Merry Christmas… Here's the 2005 MINI

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Well we all knew it was bound to happen. Today marks the first time that we can actually see the cosmetic changes to the '05 MINI range. These exclusive pics come straight from MINI2 and a big thanks should go out to Paul Mullet who made a big effort to bring them to us. I know he's been working on getting these for some time – thanks Paul!

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Our new exclusive leaked images show in more detail some of the changes that will come in for the convertible and upcoming 2005 revised MINI range, for which we expect, and have reported on, a range of cosmetic and engineering modifications.

A snapper in the US recently captured a long range shot of the new MINI, one thing that really grabbed people was the new Cooper bumper trim, however the image was a little unclear and this probably raised more questions than it answered. Well, we hope this answers those questions:

You couldn't see the rear of the new MINI in the photos that were shown previously, and of course, the tail end bumper will include modifications to echo those on the front of the car. As mentioned previously, the “chrome line” Classic Mini style bumper inserts are gone, and a new look will be offered instead. The other change, shown below, is the rear fog light mounted low and centre.

For those of you unfamiliar with our previous reports, you may wonder why the rear fog light has been moved to the centre? The reason is the new rear light clusters that will also come in to production next year.

Analysis

First off let it be said that these design changes are certainly very noticeable. One of the largest frontal changes seems to be the elimination of the chrome strips (which of course were an option) in favor of the smaller chrome strip that runs across the lower air intake. Further, and possibly in an effort to match the current level of chrome, the designers have chosen to outline the front foglights in chrome as well. I would assume this chrome will now be part of the “chrome line trim” package that is currently offered on the Cooper.

Also upfront we see the secondary lights are now more flush with the bumper and appear to be slightly larger than before. The lower black piece on the bumper now has a bit of contour to it where there was none before (actually reminding me of the upcoming 2005 M5). It, along with the shape of the lower grille, seems to lend itself to a more aggressive look.

Around back we see more design changes. First off, as Paul mentions in the MINI2 article the rear fogs move to where the reverse light had been previously. Further the light clusters are cleaned up a bit design wise and the yellow turn indicator lights have been reduced probably in an effort to follow current automotive fashion trends.

Interstingly the rear retains the small bumps on the back which will continue to be part of the chrome line trim option on the MC. The lower black portion seems to borrow some design cues from the current crop of BMW M cars (as does the lower front spoiler mentioned previously).

When you look at the changes for the first time you can't help but notice how the chrome has been used in different ways than before. In the past when chrome was used it was of course used on actual metal. But in this day in age of constant concern of the safety of pedestrians chrome and large amounts of metal (even in larger trucks) has all but disappeared. Because of that it seems as if designers have largely forgotten the real reasons for a surface like that of chrome. Surely chrome accents are easy to understand but the use of chrome on bumpers and bumper guards is lost on this car. Now of course the question is… is this a bad thing? I'm not sure I can answer that from these photos but it is interesting to note the changes in the design language of the car as it's heritage moves forward.

Overall I'd say these changes are interesting steps in a new direction. They are clean and modern. They don't extend the retro look yet they don't negate it either.