September 2011 as the fifth model in the MINI family and recorded a sales volume of 3,799 units up to the year end.”
    http://www.motoringfile.com/2012/03/13/bmw-group-targets-another-record-year-for-2012/

    As has been said many times cheap economy Mini cars can not be built in western high wage economy countries. If and when BMW add something like the Rocketman Mini-City concept to the range it would almost certainly have to be built, like similar very small cars, in an Eastern European factory not UK. This is the reason Rover never replaced the Mini as there was no profit margin on building small cars in UK, hence BMW creating and growing the ‘premium’ prestige small car sector with the MINI range.

    Why do you think Nissan have stopped building the Micra in the UK and moved production to India while replacing it with the Nissan Qashqui production here in Sunderland?

  22. Hi Martin,

    All the reasoned arguments in the world won’t persuade someone like Marty B to even consider changing his prejudices. My missus might also take great offense at being referred to as a ‘retarded chav-type’ because of her choice of car.

    Shame, once again, that there’s a lack of respect for the other person’s opinions by some around here.

  23. @ Keith Adams. I agree with Marty B to a point. The Mini is no longer a car for the people, but so what? VW started out the same, and you could say BMW cars did with their bubble car (although they were making big saloons alongside it).
    But yes, there really is no need to resort to insulting others and being rude, just because you have a different opinion.

    Please people, keep AROnline friendly.

  24. I’m surprised that BMW haven’t made a modern day version of the Wolseley Hornet – I reckon that people might well buy a MINI saloon if it was well styled (which, knowing BMW, it would be.)

    A MINI pickup would be fantastic, too (and would be VAT exempt – an important selling point for self-employed businesses). It could even have fold-down occasional seats in the bulkhead, à la the Skoda Felicia Fun (assuming that Skoda didn’t trademark it).

    Before anyone states the obvious, i.e. “what happens if it rains?”, the Fun came with a hood that covered the rear section, or you could fit it with a fibreglass windowed hardtop.

  25. I reckon that the real Mini as a car for the people nowadays is the brilliant FIAT Panda. Cheap as chips and designed around its occupants – form and function in perfect harmony.

    People forget that the original Mini was only a car of the people for the first twenty-five years of its life – from the special editions of the Eighties onwards the Mini became a fashion statement and image-wise a cut above the entry level car it originated from, as indeed it stayed all the way up to its eventual demise. Don’t forget that the last original Minis cost about £12k a decade ago – which makes the modern day BMW MINI look extraordinarily good value for money!

    My personal take on the MINI is that I’m not a big fan of it (I’m a Fiat 500 fan myself), but I respect those who do like it. Let’s have more regard for people’s feelings on here and get back to what this site does best – enthusiasts having healthy and honest discussions about cars and respecting each other’s opinions.

    Right, I’m off to look at FIAT 500s!

  26. A Countryman coupe makes sense commercially; look at how many BMW X6’s there are on the road and it seems there are going to be X4s and X2s. Please note I didn’t say I agree with the type of vehicle or want one. Anyway, what is Range Rover Evoque if not a Freelander coupe?

    Please -not the Metro name!

  27. I’m not a big fan of the Bini, I drove one a few years back and thought it drove like a bmw and not a Mini. It is also too big to be a Mini. The likes of Ford’s Ka and Fiat’s 500 seem small inside from their outside architecture. The Peugeot 107 and the Volkswagen UP! is more of the size the Bini should of been. They would have suited the Metro name better than this a Mini Maxi. Or perhaps a Mini Grand. Or even a Mini Grandeur.

  28. ok, 1st of all..

    Mmmmmwwwaaaahaaaaahaaaahaaarrrrhaarrrhaaahaaahaahaaaharrrrr.

    2nd of all,

    Enrico Vanni, you’re not from round here, are you?

  29. Also.. I’m confused by comments saying the Mini is not for the people.. We see so many of them on the road… It’s not like they’re exclusive.. ipso facto.. car for the people (by todays standards).. It’s not like were trying to motivate the masses of Europe anymore.. The Tata Nano’s taking that on nowerdays…

    What is the modern day definition of a European car for the people? Because I’d actually say the Mini’s still not to far from it… really.

  30. The MINI is certainly very popular, and seems (around here anyway) to be driven in the majority by women. If we remember the ‘Minis have feelings too’ advert posted on here last year, that was the customer base that was mostly responsible for the increase in Mini sales at that time.

    So in reality things are not really much different in terms of who the car is popular with and the sales prove it.

    Personally, I am happy to let BMW do what they want with the brand as it is now so far removed from the original that any connection is tenuous in the extreme. The use of names like ‘Countryman’, Clubman etc mean nothing to their customers and really only define (a stupid amount of) different editions of the car.

    While I would be happy to see a revived Riley Elf or Wolseley Hornet in a MINI shell, doing so would be pointless as those who would want it (people who owned an original) have nothing in common with those that are buying the new car now. BMW probably know this, and I am sure if they had any intention of using these old variant marques of the classic Mini we would have heard by now.

  31. I personally have no thoughts either way towards the potential use of the Metro name by BMW Group. After all, the last Metro badge was applied to the tailgate of the supermini back in December 1994, with the model itself soldiering on for another three years with the 100 nomenclature adopted for all markets.

