The electric Mini Aceman built by Chinese car maker Great Wall Motors has been pictured on public roads for the first time.
The new Mini Aceman – its first new model name in 10 years – will launch as a small electric crossover to fill the gap between the flagship Mini hatchback and Mini Countryman SUV.
Due on sale in 2024, the Mini Aceman is a clean-sheet design and the second in a series of EVs using Mini’s Spotlight platform, developed by BMW and Chinese partner Great Wall Motors.
Sightings of the model have previously been slim, but it has now been photographed on public roads for the first time undergoing a phase of testing near BMW’s research and development centre in Munich, Germany.
The Aceman will arrive after the third-generation Countryman, which will grow significantly to become the biggest Mini yet, creating a more obvious gap in the line-up. The Aceman measures 1590mm high, 4050mm long and is 1990mm wide, but the electric version of the next Mini hatchback will also use the same platform.
As it shares its architecture with the forthcoming Mini hatch, it’s a reasonable expectation that the Aceman will share its drivetrain options.
The hatch will come in entry-level Cooper trim, with 135kW and a 40kWh battery, while the warmed-up Cooper S will get 165kW and a 50kWh battery for a range of around 400km.
Older spy photos showed the Aceman wearing its final production bodywork, showing not just how it has evolved from the radical concept, but also giving clues as to how Mini’s design language will change as it moves onto the next generation of cars, beginning with the new Countryman and hatch in 2023.
Most noticeably, it’s clear how aerodynamic efficiency will play a more defining role in Mini’s design language as it moves to an all-electric line-up, with the production-spec Aceman adopting a rounded, clean front end and a less upright stance than the concept – although the silhouette has been broadly carried over.
In its positioning as the smallest five-door Mini model, the Aceman will in effect take over from today’s Mini Clubman estate, which isn’t due to come back as an EV in Mini’s new-look product line-up, so expect similar levels of space front and rear – as well as comparable luggage capacity.
Otherwise, camouflage obscures many of the key details – save for the distinctive large headlights shared with the new Mini hatchback. The firm’s two most recent concepts, the Aceman and minimalistic Strip, showcased just how far the brand will go in its pursuit of enhanced sustainability for its cars. The showroom-ready Aceman will follow suit, by and large shunning chrome and leather and adopting a clean, one-screen central display for control of most key functions.
Representing a bold departure from the current crop of Mini’s, the Aceman’s interior is dominated by a large central screen and a set of five toggle switches. Aside from these, buttons are almost entirely absent from the sustainable textile or leatherette-clad dashboard fascia.