These scoop pictures show a full-size design proposal for the next-generation Mini, which sources say is close to being given the green light.
Expected in early 2011, the car has been given a new exterior treatment, even though it is based on today’s Mini.
BMW’s Munich-based design team has decided to move the Mini design language on a generation, introducing a wedge-like look to the car.
An additional picture seen by Autocar, but which cannot be published due to embargo restrictions until next Wednesday, shows that Mini has also added more ‘sculpture’ to the car’s flanks.
Inside, the Mini gets another makeover, although much of the switchgear will be carried over from today’s car. Some sources say that the interior pictured here may find its way into next year’s Mini Crossover first.
Judging by these spy shots, BMW has gone to considerable expense in re-engineering the Mini’s body. This model seems to show that the new car will have a clamshell tailgate, as well a new nose design with a much shorter bonnet and new one-piece bumper moulding.
Perhaps the biggest change is a more rising waistline, which, combined with the sloping roof, gives the Mini a much more dynamic and coupé-like appearance. The clamshell shut line is said to be a direct reference to the rear body seam of the original Austin Mini.
Although the new Mini sticks to the philosophy of design boss Gert Hildebrand (he says the car should be made from three slices – roof, windows and body side), it is much more poised than today’s car.
Hildebrand has also reworked the ‘trapezoidal’ rear lamps, bringing them proud of the body in another nod to the original Austin Mini.
At the front the Mini gets more aggressive headlamps, which are no longer round but subtly four-sided. The shortened bonnet (today’s car has one-piece steel clamshell bonnet) is a direct result of pedestrian protection regs.
In future, the nose will be a softer one-piece plastic moulding. The grille and lower air intake are larger, suggesting that the Mini 3 will have BMW’s Valvetronic engines, including larger units than today’s 1.6-litre motor.
Inside BMW’s stylists have changed the dash’s appearance with new upper and lower mouldings and a different central speedo. However, the lower half of the centre console (including the climate controls and gearstick surround) remains the same, as do the steering and circular air vents.
The new Mini is likely to pitched as more of a sporting three-door coupé and less of a compact hatch. By pushing it as a rival for the Audi TT, at around £10,000 less, BMW hopes to secure higher showroom ‘transaction prices’.
If the typical Mini 3 purchase is a £17,000 Cooper S then the car will, according to the marketing logic, be seen as a bargain high-quality sports coupé rather than an expensive three-door hatch.