In a fairly big about face, we’re now hearing that MINI is exploring new body styles for future models. Perhaps even more interesting, MINI also intends on being more bold with future designs and will even be working to reduce that massive front overhang.
The news comes directly from the brand’s new design director Oliver Heilmer who sat down with Autocar for a brief interview this week.
Currently on his plate is MINI’s first mass market elelctric car which is currently in the process of finished. The F56 based electric MINI hatch which will include some distinctive color treatments and wheels but will retain most of the F56 look.
After that Heilmer’s team will shift to the next generation MINI where quite a lot is on the table. The team intends to investigate new models beyond the five so-called ‘superheroes’ that make-up today’s range. The first of those cars should come to market around 2021 in the form of the iconic MINI hatch. What follows that could be totally up in the air.
According to Autocar, Heilmer believes it is vital to explore other options: “I’m not saying it’s wrong, but it’s good to ask if it’s going to last.”
Interestingly Heilmer was on the team (along with Frank Stephenson) that helped produce the virtual body variations displayed at several MINI press events over the years. For this exploration, Heilmer plans to use the same thought process that created the original 1959 Mini.
“The first Mini was built out of a need. I would like to understand what the needs in the next five to six years will be. We want to look at customers who are 13, 14, 15 years old now. What is their aesthetic approach? It’s obviously influenced by smartphones. But if we understand it right, we can bring this into the future.”
According to the interview Heilmer doesn’t plan to abandon Mini’s distinctive design features, such as the floating roof and wheel-at each-corner stance. Although he agrees these can be “limiting and challenging”, he said: “I love to deal with that challenge. You need to be experimental but can’t lose what it is.”
What of that front overhang? Apparently Heilmer is no fan and will try to reduce it as much as possible.
In the eater term his team is finalizing the F56 based MINI electric hatch and making adjustments to the aerodynamic sills and air curtains seen on the concept. “We’ve got to see if it works. It doesn’t work on all cars,” he added.
While he wouldn’t admit that the GP has been approved (our sources say it has) he did mention that the GP runs a much wider track than a stock MINI and that they’re testing the fertile vane wing extensions to see how realistic they are.
So to some it up a fresh approach to MINI design (with new body styles), less of a front overhang and a GP that could be almost as aggressive as the concept. MINI’s new design boss sounds like our kind of guy.
What do you think? What body styles would you like MINI to explore? Which if any could the brand afford to lose? Let us know below.