We’ve had these photos sent to us several times over the last few days and are still trying to figure out what they actually show. We know that MINI will be introducing the refreshed R56 and R55 either late this year or early next. And as we reported well over a year ago there will be some subtle changes to the front and rear facia, lighting and interior design. However we’re not entirely convinced that these photos show any of that. In fact after looking at them extensively it would appear that they both simply have the factor aero-kit (the one most MINI fans love to hate) and nothing that indicates a refresh.
Instead what we think these cars may be are testing mules for drivetrain updates related to the mid-life cycle refresh. We know that MINI will be updating the engine output slightly for all models (similar to what they did for the 2005 model year with the previous generation cars) so it would make sense for them to be doing some extensive testing around that right now considering the cars may launch late this year or early next. And the black bonnet on the R56 and the the slightly raised bonnet on the R55 would indicate that something is happening under there.
We should know much more soon.
+ Mini working on the Cooper and Clubman facelift / Globalmotors
+ MINI’ Mid Life-Cycle Refresh / MotoringFile