The fourth-generation New Mini promises to be the most radical redesign since BMW relaunched the brand in 2000.
Undisguised photos of the next-generation Mini three-door hatch have been doing the rounds overnight, first on Chinese social media and now on platforms we’re more familiar with.
They appear to show the new car completely undisguised next to some camouflaged prototypes at a parking lot in China somewhere.
We think these pictures are legit because many of the styling details marry up with the camouflaged prototype Mini unveiled in early November, although that car had BMW-style wing mirrors, while these cars have Mini’s preferred flagpole units.
Up front the new Mini features the brand’s signature round headlights. Unlike the first three generations of the New Mini, the bonnet doesn’t have a clamshell design and no longer fully encapsulates the headlight units.
There’s a new take on the familiar grille. This Cooper S features a black frame, but the majority of the “grille” is body colour with small visible gaps for engine cooling.
The new car’s profile follows the previous three generations with blacked out pillars giving the Mini a floating roof look, while the overhangs seem to be shorter than at present.
Innovations include a steeper rake for the front windscreen, and the use of lift-up door handles for the first time.
The most radical change has taken place at the rear, where the Mini’s signature rectangular tail-light cluster has been replaced by a new triangular design. Despite the change in shape, it looks as though the Mini will still be available with a Union Jack lighting signature.
A black strip across the tailgate serves to link up the lighting units, and also carries the model designation.
Stepping inside there’s a strikingly minimalist dashboard with, at least on this prototype, a fabric cover and a leatherette strap on the passenger’s side.
Keeping with today’s fashion the steering wheel has just two spokes. Ahead of the driver the instrumentation pod has been replaced by a head-up display.
In the centre of the dashboard is a large free-standing circular slab for the infotainment system with edge-to-edge glass. Underneath there’s a small elliptical pod with a line of physical knobs and switches.
Beneath the skin, petrol versions of the fourth-generation Mini are expected to ride on BMW’s FAAR front- and all-wheel drive architecture, which is an evolution of the UKL platform used by today’s model.
This likely means a selection of turbocharged three- and four-cylinder engines will be available at launch.
Electric models are being jointly developed by BMW and Great Wall Motors, and will be built in China for sale around the world. It’s unclear if the electric version of the classic Mini three-door will ride on the FAAR platform, or something different.
Last month Mini confirmed the new three-door hatch will launch in time for the 2023 model year. It will be followed by a convertible, a larger Countryman crossover, and a smaller crossover to bridge the size gap.