Although we have spied the real car several times, the new Mini Vision concept car gives us a pretty good official preview of the next-generation Mini Cooper hatchback.
Although the company says the Vision concept, "showcases various elements of future MINI design," the car is clearly only a few fanciful touches away from the 2014 Mini Cooper hatches we spotted undisguised earlier this month. The basic shape is very similar to today's Mini Cooper, albeit with a more rounded nose, a more dramatically angled windshield, and a slight cant to the contrast-colored roofline. Though it's hard to tell on this concept, our earlier spy photos show that the 2014 Mini Cooper will be a little wider and longer than before, likely producing more interior room.
The Mini Vision wears Glamorous Gold paint and features full-LED round headlights on its nose, plus a hexagonal mesh grille opening said to be inspired by that of the original Mini Cooper. As on the cars we spied, the grille is bisected by a flat plastic bar, although on this concept, the foglights are mounted on this bar to make room for air intakes in the lower corners of the front fascia. Mini's familiar contrasting cladding for the fenders and rocker panels is a silver material called "organo metal" on the concept, and it extends up the front fenders to meet the base of the A-pillar. Mini says that the front fascia air intakes, wheel designs, mirrors, and roof spoiler all help reduce aerodynamic drag.
The inside of the Mini Vision deviates very little from the existing Mini Cooper, with a broad dashboard that features a dinner plate-sized infotainment screen. A Driving Experience Control function lets drivers choose between several modes for all the interior screens, and the circular display can show both two-dimensional and three-dimensional imagery. A trio of dials controls the climate control, a large red toggle switch appears to perform engine start-top functions, and a small new joystick sits behind the blocky shifter. That all fits with our spy photos showing that the iDrive-like infotainment controller, steering wheel, and climate controls on the 2014 Mini Cooper would adopt more-traditional BMW designs than the pretty but awkward toggle switches in the current car.
Because this is a Mini concept, there is at least one fanciful touch. A "disco" mode produces flashing shapes and colors inside the car, so the car "appears to come vibrantly to life." We doubt that will reach the production model. More practical elements include a Mini Click system that, like the rails in the Paceman and Countryman, allows owners to mix and match accessories like cupholders that attach to the center console. Elastic fabric strips on the door panels are arranged in the shape of a Union Jack's stripes, and can hold small items like water bottles, phones, or magazines.
The production 2014 Mini Cooper is expected to debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. It will be based on a new chassis called UKL and is codenamed F56. The Mini Cooper will be mechanically related to the upcoming, front-wheel-drive BMW 1 Series. Expect new three-cylinder turbocharged engines in most models, although the Mini Cooper S and JCW variants may stick with a 1.6-liter turbo-four to deliver more fun.