Open Sourcing a Redesign of the F56

While most seem to like the new MINI’s design, there have been a vocal minority who haven’t gelled with it. By far the biggest complaint that we’ve heard about the new MINI Cooper S is its protruding lower chin. It’s a design element that’s meant to give the car a more aggressive look and harken to the aggressive air inlets of rally and race cars. However it’s safe to say that not everyone sees that in the execution – especially with chrome trim added or in lighter colors. But there may be an answer that doesn’t involve simply buying a Cooper (which doesn’t have the “chin).


As you can see in the above image, the chin is actually a separate piece from the larger bumper. Conceivably this would allow for a replacement for the chin that’s less protruding and likely more classic in look.

Could this be an opportunity for the MINI aftermarket? We think so. But the big question is how should it look? Let us know the answer in the comments below. And perhaps, just

but tell us what you think in the comments below.

  • Gary

    I guess by the “vocal minority” you’re referring to the majority of prior-gen MINI owners. The biggest complaint I’ve seen and heard, repeated time and time again, is not the lower chin but the front overhang. A re-design of the chin can’t hurt, but the rest of the front end assembly is still going to be just as far out in front of the transaxle.

    • Chuck Jr.

      If I remember correctly, there was a picture of Gabe from an Auto Show couple of years ago holding his hands in parallel next to the front end of an Audi to make fun of the overhang. Would love to see the same shot with the F56.

      • Gabe and I talked about that at the Chicago Auto Show this year, although we didn’t take a new photo. The overhangs on the VWs are still enormous. While the overhang on the F56 has grown, it’s barely more than the R56, which was barely more than the R53. Vehicles from VW, Ford, Honda, Toyota and others have massive overhangs by comparison, because they don’t care about that detail, and I imagine, because it’s easier to pass crash tests with longer noses. The grill shape and other details on the nose of the F56 make it look more forward than it really is. Is it as flat as the R53? No, but we all knew that was going to happen. What’s more important than the visual hangover, I think, is where the center of mass actually is. On the F56, the wheels are still well to the corners in terms of the heavy parts of the car. The front’s been cheated a couple inches for pedestrian crash standards, and the rear has been cheated a couple inches to give it a far more usable amount of boot space. Fundamentally though, the proportions are still pretty much the same. Especially when you see the car in person.

        • Dr. Suess

          Well…..I say I say My front overhang is barely more than the year before and just a tiny bit more than the year before the year before. Even though I say my proportions are just as they were once before… my belt just doesn’t fit no more.

      • Audi and most VW products have their engines so far forward that a larger front overhang is required. MINI’s is dictated not by engineering as much as simply for pedestrian impact standards.

    • Mark

      Prior gen owner here who can’t wait for my F56 to get here. Yes, the front end is different, but it was time for a change. While I think many of us early adopters want to think the design we bought into was timeless, how long can a company risk waiting before it’s previous designs become stagnant?

      While I can understand what people say about the new design, I look at it and see a more aggressive take on the previous design, but not the huge departure that so many are making it out to be. If it’s hugely offensive to someone…. move on, lots of great cars out there. That said, I think this version of the car will easily outsell all that came before it. Its stock form is better in so many ways to previous versions that I can’t wait to see the possibilities as more tunes and aftermarket tweaks become available.

      • Chris

        My complaint isn’t so much that the new front is a change, but rather that it’s ugly in its own right. Same with the taillights.

        Front end-wise, I think part of the problem is that it’s not ENOUGH of a departure… It’s clear they tried to borrow from the Rocketman concept, but it seems they tried to blend that with the R56 front styling and the whole thing just fails miserably. This is all the more irritating because the MINI Vision concept was a much more cohesive and attractive design, proving they have people in house who could have done better.

        All the more strangely it seems like the design of the upcoming Clubman is very similar to the Vision concept. Unfortunate that the Clubman will be wider and no longer shares front end sheet metal with the hatch so there’s no chance of fitting the better looking front end to a hatch.

  • Joe

    My idea. Remove everything from the front bumper. Start fresh. Upper grill in full mesh and integrated rally lights like the mini Superleggera. Lower bumper is a refreshed R56 JCW bumper. Thoughts?

  • writewright

    What about the ugly oversized tail lights. While she’s under the knife you mind as well get it right everywhere.

    • Chilly

      Those tail lights would look much better if they included an orange/amber indicator. That would be an easy fix.

      • BudD

        In my opinion it is not a matter of color. It is a matter of size that makes them look out of proportion. The entire car design is coarse and unrefined. Most will agree that the R53 hit the bullseye in terms of correct scale and well executed visual nuances.

        • Personally I’ll agree to disagree. I think the R50 far outshines the R53 for example. And the F56 is such a different animal (and scale) than the R53 it’s hard to compare them as equals from a design standpoint. The problems the design team were solving in the R53 were about 1/100th of the problems they were solving in the F56.

  • alessandrop80

    I think it’s a bad design if people are thinking of changing the rear lights, bumper, fake hood scoop even before they have bought the car… Too little too late. R53 best design for any new Mini. Simple classic essential. They need to go back to that simplicity.


