You might not be familiar with Sir Alec Issigonis, but his name has made as much impact on the motoring landscape, particularly in Britain, as anyone else in the history of the automobile.

Issigonis was the man behind the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor--the famous Mini.

He died in 1988, but November 18 marks his 107th birthday, and it's the day BMW has chosen to reveal the latest generation hatchback to bear the MINI name.

The new MINI will have separate, simultaneous unveiling ceremonies at the MINI's spiritual home at the MINI plant in Oxford, England, as well as Los Angeles and Tokyo. Just a few weeks later the car will make its public debut at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, before its U.S. public debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

BMW promises the premiere will pay tribute to the MINI's origins, including Sir Alec himself. Issigonis' template--a transversely-mounted engine, front wheel drive, a wheel at each corner and a body optimized for passenger space, have influenced just about every small passenger car since 1959--the year the Mini debuted.

It's a layout you'll find on today's MINI too, and won't be changing for the 2014 MINI Cooper--though for the first time in the Mini's history, a three-cylinder engine will be available.

There's little chance the original car's sense of fun will have disappeared though--nimble handling, sharp steering and a compact body have remained MINI hallmarks since day one.

The new car is likely to share design cues with the recently-unveiled MINI Vision concept car. That means curvy bodywork with improved aerodynamics, large circular daytime running lights around the headlamps, and the return of a large, round, central display on the interior.

The Vision concept will debut at next month's Frankfurt Auto Show, and we expect more details on the MINI itself will emerge before its November launch. The new MINI will go on sale in the first quarter 2014.


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