MINI Responds to F56 Spy Photos

Instead of turning a blind eye to yesterday’s F56 expose, MINI has cheekily shot back with a good natured press release. MF will have more on the F56 photogate in the coming days. But in the meantime read on and let MINI hear your thoughts in the comment section. They are certainly reading.

Official Release: Aggressive and relentless papping is something British celebrities have had to learn to live with. Members of the Royal Family, as well as actors, footballers and top models are all familiar with the sensation of being caught in uncompromising situations, and now MINI is the latest victim. Absolutely unaware and without make-up, the youngest member of our family was caught by sensationalist photographers in a highly private moment. The young one was yellow and completely defenceless. We understand the worldwide interest in our family but it is not the British way to send such unfavourable pictures around the globe.

But like a good stiff-upper-lipped Brit, MINI shall not complain, although we would like to officially state that we are not flattered. The published pictures do not reflect our good looks any way. As every celebrity knows, those extra long telephoto lenses have the devastating ability to negatively distort all surfaces, lines and angles. Therefore our advice: next time come closer to the object of desire. If that doesn’t work, don’t worry, shortly you will have the opportunity to experience the MINI up close and personal, and to take pictures from all angles.

Source: MINI

  • Frank Granados

    Sounds like a well orchestrated marketing stunt…

    • No way. If this was leaked, the photos would have been WAY better.

      • Frank Granados

        I still think this is all planned. Its a creative way to build ‘Buzz’ around a new soon to be launched popular product. Now days it is very easy to make photos look a certain way. I expect to see more of this type of viral campaigns as we get closer to launch day.

        • AMS


        • Frank Granados

          Please what?

      • pmindemann

        I agree with Nathaniel. This was in NO way flattering or helpful (i.e., why make your first impression a bad one?). At the same time, I don’t buy the argument that it’s all the fault of the lenses making it look bad. A fish mouth is a fish mouth. A long overhang is a long overhang. A huge tail light is a huge tail light, etc.

        • But if the angle and the distortion makes a long nose look even longer and out of proportion, that’s still something. Sure, the nose won’t be as flat and tucked as we’d like, but all I’m getting at is that what we’re seeing here is not a fair or accurate representation of what the car will look like in real life. Hell, both the GP2 and the Paceman look vastly better in person than they do in photographs — and that’s looking at flattering press photographs. Will the F56 be everybody’s cup of tea? Of course not. Will it look better in good photos and even better than that in person? I guarantee it.

        • minipuma

          A telephoto lens would make the nose look shorter, not longer (unless shooting directly from the side, in which case there wouldn’t be any distortion at all).

        • JonPD

          MINI and BMW has a unique talent for designing cars that look better in peson than in any photos.

    • Kev50027

      Even though I doubt it is, it would have been wise to do something like this. Sure, it made a lot of people angry that the car doesn’t look the way they want it to (including myself), but what do angry people want to do more than anything? Tell everyone about their anger! What does the spread of anger do? Spread the word that: There’s a new MINI!

      Also, as a PR student, I’ve learned that if you can get people angry about the looks of your product, they will pay a lot more attention to that product than if the looks made no impression on them. In this case, all of those who said they hate the design will definitely be looking for the car in showrooms and on the road to see if their concerns are justified.

      Many companies do use this tactic, and almost all of them cover up the fact that it is, in fact THEM that releases the photos. I think MINI is clever when it comes to marketing, but I don’t think they did this stunt.

  • UglyMINI

    “Blah blah blah…,” Face it. you designed an ugly fish face car.

    • agre_pl

      I agree, but the tone of the release and how they played is worth noticing. After all, judging by the opinions of all fans from around the world, they are in pretty crisis at the moment as the majority (I would say 70%+) of the opinions about the car were negative… they can not restyle it now, so this is a kind of a way out from this situation…

      lets see the real car in frankfurt. already booked several days off at work to do so 🙂

      • Except that with the exception of the Rocketman (ironically), the overwhelming majority of comments about ANYTHING new done by MINI are negative. So yeah, they read the comments, but they also keep them in perspective. I seriously doubt they’re panicking right now. This is not their first “we hate the new thing” rodeo.

