Mini Promises New Design Language for the EV Age
Mini is updating its design language ahead of the debut of three new models in a short span of time, with the new style dubbed Charismatic Simplicity.
The automaker will begin producing the next-gen Cooper and Countryman later this fall, with the Aceman due in 2024.
The next-gen Cooper hardtop, set to be offered in EV form, will be the first major redesign in a decade.
Mini's model range is about to take a sharp turn toward EVs, and this inevitably means an evolution of the brand's design language. The current generation basic hardtop arrived in late 2013, after all, so quite a bit of time has passed between the debut of the outgoing model and the arrival of the next-gen Cooper.
And just ahead of the arrival of a fresh new crop of Mini models, the automaker has revealed a few more details about its new style, dubbed Charismatic Simplicity, giving the world a preview of upcoming design elements.
The aim is to give each new model its own strong individual character via distinctive styling features, while also giving the model range a family look.
"With our new Charismatic Simplicity design language, we are completely rethinking the iconic Mini. Our purist, progressive approach combines the simplicity of functional elements with the emotionality that Mini is renowned for," said Oliver Heilmer, Head of Mini Design (pictured above).
Of course, there are a few boundaries with Mini design compared to other brands. Under the BMW umbrella over the past two decades, Minis have maintained a strong resemblance to the initial Cooper model of 2000 patterned after the classic Austin Minis, even if they have continuously grown in size over the three generations of the basic Cooper two-door hardtop.
For the next generation of models, Mini is keeping the circular central instrument display, as part of what it calls a visually reduced interior. With a diameter of 9.4 inches, the new OLED infotainment touchscreen now combines all the features of an instrument cluster with the functions of on-board monitor and climate controls. The new frameless appearance promises a minimalistic user interface—a quality that we'll have to see for ourselves to fully appreciate.
"We are convinced that the conscious reduction to a few, but expressive elements enable innovations that would have been unthinkable before," Heilmer promises.
Mini is also making a few changes to the look of its steering wheel. But don't worry—it's not becoming a yoke. In fact, it will look far more retro than just about all other modern automakers' steering setups.
There will be two steering designs to choose from: a two-spoke wheel will be standard, while an optional version will feature a third spoke with a fabric finish in addition to what Mini calls a sporty geometry.
Seats are changing as well, with Mini promising armrests that will be integrated into the seats for the first time. The automaker also promises that Vibrant Silver will be a recurring interior color theme, with a shimmering metallic look.
When it comes to exterior design, it is evident even in these camouflaged photos that Mini is actually folding many of the proportions and details into the next-gen models.
But when it comes to wheels, the choices will be effectively unrecognizable to current Mini owners. A six-spoke fan blade design is easily the star of the new wheel lineup, with Mini betting on a bold and two-dimensional look unlike anything in the British Leyland model's long history.
"The completely redesigned light-alloy wheels also follow the principle of the new design language. The Mini wheels of the upcoming model family no longer focus on the sculptural nature of the spoke structure, but on a graphic design characterized by strong color contrasts," the automaker notes.
When will we see the first Mini models with this new design language?
The next-gen Cooper hardtop and Countryman will enter production this November, while the Aceman crossover will arrive later in 2024. All three will be built in Leipzig, Germany, alongside other small BMW models. So in a very short span of time we'll see three new Minis materialize.
Will Mini be able to transition its customers to EVs in a relatively short span of time, or will there still be plenty of demand for gas-powered Minis later this decade? Let us know what you think.