Mini looks to be readying a subtly facelifted version of its new Electric hatchback just a year after it was first launched, as part of a round of updates for its line-up.
As with a camouflaged prototype of the Cooper S five-door hatchback spotted last week, the Electric looks to gain a reshaped bumper and front grille, but covered-up interior elements suggest the EV could also be given a new infotainment system. Changes elsewhere are likely to be much more subtle, given the car was only recently launched.
The five-door, however, is due a substantial facelift before 2023 - having only been subtly updated once in its seven-year lifespan - to bring it into line with newer rivals including the Audi A1 Sportback, Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio. A prototype spotted by our photographers looks to be hiding only small styling tweaks beneath its front and rear camouflage wrap, but more interesting are clues that it's a plug-in hybrid.
The 'E-FZG' sticker in the front windscreen means the mule's powertrain is composed of both internal-combustion and electrical elements. Given that Mini is yet to introduce mild-hybrid or hybrid options to its line-up, it's likely to be a variation of the larger Countryman Cooper S E All4's plug-in hybrid powerplant. No charging socket is visible, but the Countryman's is on the opposite side of the car to the fuel filler cap.
Such a move would make sense, given Mini's gradual transition to a maker of pure EVs, and would secure it an early spot in the burgeoning plug-in family hatchback market, which is currently occupied by models including the Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid, Mercedes-Benz A250e and Volkswagen Golf GTE.
It's not yet known whether the Cooper S would be offered solely as a plug-in hybrid. Earlier this year, Autocar reported that BMW had delayed development of the next-gen Mini hatchback, both for reasons related to the cost of upgrading its Oxford factory and because of uncertainty surrounding Britain's relationship with the European Union.