A second chance to chat with BMW design chief Adrian van Hooydonk in the space of a couple of months at BMW’s Christmas press event in London.

We last spoke pre-Paris when the main subject of conversation was Mini’s design future. Since then Mini design chief Gert Hildebrand has announced he will step down after ten years in charge at Mini. On January 1 2011, Anders Warming will take over.

Warming has been van Hooydonk’s right-hand man at BMW, leading the new 5-series, 7-series and a brace of X models into production. He’s a safe pair of hands. So can we expect any changes at Mini? Yes and reading between the lines, in some senses, they might be bigger than expected.

The important step forward seems to be that as Mini renews its line-up in the next-generation, there will be more visual differentiation between the models. “We don’t want that cookie-cutter look of all the models looking too similar,” said van Hooydonk, “we can find a bit of space between them.”

The foundation of the range — the hatchback — will set the design tone, and be close to the recent design themes, but we can expect the spin-off models to be a little more adventurous. “Of all our brands, Mini has the youngest buying profile and those are people who are more open to change.”