        • pmindemann

          I don’t recall the 2007 redesign being this negative (70%?). To my recollection, it has primarily been the more recent, “growth” efforts (Countryman, Paceman), which were rightly decried as taking the brand in a less “mini” direction.

          I think when your core car is met with this much negative reaction, that’s a problem. Let’s just hope either:

          a) the “it’s the camera” argument proves to be true b) MINI does a quick fix before production starts somehow or c) a redesign is already in the works

        • lawrothegreat

          I remember when the R56 was released, everyone on another well known mini site said they would rush to buy R50/R53s….

        • I can 100% confirm that the R56 reaction was this negative and then some. I know this because at the time I was part of the group who hated every detail of the R56 for no good reason other than it was change. You can go back into the archive and read my own mindless vitriol. After actually driving several R5x cars for extended periods of time, I later came around to realize it’s a great car that, while not without faults, is an arguably better car than my R53 in a lot of key ways. I was so anti-R56 at the time that I spent money I didn’t really have to buy one of the last R53’s produced while I could still get one to my spec. While I don’t regret that decision, on the other side of things now (reading ALL the comments as they come in) I can’t help but chuckle at the consistent pattern of “New things suck!” we see from MINI fans. It’s extra funny to me how many people are using the R56 as the yard stick for the F56. A car that, at the time, was “a fugly, Pontiac Aztek-like abomination that will ruin the MINI brand forever because of its complete abandonment of their loyal fan base and blah blah blah screeeeeech!” When the next new thing comes along, the whole cycle will start over again. [Cue the music from The Lion King.]

        • Alexandre

          Thank you for writing that! Not sure if Gabe or you are preparing a well thought out answer to all the mindless comments and to the various photos that have circulated this week, but this is definitely a good one.

        • We’ll have a ton of analysis and editorial on the car once we actually get a good look at it. As for comments, this is exactly what we expected. Thing is, it’s fine. Let those people yell and scream and spit and throw a fit. That’s their prerogative. People who like the car will like the car. People who don’t like it, won’t like it. It’s not actually a big deal.

        • AMS

          You think these dweebs are bad? You should hang out with some nerds when a new edition of D&D is released…

        • Ha!

        • jppd

          Every iteration of the MINI excluding R53 has had its share of naysayers. I owned an 03 R53, 07R56, and now a Countryman. I liked them all except for MINIs desire to extract your hard earned dollar for everything. In essence the 2014 is more than likely to be a success in the marketplace given its past history. For me, I will wait a year or two until the usual problems associated with a new design.

        • alessandrop80

          I have to agree that it’s true that most people will just complain about something new. There is no doubt about that. But you have to admit that the R5x was the best design MINI has ever done. So it’s very hard for them to better such a good design. I think that if they would just focus on simple clean shapes, a little more geometric, they would get a totally different reaction from people. instead they are going with headlights that seem to be inset in the hood like the 500. The rear tail lights are too big making the car look like a clown car. I also agree with many of the previous posts the dimensions of the car, the general proportions just seem off and I don’t think the camera lens really makes that much of a difference. For example the side of the hood now flares out into the fender flares. I liked it when it was hood, clean design and then bulging plastic fenders. I think they have to go a bit more retro simple shapes. Think animation! Simple shapes not too many lines 😛

        • But you have to admit that the R5x was the best design MINI has ever done. So it’s very hard for them to better such a good design.

          Oh I definitely disagree with you there. The R56 design, while it has its good points, was more derivative than evolutionary in my opinion. The R55 was always the better looking of the two cars to me. That is, until the Roadster came out, which is the one properly beautiful car in the whole current lineup. I still prefer the lines and the interior of the R53 above all others, but that’s just me. It’s also not a zero-sum game. I really like the R56’s higher belt line, which seems to have carried forward into the F56. I think there’s a lot to like here, and we’ll have a better sense of it very, very soon once real photos emerge.

      • Alexandre

        @agre_pl Could you show the data that back your statement? Have you actually read all comments on all MINI related websites? If yes, how many languages do you speak? Did someone inside MINI tell you they are in crisis mode? Do you know how much revenue “fans” contribute to overall MINI sales?

