Currently reading: New Mini Cooper - latest pics
Development of the all-new Mini hatch switches to the Arctic Circle

Development of the all-new Mini has switched to the Arctic Circle ahead of its launch later this year. The Mini Cooper spied here will be one of the launch models for the third-generation version of Mini’s staple hatch under BMW ownership.

The new Mini, codenamed F56, will be part of a Mini range that will grow to encompass 10 individual models as the British brand becomes fully integrated into the BMW family. Another nine Mini spin-offs will be launched by the middle of the decade, including a new interpretation of the Clubman estate and Mini’s take on the MPV — known internally as the ‘Spacebox’ but likely to wear the evocative ‘Traveller’ badge.

See the spy pics of the new Mini Cooper

The new-generation Mini will be based on a brand-new BMW-engineered platform called UKL1. This front-drive architecture will come in two wheelbase lengths and is based around MacPherson strut front suspension and BMW’s Z-axle rear end. BMW recently announced a £500 million investment in converting the Cowley, Oxfordshire plant to accommodate the platform.

Most of the Mk3 Mini line-up will be powered by a new range of advanced BMW three-cylinder engines. They will be just as powerful as the existing Mini four-cylinder engines but are claimed to be significantly more frugal.

Power outputs are expected to span 120bhp to 160bhp. UKL1 will also accommodate the new 2.0-litre, four-cylinder BMW engines, which could produce more than 230bhp. This engine is expected to form the basis of the John Cooper Works motor and also raises the possibility of an all-wheel-drive Mini JCW.

As well as accommodating four-wheel drive, UKL1 will offer at least one type of hybrid drivetrain. It’s currently unclear whether a battery-powered version of the new Mini will make series production. BMW has already shown an extended-range electric drivetrain for a front-drive car, and a senior BMW engineer has told Autocar that he believes an extended-range drivetrain is a better investment for the future than a purely battery-powered car.

UKL1 will also be used as the basis for a new range of compact BMW models, including three-door and five-door hatches, a super-compact SUV and a tall 5-series GT-style car. With 10 Mini models planned and as many as five BMW models in the medium term, UKL1 will become BMW’s biggest-selling vehicle range.

When BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer announced the plans for a range of front-drive cars in March 2010, he said the new platform would allow BMW to “achieve its profitability aims in the small car sector”. It’s thought that Mini’s output of 240,000 cars per year was not enough to justify the expense of another stand-alone Mini platform.

The Mk3 Mini line-up also means the British marque will finally be fully integrated into the BMW family. Since it was rescued by BMW from the break-up of the Rover Group, Mini has had an arm’s-length relationship with BMW.

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Mini’s stand-alone factory, pressing plant, design studio and dealerships were, some claimed, evidence that BMW’s cautious management were not sure whether Mini would establish itself as a long-term success.

Ironically, Mini is now an essential part of BMW’s plans to downsize its models and reduce its corporate fuel consumption figures.

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toptidy 18 January 2012

Re: New Mini Cooper - latest pics

Well as has been commented on already, you cannot change the styling too much or it won't have any resemblance to a Mini which rather defeats the point.

I suppose as much as anything it is to create a Mini body to put on the new platform which I believe will also underpin the threatened front wheel drive 1 Series if/when such a tragedy gets built (personally I hope it doesn't) but at least we still have a rear drive one for now.

Presumably the two litre petrol engines referred to are the same ones that are used in the new 116i and 118I, which from your recent road test sound OK - they have certainly done well to get the emissions so low.

Mario B 18 January 2012

Re: New Mini Cooper - latest pics

evanstim wrote:

Mario B wrote:
Should have gone to Specsavers as it looks identical to me from these fabulous photos

Well designing the Mini would have to be the hardest job in the automotive world, would it not?

The current (and the previous generation) Minis were perfect reinterpretations of the classic Mini style. Arguably written too large but then the classic Mini was always going to be too small for modern lifestyles.

How do you make any changes without diluting the design language? I don't think it is possible, although personally I would focus at how the packaging could be improved - a Mini weak point, when, ironically, it was a strong point on the original. But style wise? You've definitely got me there.

The new car can therefore only look largely the same.

Perhaps that is why BMW are making big technical changes with the new version - since it cannot do much with the styling.

I wonder what the interior is going to look like?

You are right of course. I guess the point I was trying to make rather poorly was that from these pictures, I could not tell anything other than that the car looked about the same. Perhaps my eyesight is a lot worse than others but it is not aided by these photos which are to me not fully clear.

brian245 18 January 2012

Re: New Mini Cooper - latest pics

DKW wrote:
What's with all the daft camo ?

May be a result of one of the fires