New generation Mini:”Don’t screw with an icon”

Core model will anchor a bold expansion of the brand’s model line-up in 2023.

The next-generation Mini hatch will have the biggest makeover since the three-door hatch was revived by BMW in 2001, according to brand boss Bernd Körber – but he promised it will remain faithful to the classic design.

The fourth generation of the BMW-owned marque’s core model is due to arrive in 2023, heading a new era of models that will include a reworked Countryman and a new compact SUV. As previously reported by Automotive Daily’s partner Autocar, the new hatch will shrink in size and be offered with both petrol and fully electric powertrains.

The new SUV and enlarged Countryman will eventually be joined by other new models that push Mini’s range into new areas, but Körber said the hatch will stay true to its original philosophy. He said Mini’s approach to the hatch was “don’t screw with an icon”, comparing it to Porsche’s treatment of its flagship model. “The 911 has to be carefully developed over time because it’s what Porsche stands for,” said Körber. “It’s similar for us, and similar in that at one point Porsche had to make a step beyond what it was associated with, and now they have a much broader portfolio.

“What’s important is that the entire portfolio needs to have the DNA of Mini. After more than 60 years, it’s necessary that Mini makes a bold step ahead, but it also has to stay true to its core, and that’s the three-door hatch.”

Körber added: “What you’ll see in 2023 is that we’ve clearly modernised it by taking a big step – the biggest step in the last 20 years – but it will be unmistakably a Mini.”

Mini design chief Oliver Heilmer said balancing the strong heritage of the Mini brand with the need to reinvent itself was “a balance we deal with on a daily basis”. Although he hinted that future models – such as a production version of the recently revealed Urbanaut concept – could push the brand in new directions, he said Mini takes a more cautious approach to the three-door hatch.

“The closer we’re coming to the next generation of what Mini is known for – the three-door hatch – the more careful we need to be to not change too many things in a single step,” said Heilmer. “We’ll keep what is well known for being a Mini: that’s not just design features but the proportions, compact feel and friendly personality.”

James Attwood

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