    While the Metro as a product was not without its faults, it did appeal to many owners and continued to be a huge commercial success right up to when the last example was built in December 1997. Indeed there are still a lot of existing owners and enthusiasts out there who moarn the passing of the supermini range. If the name was to be dusted off for a MINI derivative it certainly would not have any harmful effect on the appeal of the ‘real’ Metro.

    As for using the name in some export markets, well… that is another issue to consider!

  32. Marty B – Comment 21

    “Sir Alec will be spinning in his grave”. Yes, I’ve thought this several times before now. MINI hardly fits the notion of maximum car in minimum space.

    Fellow 75 1.8 Club SE owner, Mike Humble – Comment 30

    It does make perfect sense to exploit, maximise today’s successful MINI brand. However, I’m sure if BMW had kept the whole Rover Group there would not have been the need to stretch the MINI brand so far. It could have stayed closer to Mini as part of a Rover range.

  33. @Dr Bobby Love

    I certainly am!

    Oh, and I’ll bet my house and pension on the Rover and Metro names never being re-introduced by their respective rights-holders.

  34. @Steve Bailey
    “A MINI pickup would be fantastic, too (and would be VAT exempt – an important selling point for self-employed businesses)”

    Now Official: The MINI Clubvan goes on sale second half of this year:
    “The Clubvan builds on the functionality of the original, adding MINI’s premium character and individuality to the mix. And I’m thrilled to announce, for the first time, the MINI Clubvan will go into series production. We’ll launch the Clubvan in the second half of this year.”
    http://www.motoringfile.com/2012/03/09/ian-robertsons-remarks-from-the-geneva-auto-show/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Motoringfile+%28MotoringFile+

  35. @Ayd “I’m still waiting for the Spiritual-sized MINI Minor”

    It seems a MINI-Minor/City is still a possibility:

    Rocketman/MINI City Neither Living Nor Dead
    “Various people in leadership, including MINI’s top man, Dr. Kay Segler, have expressed a very strong desire to see the little MINI on the city streets near you, yet we also know that the car isn’t in the current product roadmap recently approved by the BMW board. Inquiring minds want to know will this car get built or won’t it? Now we have some clarity from Sven Grutzmacher, BMW Group press spokesman at the recent press launch of the MINI Roadster. Well, sort of.

    “…there was never a decision whether we [would] build such a car or not. So nothing is changed on that front, so you cannot say the Rocketman is dead, or that the Rocketman is going to come into production because there has never been a decision.”
    http://www.motoringfile.com/2012/02/08/rocketman-neither-living-nor-dead/

    On the topic of successful small cars this is an interesting read:
    How BMW’s Mini Trumped Daimler’s Smart Car:
    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/how-bmws-mini-trumped-daimlers-smart-car-02022012.html

  36. Was at my local supermarket yesterday and there were 2 “real” Mini’s flanking a “new” Mini. You don’t realise what a porker the new one is until you see exactly this scene. So please BMW don’t use the Metro name which for its time was a symbol of being something new and original.

  37. @Malcolm
    That is true of many modern versions of older cars, put a Mk1 Ford Fiesta next to a modern example or an original Fiat 500 next to the current model. A Mk1 Golf is the same size as the current VW Polo which was in the size class below…….

    Also I would hardly call the Metro something new and original back in 1980?…..it was a late entry for BL into the supermini hatchback class with a very ancient even then, A-Series engine and a 4-speed gearbox lifted out the Mini from 20 years earlier.

  38. Its alright some folks criticising JLR but at least every model is distinctive look at the evoque-every time you turn around its awash with more awards and rightly so(but i hate the cabrio concept)Now im just sick of the sight of minis,the countryman…jesus its a maxi and that coupe almost twists me up in genocidal hatred-thankfully i only seen one so far and the geezer used to own a dodge ram because he suffered from SMS (small man syndrome)now,i dont know what his ailment is….and he wears mochesins!

  39. BMW may be many things, but they’re not fools.

    Long time ago, Cars & Car Conversions described the Metro as ‘all the crap bits of the Mini with none of its charm’ – best description of that car I’ve heard so far.

    Some people may want to take their rose-tinted spectacles off. Even by 1980 standards, for us here on the other end of the Channel who weren’t in it with their tax money, the Metro was er, a bit primitive.

  40. I aggree that the term “mininess” was used to promote the Mini in early days with BL, but the new minis are much bigger than the new one as already mentioned, its more a Maxi than mini. The metro was going to replace the mini at one point and was marketed is the Austin Mini Metro in early production,so BMW could produce a hatch back version bases around the Clubman and can call it a Metro perhaps. Regards Mark

  41. I’ve always thought of MINI as a spiritual successor to the MG B GT. MINIs are too big, too expensive & too upmarket to replace the 1959-2000 Minis. MINI is already Metro-sized, so bringing out a MINI Metro would confuse buyers & would probably be Princess/1800 sized, seeing as MINI Countryman is Maxi-sized!

