The third-generation ‘new’ Mini produced under BMW has been photographed undisguised, months ahead of its expected debut towards the tail-end of the year.
The look of the new Mini is greater removed from its predecessor than had been expected, with a few notable design changes at the front giving it greater visual distinction in the switch from second-gen model to third than first to second.
The circular LED rings in the more prominent headlights are perhaps the most significant change, these having been previewed on the 2011 Rocketman concept.
The front-end design is softer than before but much more distinctive with it; the front grille taller and narrower, and with more rounded edges and a 3D effect. The lower grille is also more pronounced, and is flanked by more prominent fog lights.
In profile, the new Mini looks slightly longer with a longer wheelbase and increased front overhang. The glasshouse has been narrowed slightly and the roofline angled more towards the rear tailgate.
At the rear, there is more of a nip and tuck than a change in philosophy, with the light graphic of the current car carrying over in larger rear lights. The lower bumper has been reprofiled, and the twin central exhausts of the Cooper S model (both Cooper and Cooper S variants have been snapped undisguised) made more prominent.
Previous spy pictures of the interior have revealed an adoption of a BMW iDrive-style controller for the infotainment functions, and more conventional dials under the large circular screen in the centre console. Insiders have reported a big leap in quality for the new interior.
The new three-door Mini hatchback scooped here is the first of 11 Minis and up to 12 BMWs that will be spun off a new front-wheel-drive platform known internally as UKL1. The platform, thanks to its longer wheelbase, is said to greatly improve the ride quality of the Mini and also further sharpen up the handling.
The new Mini will be offered with a choice of a petrol or diesel three-cylinder 1.5-litre engines from a new family to be shared with BMW in the UKL1 range. Higher performance 1.6-litre turbos are expected to continue in the Cooper S and eventual JCW versions.
A six-speed manual gearbox will be available as the standard transmission, with an eight-speed automatic transmission optional. More Mini models may also receive four-wheel drive in the future as demand grows, with the technology an integral part of the UKL1 strategy.