Reader John Schoettler gives us a brief synopsis on an article in the March issue of Motor Trend detailing the next MINI:

In the new March issue Motor Trend magazine it states the following on page 20:

“Design chief Gert Hildebrand regards these design cues as sacred: bug-eye headlamps, grille shape, clamshell hood with a central bulge. Headlamps fixed to fenders rather than integrated in hood to cut costs”

In the article it also stated the next-gen Mini will start production in late 06 as a 2007 model and an AWD version will come out a few years later and JCW is planning on getting the new engine up to 230HP. The article also stated that 4-door hatch will come out a year later while a next-gen convertible will be about 2 years later. The rear multilink suspension will also be simplified to allow for more wheel travel which will help create more rear seat space and will also make the ride smoother..

MotoringFile analysis: There’s really nothing new in this information we haven’t read or seen in photos before. However it’s nice to some confirmation mentioned by Mr. Hildebrand on a couple of items. Those that are convinced the next generation MINI will be less of a drivers car than the current MINI certainly will have some concerns based on the article. The idea of a “simplified” suspension can’t sit well with some. And any emphasis on a smoother ride certainly won’t win over the hardcore enthusiasts. But that being said I would imagine that the sportier versions of the MINI (the MCS and possibly a higher-end Cooper) will retain the same driving attributes we’ve all come to love. And you can add to that an engine that will be much more capable and a chassis that seemingly could accommodate AWD rather easily and you have something pretty special.

I would also expect to see a MINI concept car rolled out sometime during next year’s auto show circuit, possibly even in the form of a clubman 4 door. As is usually the case BMW likes to bring out concepts a year ahead of production that are thinly veiled versions of the final car. And as any MotoringFile reader will know BMW has been testing the waters and dropping hints about a 4 door MINI for quite some time.