The current issue of Autocar has an article on the next MINI (aka the R56) that does a good job of summing up what has been reported on MotoringFile and the press for the past couple of years. Here's an excerpt:
Not content with the success of the three-year-old Mini, BMW is busy developing its successor. Project R56 will sire up to four Mini models; the first will go on sale in little more than two years.
First up in September 2006 is the replacement for today’s three-door hatch (shown above in our artist’s impression). In March 2007 a five-door hatchback will arrive offering more interior space and at last usable rear seats, thanks to a wheelbase that is 120mm longer.
A new convertible to replace the just launched soft-top will arrive in April 2008; an estate variant not unlike the Mini Wagons exhibited by Castagna at this year's Geneva show is awaiting approval from BMW chairman Helmut Panke. In early sketches it harks back to the original Mini estate, with van-style rear doors.
There’s little wrong with the current Mini’s styling, so the design strategy is ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’. The retro look continues, with a classic BMW soft facelift and only detail changes.
However, Munich is planning to stem the high production costs of today’s Oxfordshire-built Mini. BMW will outsource more modules (component sets such as front suspension) and plans a clip-on plastic roof cover so owners can change roof decals throughout the life of the car. Cunningly, it also means cars won’t have to pass through the paint shop twice an expensive and time-consuming process.
By the way, I wouldn't put too much stock in the rendering above – from what I hear it'll be closer to the current car – but hey… at least they're trying!
One of the biggest changes that will be introduced with the next generation will be a new engine throughout the petrol range. As has been reported on MotoringFile for well over a year the next generation MINI will house a new powerplant engineered and design by BMW and PSA (Peugeot/Citroen) that will be lighter, more effcient, yet capable of increased power. It will also rely on a turbocharger in place of the current supercharger for the MCS. You can find out more in these previous MotoringFile articles.
And of course you can read the entire article above at Autocar.co.uk: [LINK]
Again most of this is old hat to veteran MotoringFile readers but it may be new to some of those new to the MINI world.
Photo courtesy of Autocar.