The all-new Mini hatchback has been seen for the first time, having shed its camouflage in leaked images ahead of a launch early next year.
The second generation of Mini’s small EV – now called the Cooper – will be built in China atop a new front-wheel-drive platform engineered by Spotlight Automotive, BMW’s joint venture with Great Wall.
A petrol-engined version, evolved more obviously from the current car, will be builtin Oxford, sitting on an entirely different platform but taking the same design direction. Autocar has already reported in-depth details of the long-awaited 2024 Cooper, following a briefing from Mini boss Stefanie Wurst and a prototype ride in Sweden, but new images sent to Autocar give our first look at the final production design.
The resemblance to today’s car is evident, and indeed it still measures roughly 3800mm from bumper to bumper, but it’s clear Mini’s designers have worked hard to make good on a promise to bring “the iconic hatch back to its roots”.
A wider track, shorter overhangs, a longer wheelbase and larger wheels give the Fiat 500 rival a noticeably more purposeful stance, while the company’s vocal commitment to minimalism (and thereby sustainability) extends to a much purer and simpler overall treatment.
Gone are the chunky black plastic wheel-arch claddings, clamshell bonnet, contrasting trim accents and chrome headlight surrounds of today’s Mini Electric, in favour of a fresh look majoring more on function than fashion.
Wurst recently gave Autocar some insight into why the car was being reinvented with less of an overt ‘premium’ focus: “I think Mini in away is a very modern and contemporary product. It isn’t about being big or premium, it’s about a certain lifestyle that you have. You take things more easily, you’re not tense about what your income status is, what kind of hierarchy level you work at. It’s more a state of mind.”
The interior of the new car has yet to be shown, but it will follow suit with an emphasis on approachability and simplicity. There will be an ignition key-style starter, for example, and physical switches and buttons will still be used for the most important controls. Mini’s trademark circular central display will be filled by an infotainment screen and there will be no traditional gauge cluster, with important data and information instead displayed in a “funky” way on the dashboard.
The electric Cooper is due on sale in May 2024, followed about two months later by the petrol Cooper.
The new EV will match the current Electric’s 181bhp and is expected to get from 0-62mph in roughly 7.0sec. That would make it nearly as quick as today’s petrol-engined Cooper S hot hatch and, more importantly, a close rival to the new Abarth 500e.
But that won’t be the quickest EV: a warmed-up Cooper SE is in the pipeline with 215bhp, promising to serve as a contender for supremacy in the nascent electric hot hatch segment. And that will eventually be eclipsed by a John Cooper Works, thought to muster around 250bhp.
The electric Cooper will use a 40kWh battery for a claimed range of 240 miles (up on just 150 miles in today’s Electric), while the Cooper SE will use a larger, 54kWh pack to push closer to 300 miles.
Mini has yet to confirm how quickly the electric Cooper will charge, or how the battery is arranged within the platform.
The petrol Cooper – basically a heavily updated and rebodied version of the hatchback that has been on sale since 2014 – is expected to use fettled versions of today’s turbo engines (a 1.5-litre triple in the Cooper and a 2.0-litre four-pot in the Cooper S) with commensurate improvements in efficiency and performance.
Detailed specifications won’t be shared until closer to launch, but we expect the electric Cooper to start some way above £30,000, given that the Electric already costs from £32,550.
Its closest rival, the Fiat 500 EV, opens at £28,195 currently, but that’s with a 24kWh battery and a range of only 118 miles.
From launch, the Cooper line-up will comprise just a three-door hatchback with the choice of a petrol or an electric powertrain.
The five-door hatchback will be indirectly replaced next year by the similarly long but higher riding, electric-only Aceman. A replacement Convertible is also in the works, but this isn’t expected before 2025.