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The Definition of MINI’s Design Icons

Over the years we’ve brought you many articles on MINI design. From dissecting current and upcoming models to talking about MINI design historically, the design section of MF has a good deal of content for the design conscious. And now we can add to that a definition of MINI icons from MINI themselves. The following icons are the very basic structure of MINI’s design DNA that has been carried from the original and will be front and center in the 3rd generation new MINI (the F56).

Official Release: Over the years, the styling of MINI cars has produced a host of design icons which have become synonymous with the brand as a whole and, in some cases, signature features of individual models. Collectively, these iconic elements have helped shape the identity of the brand and its cars.

Front end.

Dominated by the elliptical headlights set into its bonnet, the face of the MINI is extremely distinctive. The contemporary interpretation of the classic hexagonal radiator grille plays its part in defining the car’s eye-catching appearance. Other distinguishing features of the car’s face include a pair of “beauty spots” in the form of circular foglamps.

Wedge shape.

A shoulderline rising from front to rear and windows tapering towards the rear produce the hallmark MINI dynamic wedge shape.

Roof resting on top.

The design of the greenhouse – the glazed section of the passenger compartment – creates the impression of a band of glass wrapped around the car. The high-gloss black A, B and C-pillars are integrated into the glass surfaces. The contrast between the colour of the greenhouse and roof creates the impression of a “floating” roof resting on top of the greenhouse.

Side scuttle.

This design cue can trace its roots back to the very beginning; it follows the line of the welding seam sloping down the front side panel of the classic Mini.

Chromed door handles.

The chromed door handles of the classic Mini have since been revisited repeatedly, ensuring iconic status. Like a handshake, opening the door of a MINI represents the initial physical introduction between the car and its driver.

Vertically stacked rear lights.

The unmistakable, vertically stacked rear lights represent another nostalgic nod to the classic Mini. They are bordered by an elegant chrome surround sealed against the body without any direct connection to joins and seams.

Stance on the wheels.

The go-kart handling for which MINI is famed is the product of having its wheels mounted at each corner of the car – similarly to a go-kart. The mass-increasing “cascading” effect of the body as it heads down towards the wheels gives the car its essential roadholding.

Circular elements.

The interior of the car also references the classic Mini to create its air of authenticity. The clear structure of the controls is a typically MINI feature. Elliptical forms transplanting the style of the circular exterior elements inside the car add further distinctive touches.

Toggle switches.

Controls like the distinctive toggle switches add an extra flourish to the centre stack and even the roof liner.

Jewellery icons.

An array of chrome highlights and beautifully worked details are integrated like gems into the design of the car.

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Written By: Gabe

  • Stevereynolds9090

    This post once again reminds me why I have major love for my Mini.

    • R Burns

      This post sounds to me like a web brainstorming for MINI…

  • JonPD

    Glad to see this story that is a nice followup to the BMW design one on BF earlier. 

  • Hoover

    This is interesting.  I must say that I think that the roof design of the Countryman and the Coupe don’t conform as well to this design language.  I can’t remember where we heard this (either WRR or on MF), but rumor was that the F56 might have a roofline similar to the Countryman, with the rear section of the roof dipping down a bit over the C-pillar.  I don’t think I would like that, but we’ll see what happens.

    • Minnie Driver

       The Coupe is definitely a different roof design. I think MINI describes it as a backward baseball cap. It’s definitely sportier and more aerodynamic.

  • Brian

    Very nice.

  • Brian

    Very nice.

  • Hoover

    The rear lights of the Paceman Concept don’t conform to this, either–they are horizontal.  So, it will be interesting to see what makes it to production.  Personally, I liked the rear lights on the Paceman, and I think they helped differentiate it from the R60.   I wonder how we’ll feel when we see it with the additional cut lines for the two Club doors.  In concept form, I loved the clean lines of the Paceman, so I am really curious to see the final product.

    • Minnie Driver

       Ah, don’t forget, the Paceman is still a concept. If you look at the Traveller concept you’ll see the headlights/taillights didn’t translate to the final MINI model (the Clubman in this case.) It’s always exciting to see a new MINI concept, though!

      • veggivet

        Yes, but a concept that you’ll be able to order this November. 

  • Frank Granados

    Replace the R56 photos with a properly designed and proportionated R50/53 and the article will then convey its true meaning.

    • goat

      Amen.  +1 Quoted For Truth.

    • Anonymous

      bleh to that

  • Anonymous

    I picked the black “accent color” for the rear pillars on my Clubman to maintain the “wrap around” greenhouse design w/ “floating roof” which is one of my favorite MINI icons. 

  • hfred

    Interesting explanation! Thanks!

  • Anderoo

    It bears no resemblance in size or styling to the iconic Mini and will never have the status of the real Mini, the only thing it has in common is the name, it is a German engine in an with an American car that happens to be UK built…not a good combination, this is reflected in the fact that according to the Driving standards Agency it is the most unreliable car on driving tests. The true Mini can still beat them on the track, its a BINI…


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MINI Model Cheat Sheet

1st Gen MINI
R50: One & MC Hatch
R52: All 1st Gen MINI Convt.
R53: MCS Hatch
2nd Gen MINI
R55: Clubman
R56: Hatch
R57: Convertible
R58: Coupe
R59: Roadster
R60: MINI Crossover
R61: MINI Crossover Coupe
3rd Gen MINI
F54: Clubman
F55: Five Door Hatch
F56: Hatch
F57: Convertible
F60: MINI Crossover
F58: Traveller

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