Mini is on the "threshold of a new chapter" as it enters its second decade under BMW ownership, according to design director Adrian van Hooydonk.
Speaking to Autocar during a visit to the UK, van Hooydonk revealed that a major review of Mini's future strategy was presented to the BMW board in the middle of May.
"Mini will stay as a premium car and one of the future guidelines for us is the phrase 'from an icon to icons'," he said. "Future models will continue to acknowledge the original Mini. That car used some very clever engineering, which led to unique solutions and unique construction."
The original Mini's handling prowess on the road and in competition will also influence Mini's future direction. Its fashion heritage will play its part too, van Hooydonk said.
"That combination of clever engineering, serious handling and fashion was very strong, and will live through in future Minis," he said.
"Because Mini is on the threshold of turning into a proper brand, we will be looking at a pallet of models for the future," he added.
Mini will not rush into it, van Hooydonk believes, and the shared front-wheel drive architecture being developed with BMW will reduce some of the immediate pressure on Mini to increase its sales volumes.
"We can take careful steps," he said. "As a stand-alone brand, Mini would be forced to hit certain volumes to make economic sense. But now Mini has the potential to do more. It can develop in its own timeframe."
Van Hooydonk says BMW wants to make sure that people will still regard the three-door hatch as the core of the brand.
"We can't do all sizes of car under the Mini badge," he said. "But any future model beyond the Countryman will have to be fun, premium, unique and the most compact in its segment."