Soon we’ll start to see test mules and leaked photos of the F56, the third generation of the new MINI. These will lead up to an official online debut of the car before we see it make the auto show circuit. The F56 will signal a major sea change for MINI. Not only will it feature three and four cylinder versions of the next generation Prince engine, the F56 will share its underpinnings with BMW’s upcoming FWD 1-series. This has everyone interested in the brand scratching their heads wondering just what MINI has up their sleeve for the next generation. Will it be the Rocketman scaled up? Will it push back toward the venerable and well-loved R53? These are the burning questions many are asking, and the possibilities have inspired former BMW designer Sonny Lim to venture his own guess at what the next generation MINI could look like.
Size-wise, Lim’s concept comes in at somewhere between the diminutive Rocketman concept and the current Hardtop. Throughout, Lim says his motivation was to take the car back to its roots, while giving it the modern presence. The term “Zero” is also significant to his thinking:
The design of the MINI Zero is modern, sophisticated and athletic. It evolves the current design language but still stays true to the main iconic MINI characteristics. These iconic elements have helped shape the identity of the brand and its cars. However, the concept also challenges other aspects of the brand which have overshadowed the original intent of Sir Alec Issigonis’ classic MINI.
The MINI Zero presses the reset button and goes back to the humble roots of the classic MINI. In short this concept embodies:
- Zero “schnickschnack” (gimmicks) – it is the most basic, entry-level car in the range and is positioned under the Mini ONE.
- Zero compromise – it is a pure & tailored design and does not rely on chrome exterior trim & other plastic bits.
- Zero “schicki-micki” (trendy-fancy) – it is authentic and the spiritual successor of the classic MINI.
- Zero fat – all the above results in an ultra-lightweight MINI (840 kg) and a very good power-to-weight ratio without a large carbon footprint.
It’s an imaginative concept to say the least. How well it compares to the real F56 is a question only a few people can answer right now. Here’s some of what we do know, however.
- The design is finalized. Key people inside MINI and BMW have previewed the final designs for both the F56 MINI and the BMW 1-series.
- The BMW and the MINI are very different. Sources who’ve been in the room with cars have told MF that only the shrewdest eye would be able to perceive the two cars’ common underpinnings.
- The exterior design of the F56 will be very different from what’s come before it, yet be instantly recognizable as a MINI. Look for elements of the Rocketman concept, and familiar MINI design elements interpreted in new ways.
- The interior will also be a complete redesign from the ground up reinterpreting the MINI design language into something fresh and more user friendly. So far, the response from both internal MINI people as well as test audiences has been overwhelmingly positive.
Whatever the final product, one thing we can guarantee is that the F56 will be a turning point for MINI. For better or worse, the F56 will embody the full mechanical departure from MINI’s Rover roots into the haus of BMW. We can also guarantee it’ll be controversial. For some, the F56 will be a revelation. For others, it will quite literally ruin the brand. What do you hope to see in the F56? Sound off in the comments.