Despite the push for electrification and autonomous tech, the Mini will still have an “emotional” design language.
60 years after the original model was born, the Mini still has one of the most iconic and instantly recognizable shapes in the auto industry. Making any significant changes would be sacrilegious. When BMW took over and relaunched the Mini for the new millennium, the design still stayed respectful to the original, even if it had a bit of a growth spurt. The new fully electric Mini Cooper SE doesn't have a drastically different design, either.
Speaking to BMW Blog, Mini's new Head of Exterior Design, Thomas Sycha, promises that future models will still retain the automaker's "emotional" design language, despite advances in electrification and autonomous technology.
"The future is something positive for me," Sycha said. "That's what drives us all here…I strongly believe that a Mini will retain its sympathetic expression. To exaggerate somewhat: even if it were to become a self-driving box, the experience in a Mini would always be very personal and radiate sympathy. Just what form that would take is what we're working on. The Mini experience has to be charged with optimism: when you see your Mini again in the morning, you instantly sense that it's probably going to be a good day."
"To be specific: for me, Mini will definitely remain emotional in the future, despite the ubiquitous process of digitalization, or indeed precisely because of," Sycha asserted when asked about the future design of Mini cars.
Of course, it's hard to ignore the advances in electrification and autonomous driving systems, which will inevitably influence how cars will be designed in the future. However, he admitted that some features may need to be adapted. One of the Mini's most distinctive design features, for example, are its two round "friendly" headlamps, but Sycha believes they will no longer be required for autonomous cars. A Mini wouldn't look right without them, somehow.
Some argue that electric cars look soulless (we're looking at you, Volkswagen ID.3), but Sycha is adamant the Mini will still stand out from the crowd. "I would like a Mini to still be immediately and authentically recognizable, trigger positive emotions and perhaps also have an impact on other design areas," he said. "So generally speaking: the challenge is to retain the iconic character traits of a Mini and translate them into the new technoid world – so that a Mini doesn't become a soulless, self-propelled capsule in the future."