Mini Vision Concept
Officially, it’s called the Mini Vision. Unofficially it’s a sneak preview of the next generation of the chic little front-drive British-built hatchback. It wasn’t that long ago we were able to show you spy photos of the 2014 Mini, and, unsurprisingly, the Vision looks a lot like that.
That hexagonal grille and its inset bumper feature prominently on both spied prototype and this concept, although the driving lights move inboard on the Vision, which ditches the lower grille seen on the test car. That gray cladding looping over the wheel arches and along the sills looks to stay, although perhaps not as prominently and perhaps minus the strip reaching to the base of the A-pillar. (It’s a treatment similar to the Countryman’s, though, so it may stay, too.) The profile view reveals a continuation of the floating-roof design, which now is canted slightly rearward, not unlike the Paceman, and more-scalloped door panels versus the current model. Another nod to the Paceman—and, of course, the Countryman—are the Vision’s enlarged taillamps.
While the basics of the interior will be awfully familiar to those who have owned current or previous-gen Minis, the detailing is rather different. The large central display remains, now used for functions controlled via a knob aft of the shift lever as in today’s Mini. But ahead of the driver sit not one, but two gauges that contain the speedo, the tach, and the fuel gauge. The center stack floats in the dash, tied top-to-bottom by a vertical component that houses the pushbutton ignition. It’s this section that was notoriously congested with toggle switches in the past, but there’s not one to be seen here. One neat trick we hope carries over to production is the Driving Experience Control switch, which changes interior illumination colors from a relaxing blue in normal operation to an energetic red in Sport mode. This switch also controls the Mini Disco footwell lighting. Elastic door-panel straps serve as, what Mini calls, a flexible retaining device—designed to hold magazines, mobile phones, water bottles, or what have you. What’s very neat about the flexible retaining device is that its straps are arranged to mimic the Union Jack—this, we’re afraid, won’t see production.
This new-generation Mini hatchback will share a great deal with the upcoming front-drive BMWs—previewed by the Bavarians’ Concept Active Tourer. The next Mini and next-gen 1-series will share architecture, although not exact wheelbase or track measurements. The British marque will make use of BMW’s B38 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder, and we expect a 2.0-liter turbo four to carry on in the lineup in some form. A diesel option for the U.S. market shortly after the car’s launch is a distinct possibility, but there’s no talk of any hybrid variants. Mini says that 35 percent of its hatchbacks sold in the U.S. roll off dealer lots with a manual transmission, so a row-your-own ’box will continue for 2014, as well as the option of a six-speed automatic.