It’s Sunday and in keeping with our unofficial Mini theme, DTW suggests four good reasons BMW was correct not to proceed with Rover’s 1995 Spiritual concept.
It would have cost a fortune to develop:
The investment in a bespoke floorpan and drivetrain, modifying hydragas, body & interior tooling and of course refitting the factory to build it would have been huge. New concepts also mean teething problems, so warranty costs were likely to have been high. Even as a sales success, Spiritual would struggle to recoup its development costs, meaning Rover would most likely have lost £millions on it.
The market would have shunned it:
To claw back costs, Spiritual would have been an expensive car, and what we now know is that small, clever and expensive doesn’t sell. Audi’s A2, the Smart, and (to a large extent) Mercedes’ original A-Class never met their sales targets because the market simply didn’t understand what they were offering, and had no incentive to pay what was being asked. Of course, even the original Mini incurred significant losses owing to its expensive technical specification and lack of component commonality. It also encountered considerable buyer resistance in its early years, due to its novelty.
BMW was too smart to risk it:
BMW didn’t get where they are today making radical cars. BMW’s offer few surprises and their conservative customer base demand no less. It’s a recipe that has worked brilliantly for them. Anyway, had BMW management wanted to go radical and rear-engined with millennium Mini, they had own Z13 ready to go. Why start from scratch on a broadly similar concept?
Issigonis would have hated it:
Romantics often state that Spiritual was the sort of visionary concept Sir Alec would have come up with himself. On the contrary, he would most likely have dismissed it as the work of inferior minds. Primarily, the engine was in the wrong place, and in addition the fitment of hydragas suspension would have sent him into paroxysms of rage. Worst of all, no sliding windows…