Currently reading: Bespoke Mini Strip highlights firm's sustainability push
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Mini has teamed up with British fashion designer Paul Smith - known in motoring circles for his brightly coloured takes on the original Mini - to create the Mini Strip, a pared-back one-off which emphasises the firm's sustainability ambitions.

The Mini Strip was first revealed in August and is now making its public debut at the Munich motor show.

It follows the Urbanaut concept revealed in 2020 as another statement of intent for Mini's future as a maker of simple and sustainable cars with an emphasis on utility and efficiency. 

Unlike the Urbanaut, however, the Strip is closely related to the current Mini Electric, with the principles of "simplicity, transparency and sustainability" guiding Smith's makeover of the car.

As its name suggests, the Strip concept does away with many of the standard car's features and adopts several unique design cues in the name of weight reduction and pure functionality. Only elements deemed "absolutely necessary" by Smith remain.

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97 Mini strip paul smith official images hero rear

Most obviously, the Strip goes without a production-specification paint finish, wearing just a thin layer of transparent paint to prevent rush and featuring exposed grinding marks from the factory. Mini says this gives "a minimalist, high-class design with a fresh and unconventional appeal". Smith, meanwhile, refers to the unrefined finish as "the perfect imperfection".

The Strip does retain its contrasting black plastic body trim, but here it's 3D-printed using recycled plastic and decorated with exposed screwheads that aim to show how easily the car could be dismantled and recycled at the end of its usable life. The grille, blanked off to reduce drag, is made from recycled perspex to save even more weight, as are the aerodynamically optimised wheel covers and the panoramic sunroof. 

The transformation is even more drastic inside, where all unnecessary trim elements have been removed and attention is drawn to the bare metal body shell by way of a bright-blue paint finish.

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The largely featureless dashboard consists of a single-piece, semi-transparent panel, and though the circular recess for Mini's characteristic central speedometer remains, it's now used to house a smartphone, removing the need for the associated wiring and materials.

The driver's phone will connect automatically to the car and become the "media control centre", with the only physical controls remaining those used for the windows and start-stop system.

95 Mini strip paul smith official images dashboard

Conventional materials including leather and chrome are absent from the cabin, with the seats finished in a knitted fabric that's entirely recyclable, while the floor mats are themselves made of recycled rubber.

The dashboard top, door panels and parcel shelf are all finished in recycled cork, which Mini says "could provide a substitute for foamed plastics in future", due to its firmness and soft-touch feel. A positive side effect, the firm notes, is that cork and knitted fabric are open-pore materials that "enhance interior acoustics". 

Elsewhere, the airbag is visible through the mesh centre of the minimalist steering wheel, which is wrapped in handlebar tape rather than synthetic leather, while mesh is also used for the door panels so that the innards are almost fully exposed.

Climbing rope is used in place of interior door handles, coloured orange to match the seat belts. The airbags in the roof are on show, too, as is the car's wiring loom, drawing attention, Mini says, "to functions that are normally concealed during manufacture". 

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There's no production intent for the Strip, but Mini is keen for it to demonstrate the feasibility of sustainable car manufacturing and design.

Earlier this year, Mini built a physical version of the Urbanaut concept, having previously shown it only as a digital render. That car also has a strong emphasis on sustainability, with a flexible, minimalist cabin and a focus on using space efficiently. 


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Felix Page

Felix Page
Title: News and features editor

Felix is Autocar's news editor, responsible for leading the brand's agenda-shaping coverage across all facets of the global automotive industry - both in print and online.

He has interviewed the most powerful and widely respected people in motoring, covered the reveals and launches of today's most important cars, and broken some of the biggest automotive stories of the last few years. 

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streaky 6 September 2021

I detect some pretentious twaddle creeping in here: "thin transparent paint featuring exposed grinding marks" could probably be regarded as minimalist in some respects, but "high class"?  What rubbish - "perfect imperfection" indeed, how do they think these things up? I wouldn't buy anything as unfinished as that.  Similarly with the interior: exposed paintwork is fine if well designed and executed (look at the inside of the VW Up!) but it can't be left with exposed welds, fixing holes for obviously absent trim, and wiring looms in all their stark glory.  I do like the use of the cork (Mazda is doing that already - a bit), the recyclable knitted fabric on the seats and the recycled rubber flooring (I've never understood why we put up with cheap carpet and then pay extra to cover it with rubber mats anyway), but the rest of it verges on the silly and unattractive, to the extent that IMO it would never catch on.

catnip 13 August 2021

I'm hoping MINI will go more simplistic and minmalist with their future interiors, but there doesn't seem to be any mention of how things like climate could be adjusted with this one, hopefully not with your mobile phone. Still, less finished bodywork will mean cheaper prices, of course .....

jason_recliner 13 August 2021
But yeah overall a cool product!