    • Alexandre

      Very interesting, thoughtful and detailed design critic…

  • AMS

    So does the language of this press release confirm that this new color is actually a new YELLOW and not the new Volcanic Orange?

    • That’s how I’m taking it.

      • AMS

        Cool by me. In most of the photos, it’s a better yellow than orange.

      • Charlie Victor

        I’m liking it as a yellow – and hoping that it appears on the other Oxford-produced models next year!

      • god

        No that is Volcanic Orange. It’s very yellowy.

        • AMS

          Well, if GOD says so…

  • scamper

    While the front overhang is annoying from a purely visual perspective, I’m more concerned about the interior. That, and the fact that BMW has been completely silent on their electric motor strategy, a fact that I refuse to shut up about.

    • The BMW i3 press launch is right around the corner, so while they’re not talking about electric MINIs, BMW is putting an electric car on the road very, very soon. When or if that translates over to something with a MINI badge on it is something we won’t know for a while.

    • Bimmerfile_Michael

      BMW has been talking about their electric strategy for over two years now- Feb of 2010 they told the world of their plans and showed the media behind the scenes that August (we were there).

      The i3 will launch shortly with media drives coming in the near future. They are not hiding anything. MINI is not in the plans currently, they have created an entirely new brand.

      Not sure why you keep bringing this up, it’s not changing. If you want an electric car from the BMW Group, the i3 is it, the i8 will be a plugin hybrid sports car coming next year.

      The focus with MINI is to make it profitable so the brand will remain viable. The platform sharing will allow this.

      The new lights on the F56 are unbelievable in real life and really set the car apart, it looks better than the images have shown.

  • Kurtster

    Well played! I agree with Nathaniel too. Definitely not a leak.

  • ulrichd

    So where did the above pic come from?

    • The event itself was a photo shoot. MINI would, ironically, have to pay the spy photographer if they wanted to use one of the spy photos in the press release. So they used one of their own. For a little more inside baseball, if the photos were from MINI, they would have leaked them to us through the normal channels. Instead, the photos we link to in our other post are from a known spy photographer, Chris Doane. If we wanted to use them, we’d have to pay for them too. We get marketing stuff for free…

  • les

    Well played MINI. Well played.

  • Alexandre

    I’m probably the only one who will say that but this angle already gives us a better idea of the overall shape of the car. Even with all the covers but with the spy photos in mind, I like the proportions of the F56. It seems to be well seated on the road and it looks like the front and the back form a tight/neat package. Disclaimer: I don’t pretend to be a design expert…

  • lawrothegreat

    I suspect there’s a lot of truth in this.

    Camera lenses do distort images, particularly at their upper limits. It is also an unflattering angle and recent spy shots of the car camouflaged suggest good lines, though I’m sure we’re all agreed that we wish the overhang was slightly shorter.

    I saved one of the images and drew on a registration plate, and this made a big difference. It’s funny how the addition of a rectangle can change your perception of something.

    I also know someone who has seen the car in the flesh and I trust their judgement that considering new safety standards, it is relatively we’ll proportioned.

    It isn’t the exterior that worries me, it’s the interior at the moment…..

    • The F56’s exterior and interior may both be controversial, but it’s the interior that is getting me excited. The R53 showed that compact and premium could coexist in one cabin. Although the design took cues from some classic Minis, it was a thoroughly modern interpretation. The R56 didn’t move the bar much and I personally think the materials look cheaper than an R53’s interior. The controls are exceedingly difficult to use, the speedo is not an efficient use of space and in a day and age when cheap compact cars (not even those considered to be premium) are coming with bluetooth, navigation, data connections, heated seats, panoramic roofs, etc even the R56 LCI didn’t really seem to set itself apart design or features-wise. Will the F56’s interior be controversial? Perhaps, but the glimpses of the spy photographs make it look fantastic if you’re willing to be open-minded. The soft-touch materials look like MINI interiors may finally be closer to the standards set by VW, the technology such as standard comfort-access, standard auto-stop/start across more/all markets, LED lighting, heads-up-display and potential active-cruise and accident avoidance tech, if in the final product as has been hinted, will raise the bar in the premium compact segment as the R53 did.

