Mini's new five-door hatchback forms part of a broader front-wheel drive platform strategy instigated by parent company BMW.

Developed under the internal working name UKL (an acronym for the German words ‘unter klasse’, or ‘entry level’ in English), it aims to not only increase the number of front-wheel-drive models offered by Mini but also provide the basis for a ground-breaking new front-wheel-drive BMW that is planned to form part of an increased number of 1-series models to be sold in the UK by the middle of the decade.

Likely to be called the 1-series GT, the new entry-level BMW is set to be previewed in concept form at the Paris motor show in September, ahead of a planned introduction in late 2014.

As well as running the front-wheel drive underpinnings developed by Mini and BMW, the new Mercedes B-class-rivalling hatchback will use the firm’s new turbocharged 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine, which will also be used in the next generation of Minis.

Relying on the same modular construction techniques evident in its diesel engines, the new petrol engine shares its 500cc individual cylinder capacity and other key elements with BMW’s classic 3.0-litre straight six petrol unit.