    Instead of thinking about changing the entire front end of the F56 S (which is not going to happen anytime through the 2015 model), choosing a darker color can minimize the lower lip protrusion. That’s my plan later this fall when I order the new F55 S 4 door hatch. Will go for the Thunder Gray/black roof ‘without’ any added chrome. May even look to black-out of most all chrome just as I did on my current ’12 JCW Coupe! Its name will be the Gray Ghost!


    A “vocal minority” is an understatement. There is nothing wrong with “form follows function”. Yes, you do need to provide fresh air to the engine/radiator, the intercooler and the brakes. A good designer should take this into account and come up with functional as well as beautiful, cohesive solutions. But when you start adding chrome plated nostrils, oversized odd-shape bumpers with the idea that you’re creating “a more aggressive look with the air inlets of rally and race cars..” you end up with a busy, sloppy, messy front end. These are styling fads, surface decoration at it’s worse and they don’t fool anybody. Just look at the front end of the new Corvette or an Aston Martin. These cars have massive engines and brakes the generate three times as much heat. Yet air is carefully funneled through simple forms in the grill and below that maintain a classy functional balance. There really is no excuse for mediocre design.

  • Iain Brown

    The F56 looks much better in person than in print/Interwebs. I agree that the growth of the front of the car does look “odd” in some light, but overall not as bad in person.

    The chin… Meh. Nix the chrome accents and it ties in much better.


    Said Motor Trend senior features editor Jonny Lieberman, “The front looks like it’s trying to spit out a mouthpiece.”

  • BulldogOrBust

    Looking forward to the first aftermarket option to reduce the front overhang back to R56 proportions…

  • KPP

    I agree that the lower protruding chin is the single worst part of the exterior design of the F56 Cooper S and the upcoming JCW. Aside from how bad and tacked on those bits look, the busyness and complexity of the front end take away any cohesiveness in the design. There are too many competing lines, shapes, creases and vents. The design team went frickin vent happy, especially with the JCW. The front grill, for example, should do away with the cheesy S logo, the chrome line splitting it in two and the gloss black bumper bar. There has to be a way to get rid of the mouthguard without compromising the EU pedestrian impact standards. Otherwise, the general shape of the grill is cool and harkens back to the classic Mini and the Rocketman. I totally understand the need for the lengthier overhang but they could have done a much better job making the front look good despite the increase.

    Finally, what is with those funnily shaped indentations connecting the fog lamps to the lower chin on the S? I don’t get why those are needed and why they are such a complex and stupid shape.

    I’m afraid that the design of the front end, as it stands, is not timeless. They need to go back to clean and simple lines that add elegance, not gaudy additions that add flashiness. I agree with Joe that a mesh front grill and a refreshed R56 JCW fascia with no protrusions would be a good place to start. The rest of the car looks good to me.

  • b-

    Here is the problem, someone makes an aftermarket part and the public complains about how expensive the part is. Most MINI owners have no idea what it takes to design/manufacture a piece and if you want quality you pay for it. My dad has a C5 Corvette and I got him a front splitter and side skirts for the car, they were $800 un-painted but you know what, they were PERFECT! The quality was amazing and they fit without any work at all. We painted them and installed them and they look great. Good parts cost good money.

  • Champ198

    If BMW engineers that designed the F56 were forced to wash the car to get the road grime and bugs out of all the stylized nooks and crannies on the F56 nose, they would redesign it with smoother, flowing R56-style lines. Also, the softer appearance and long nose of the F56 truly reflects its neutered handling characteristics. Having a new, more powerful 2.0 liter engine doesn’t overcome the fact that the F56 rolls like a Dodge Minivan going into curves. BMW even took away the obvious negative camber on the rear wheels as compared to the R56. Let’s be honest, the F56 is not very inspiring, it’s less go-kartier, less fun, and “more normal” than any prior MINI despite the MINI marketing machine saying otherwise. On a positive note, the new bells and whistles and BMW gadgetry, as well as, the smooth, Buick-like ride will help take one’s mind off losing the go-kart handling and that awful looking front end.

  • lavardera

    That part diagram is from the JCW body kit. Is it a separate piece like that on the S? Would you really need a third party part – why not just fit the front kit from the Cooper? Does it not accommodate the brake ducts?

    I dislike this detail as well, but it started with the refresh on the R56 S. Its not like we did not see it coming.

  • Joe
    • jbkone

      Now THAT is a smooth looking front end! AND I like the WHOLE CIRCLE daytime running lights instead of the “omegas” (yuck).

    • dr


      • Hemisedan

        I just looked at that rendering and I have to agree, that front end is much simpler, and like someone else said, make one of the design engineers wash the bugs off the car just once, they’ll change a few things. My JCW roadster is bad enough for bugs, but this new design…..well enough said.

  • Wretch

    Sincerely looking forward to seeing a LCI for the F56. Keep up the noise! 🙂

  • DavidB

    Or just buy another car that you don’t have to modify to look half decent – as the general (non MINI fan) public will..

  • LondonCynic

    I swapped my old Mini Convertible for a Golf R Convertible about two weeks after seeing the enormous nose of the F57 Cooper S. Maybe next time they will fix it. As a city dweller, if I have to have such a large car, I want the corresponding interior and luggage space too – not useless ugly overhang. The Golf has worked without fault for five months too – which is much longer than my Mini ever ran without a trip to the dealership.

  • jbkone

    The later ones, the chin is integrated into the bumper – not a separate part. 🙁