    MINI should bring out a larger sibling to MINI which plays homage to ADO16 (1100/1300) like MINI pays to Mini! Given the size hike that MINI has over the ’59 original & it would have to be a bigger car than MINI, it could be Golf-sized & could be a serious, credible Golf-rival. It could be as successful as the 1100/1300 ADO16 was globally.

  42. Regarding comments suggesting MINI bring out a Wolseley Hornet or Riley Elf. MINI is already an upmarket car. Unless Hornet or Elf have a different body (e.g. saloon or 5-door hatch) I can’t see the point!

    The Mk1 (1959-’69) Mini was a cheap runabout for the masses. Elf and Hornet were aimed at affluent/middle-class people who wanted a more upmarket small car: MINI already fills this gap!

  43. “Even by 1980 standards, for us here on the other end of the Channel who weren’t in it with their tax money, the Metro was er, a bit primitive.”

    Was it? in 1980 Compared to it’s main Rival the Mk1 Fiesta it was similar in spec but more modern and far ahead of the Chevette. Problem was though it was launched 5 years too late, so it wasn’t long before PSA and Renault had over taken it with the AX, 205 and new R5. The A-Series power plant was dated, but don’t forget the Fiesta was powered by the Kent engine (from 1959). The Polo was still just as basic at the time. So yes by the Mid 80’s it wasn’t so great compared to the competition, but in 1980 it certainly wasn’t primitive compared to what the other manufacturers were producing.

  44. “I aggree that the term “mininess” was used to promote the Mini in early days with BL, but the new minis are much bigger than the new one as already mentioned, its more a Maxi than mini.”

    That’s the same with Most cars though, the Current Polo is much larger than the original, the Current Fiesta is much larger than the 1976 model. The only difference is the Polo and Fiesta have grown gradually with each generation, whereas because the Mini was kept in production so long the ‘sudden’ enlargement was more noticeable.

  45. @51 You just got me thinking(dangerous!)the MK1 fiesta was light,airey and reasonably spacious,but the new one makes me feel claustrophobic in comparison,heavier,bigger and safer-but we never buy a car because we intend to crash.I just find myself asking where is the progress?At least peaugeot’s new 208 addresses the issue with the car smaller than outgoing model.

  46. Marty B and Maestro Man, I couldn’t agree with you more. Today car manufactures are making a joke out of there heritage (or heritage they have bought). I always thought the new MINI was a piss-take to start of with: Cheap-No, economical-No, small-No, retro and corny-Yes. Also there is the new FIAT 500 or the Porsche Cayenne. That is why Rover went down the pan under the BMW ownership.

  47. Perhaps BMW should make a Retro Metro (now that IS a good name!). It could be like the original but, just like the MINI, ten times bigger than the original…about the size of Wandsworth Shopping Centre. They could make a cheap one without a parcel shelf and then lots of limited editions (the BMW RETRO METRO STUDIO2 etc)

  48. “@51 You just got me thinking(dangerous!)the MK1 fiesta was light,airey and reasonably spacious,but the new one makes me feel claustrophobic in comparison,heavier,bigger and safer-but we never buy a car because we intend to crash.”

    Modern cars seem to have terrible visibility too, massive pillars, to give you roll over and side impact protection, but they just create big blind spots. Door Mirrors seem to be getting smaller and smaller too.

  49. Metro is not going to happen- in the US, the largest market for such a vehicle, METRO was a name GM used as part of the “GEO” brand for the lowest priced car in existence. It was rubbish and the name when discussing cars is mentioned people laugh.

  50. It will cost peanuts to spin this car off the existing Countryman platform, it will easily sell in sufficient numbers to generate a profit. By any normal measure it will be a decent, desirable car that people want to buy and are prepared to pay a premium for. As ever, I am really struggling to see what the problem could possibly be?

  51. @57 and front quarterlights!i believe they exist from insurance guidelines of some sort?pedestrian protection rules are somewhat crazy too-for example(please forgive me)the 906 model sprinter has (10>)has changed the engine from chain driven to gear driven valve train-gears at rear of engine,to improve pedestrian survivabilty just in case it hits someone,forgive me for pointing it out but i think the last thing through the pedestrians mind would be the cylider head!off topic i know but this is ending up bulking vehicles up,higher bonnet line,higher scuttle and the vehicles just growing and growing.

  52. 2013 – MINI Metro launched
    2014 – Tata brings back “Rover” name on new compact model sitting below the Evoque.
    2015 – SAIC launched budget versions of MG saloons, badged as “Morris” Then, realising there is scope in the market for luxury versions, relaunches Wolsley. Austin versions soon follow.
    2016 – BMW finally caves into pressure and brings back the Triumph name on a new small sportscar.
    And some time in the future they all come together as the new BMC 🙂
    Or perhaps not….

  53. A snippet of news: from a eulogy at his funeral this week, Toyota engineers had some long meetings with Alex Moulton discussing interlinked suspension for the Toyota IQ and others including Lexus.

    Dr Moulton has publically described the IQ, as the original Mini updated for pedestrian safety. May we look forward to a Toyota “Mini” with Hydragas, and double wishbone front-rear suspension interconnection?

    Read his autobiography for Alex Moultons opinion of the BMW imposter.

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