Mini's seventh model, the Paceman, is an example of how the brand has diversified to give buyers more choice as well as offer cars to those who are looking to downsize, said product and planning manager Dave Tuckett.

"We don't want customers to leave the brand so we have to give them choice," he said. "In 2000-2001, Mini could have fizzled out and died. This diversity has kept it alive," he added.

The three-door Paceman is the coupé version of the five-door Countryman, the largest of the current crop of Minis - the Paceman at 4,124mm is 395mm longer, bumper to bumper, than the hatchback.

"People want more room which is why Minis are bigger. We've also benefited from downsizing - coupé and hatch would be too small for downsizers but we have other models that suit," Tuckett said.           

The challenge is communicating that choice which is why it's important to have a dedicated dealer network.

"We have 147 stand-alone dealers selling more than 50,000 cars a year," he said. UK sales last year were a record 51,410; The US remains the biggest market with sales last year of 66,000 with Germany third at 38,000.

The Countryman has become the line's second biggest seller in the UK after the hatchback - 14,600 compared with 25,100. Tuckett anticipates Paceman sales will be around 3,000-4,000 a year, around one quarter of Countryman volume.

He believes the Paceman will appeal to buyers, mostly male, who might also be looking at a Nissan Juke or Range Rover Evoque. "We're not positioned against those models, but that's the market," said Tuckett.

A price premium of GBP800 over the Countryman puts the Paceman in a similar price bracket to three-door versions of the Volkswagen Golf. Paceman prices start at GBP18,970 for the Cooper; diesel models start at GNP20,210.