      If you’re worried about square vents and lack of a center speedometer, remember during the decades of production of the classic Mini there were plenty of variants that did not have the speedometer in the center and didn’t always have round vents. These elements are a part of Mini’s heritage as well.

  • Drillslinger

    I don’t really care if it was or wasn’t a marketing stunt (my money’s on no) I’m just anxious to see this MINI in the sheet metal and THEN make up my mind 🙂

    • 04Pure SilverS

      There was a pureness of design with the original R53, a cohesiveness that has been lacking in the following iterations. Most likely reason: design by committee with too generous a portion of focus group feedback thrown in for good measure. My gosh, people aren’t lusting after Rocketman-like headlights for the new MINI – people want the damn Rocketman!!! (Of course, it’s very easy to steer focus group results with narrowly tailored questions.) Then again, I doubt there’s a beer cans-for-tailpipes story with this redesign…

  • Herr26

    You are looking at a typical or the genius of MINI marketing to turn something completely to their advantage whilst illustrating the fun philosophy of the brand.

    I would say every MINI has had the disadvantage of critics the first MINI which we showed as a preview on the eve of the IAA in 1997 was not well regarded , right up until launch in 2001 and beyond the first MINI had its share of critics. Fast forward to 2006 we had exclusive preview drives of the R56 and again we had the its too bulbous , and far from the first MINI. Then we had the Clubman and the Countryman and now the PACEMAN and Yet they sold.

    This car filmed from a roof top is not the perfect angle for the car , there is a sort of flat look by the photographs when in real life it is not as flat but very much helped by the Porsche style faired in and raked headlights. There will not be too long until the unveiling , so I suggest you sit and wait to see the car to judge for yourselves.

    I think you will be surprised .

    • Drillslinger

      Well if you need volunteers for an F56 preview drive let me know, lol.

    • scamper

      I can even wait an extra year or two for the electric model. After that I’ll have to compromise and lease a Fiat 500c for a few years to bridge the gap until BMW electrifies my favorite.

      • scamper


    • Bob Hayhurst

      …I’m not giving up and like the idea of surprise!! Can’t wait for real eyes on and decent photos…

  • Jay

    Haha this is awesome

  • Ike

    Agreed – I really hope they fix those front lights… if not, my R56 has a better resale so….

  • Aurel

    I am willing to bet that the official photos are imminent … i don’t recall seeing next gen photos later than July before.

  • PapaJim

    Well MINI if you are reading these reactions. Then as an owner of now 3 MINIs a R53, and 2 R56 ‘S’ and non ‘S’. The grill needs to be reworked and the tail lights need to be reworked as well. This will make the resale value of my current MINIs much higher as the demand for a good looking MINI will go up.

  • Jerry

    MINI can be as clever as they want–its still ugly.

  • Evan

    Very fun, cheeky response. Very MINI.

    I have to reserve judgement until driving it and seeing it in the flesh. The truth is, even as a diehard R50/53 fan, MINI couldn’t build them forever as technology, aerodynamics, ergonomics, and safety/emissions regulations advance. The R56 is a fine car- we know where it excels (powertrain, quieter) and where it wasn’t quite as engaging as the R50/53 (forced interior styling and direct steering feel). However, now it’s time for another updated MINI. It’s survival will be bolstered by sharing a BMW Group wide platform and the technologies associated with that. It will be better in many ways for it and hopefully not lose anything that has made MINI, well, MINI.

    I’ll need a new car, can’t buy a new R50/53 anymore and have not been enamored with the current R56 (although the R55 does wear the proportions well and is quirky and fun in a very MINI way…). So, here’s to hoping the F56 hits the nail on the head, the ball out of the park, and drives/steers well. Seems like we’re so close to the official pics and first drives the anticipation has everyone ready….

  • Rikki Loades

    I really hope you can get rid of the extra black bumper that goes right across the grill. It really damages the front on aesthetic in my opinion.

    A side perspective shows how it cleans lines up.

    Fron the fron perspective though, it just looks like an afterthought. Its not color coded or blended with the bumper.

    Personally that whole area being grilled, much like the rocketman, would look great.