The radical MINI Urbanaut concept is being considered for production according to MINI head of Design Oliver Heilmer. As first reported on Autocar, the brand is looking at the feasibility of such a radical concept from a production and engineering standpoint. If green-lit, the concept would likely be at least 5 years away from reality.
“As you can imagine, it’s a long process. It’s a different platform [to any current Mini], and from a technical point of view it’s a challenge as it has things like steer by wire that’s not in production yet. But we’ll never give up on it.”Oliver Heilmer.
The MINI Urbanaut is both a radical step for the brand as one that fits neatly into the original ethos of the classic Mini. Small on the outside (4.5 meters long) but with massive space on the inside, the Urbanaut is designed to appeal to young families looking for more space and flexibility. It’s also the anti-SUV in as world full of them.
The Urbanaut gives us glimpses of the front of the next generation MINI (at a high-level mind you) and an early look at a much simplified design language we’ll be seeing.
That design language has its origins in the 1959 Mini. More specifically the simplicity and minimalism we see here was inspired by the brand’s past. To us it feels both more modern and inline with where the brand started over 60 years ago.
MINI sees trends and data pointing to the potential resurgence of MPVs (as their called in Europe) having a comeback towards the end of the decade. And while the concept of a MINI MPV hasn’t been officially approved, it was an idea the design team wanted to explore as a way to test new ideas and stretch the MINI design DNA.
But Oliver Heilmer was quick to point out that the Urbanaut is dramatically different than the classic MPV. He wanted to create something that was entirely variable depending on the situation and environment. A concept that could seamlessly blend into the owners life far more than a car (which is parked the majority of the time) could ever integrate.
This is a room concept so it’s dramatically different from that. We’re talking about a multi-functional Swiss knife with the Urbanaut. You’re able to use it in different moments and transform it. So the approach is entirely different.Oliver Heilmer
Head of MINI Design
But it’s hard to get past how uncool the MPV or classic minivan has become in most corners of the world. To that, MINI’s head Bernd Koerber had a very straightforward answer; “We won’t make a practical MPV if it’s not cool.” And he expects to see more concepts like this from other brands in the near future – which could in itself start to sway public towards the idea.