The little EV will be a meeting place for tech and tradition.
When BMW took control of Mini, traditionalists feared the British carmaker would lose its way. But, two decades later, German ownership has seen the boutique brand grow from strength to strength. A varied lineup means there's something for everyone, with the Mini Cooper Electric Hardtop providing consumers with an eco-friendly alternative.
The company's first-ever EV is just the start of a new era, though. Mini plans to go all-electric by 2030 and has been readying a slew of newcomers to meet that goal. We've seen spy shots of the new battery-powered Mini undergoing cold-weather testing and there are rumors of an electric Paceman, too.
Ahead of this transition, the company has shared what future Minis will look like. Described as "forward-looking", the new design language will combine cutting-edge technology with traditional styling cues that are unmistakably Mini. However, each new model will have a unique "character of its own" all sporting a more minimalist look.
It's not just the exterior that benefits from an extensive redesign. In keeping with the sustainability theme, the next-generation Mini will eschew leather for an earth-friendly alternative, while most of the chrome decorations will disappear almost entirely.
"Purely [electric] models from Mini give us a unique opportunity to rethink our design. At the same time, we retain the attention to detail, sense of tradition, and passion for innovation that Mini is renowned for," said Mini's head of design, Oliver Heilmer. Unlike the current Mini EV, the new generation has been designed as an electric car from the beginning.
This means engineers have been able to create more interior space but still retain the compact dimensions the brand is known for. It's not just the smallest Cooper that will receive the electric treatment; the larger Countryman will also receive a purely electric drive. We will soon get a glimpse of an EV crossover for the premium compact segment - finally, Mini will have something to rival the Mercedes-Benz EQA.
We'll get a glimpse of the concept in July, with Mini noting it will be the first preview of the company's new design ethos. As mentioned, the interior will be built with sustainability in mind - but still prove to be a visual and tactile delight. First seen in the Mini Vision Urbanaut, OLED technology for the control unit and digital display will house more functions in a single control panel.
In a nod to tradition, this will be housed in the central instrument binnacle which lends plenty of character to the cabin. Thankfully, Mini says it will still retain delightful analog switches for some controls - a much-loved feature that's disappearing from modern cars.
Many may mourn the loss of the ICE-powered Mini. After all, the JCW models are an absolute hoot to chuck around and even the base models can charm you with their playful ways. But, if ever there was a brand to embrace the EV era, it's Mini.