Mini Vision Design for New Generation - "Keep the fire burning" +VIDEO

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By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

MUNICH - July 26, 2013: Mini has showed us its design direction for the near future. The very near future indeed, as the first model of the next generation will be unveiled before the end of this year.

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At yesterday's MINI Design@Home event in the lion’s den, BMW’s FIZ research and development center in Munich, the brand showed its vision on the styling of the new generation Mini’s. Under the open roof area surrounded by loft-like workspaces, some classic and all current Mini models were the model for the brand’s history. Head of Mini Design Anders Warming and his team, showed us how they get their ideas, make sketches and drawings leading up to a new model. While Annette Baumeister, Head of Colour and Trim Design Mini, showed how new materials are explored and colors are combined.

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But honestly, I was especially looking forward to any news about the styling of the new generation. We did not see a concept car yet, nor were any details confirmed, but we were shown a 3D hologram of the ‘MINI Vision’ on a large screen. Both Adrian van Hooydonk, Vice-president Design of the BMW Group and Anders Warming explained the ‘vision’. By reading between the lines and absorbing the looks of the Vision, you can I can draw some conclusions. The nose will be getting a classic Mini inspired hexagonal grille, including the integrated bumper with auxiliary lights. We can also expect the elliptical LED headlights with outer LED-rings as running daytime lights, as well as the bulge on the hood behind the air intake. Adrian van Hooydonk said that, even though the brand has small cars, CO2-emission is important and consequently aerodynamics are. That is why I expect to see the air intakes in the middle and on both side of the bumper, as well as a more pronounced roof spoiler, in any case on the Cooper models.

Watch the MINI Vision promo video

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Important for weight saving is the use of new materials. Therefore, the new Mini will likely get composite moldings pronouncing the wheel arches and door sills, offering additional possibilities for individualizing by using different colors. New rear lights are larger than those of the current generation, showing big round lights, but maintaining the vertical character.
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Also the interior has a complete new design without losing the main styling of the current model. According to Anders Warming it will be a transparent and open cockpit,. The new models will get new seats that look like bucket seats, but offer more comfort in the backrest. Relevant information for the driver will be analog displayed on round instruments behind the steering wheel. Mini is already strong in offering multimedia possibilities and will further develop Mini Connected. Also the offering of a head-up display is on the plan boards.

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Mr. Van Hooydonk: “From market research we know that fans like Mini to stay as it is. But that is impossible. Each brand is a living entity and you will have to feed the brand, else it will die. Keep the fire burning. This also means we had consider very well how to keep the original character, how to develop and to modernize it. You have to be able to see the difference between the current and the new generation, but you want to develop a styling that holds the brand together, to keep the atmosphere in tact. But if you make only small steps, customers will move away to competitors.”

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The next generation Mini will be built on the new architecture that BMW also will use for the future BMW 1-Series. As this is a front wheel drive platform, which means that the 1-Series due in 2017/18 will get front wheel drive as well. Adrian van Hooydonk said that this gives Mini more time to consider the next steps more carefully. “To do a small car nowadays involves a lot of discussion with the engineers. You may expect that customers will be able to select suspension settings.” He means the modes, that BMW drivers are offered such as sport, comfort and economy. Mr. Van Hooydonk also said that the different models in the range will be drawn somewhat further apart. When asked, he said that a sedan “is not high on the list of priorities.” “You will see much more in the next 12 months. Though, the first new Mini will be the core model, the hatch,” was all the design chief could say upon many more questions asked by the attendants of the event. I guess that we will see it at the Los Angeles Auto show, that will open its door for the media on November 20.

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