MINI Vision concept car
It's still the basic hatchback which mirrors the original car closest, but the current model is up for replacement in the next year or so.
The car you see here, called the MINI Vision, could be that replacement.
We've already seen spy shots of the next MINI, which at the time didn't seem promising. The long-distance photos showed a car with odd proportions, albeit hidden beneath camouflage.
MINI's citrus-sharp PR team quickly countered with an amusing paparazzi-baiting press release, but it's the Vision concept which could give the best cues as to the next generation car.
That's not such a bad thing either, as the Vision's proportions and details look far better than those hastily-grabbed spy shots implied. The Vision is a riot of smooth, curved surfaces and neat touches, and while obviously a concept car, there's little reason why the production model shouldn't keep the concept's general appearance.
Among the most obvious styling details are the distinct "organo metal" fiber composite wheel arches, which intersect with the roof via a similarly-finished strip which echoes the classic Mini's "a-frame" post--though we're sure MINI has avoided the rust issues that particular section was known for!
The roof itself is the best expression yet of the "floating" roof found on most modern MINIs, the A-, B- and C-pillars all but invisible behind the car's glass area.
The MINI's distinctive grille and round headlights remain, albeit redesigned this time around. The headlights in particular stand out with LED daytime running lights around their circumference, while the new larger tail lights give the MINI's rump a less bulbous appearance than before.
Fewer interior details are likely to remain--the Union Jack-style door pockets and 'MINI Disco' light-up floor are unlikely to survive--but several traditional MINI details have found their way onto the concept, including a sporty three-spoke steering wheel and a large, round central display.
While MINI hasn't yet announced an engine range, it doesn't take much guesswork to assume it'll be cleaner and greener than ever when the car appears in 2014.
This will be aided by a more aerodynamic body design, but a new range of engines will also appear--including a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine shared with several other BMW models.
The MINI Vision concept is expected to debut at September's Frankfurt Auto Show, and the production MINI at a show soon after.