The first photos of the next generation MINI Cooper (with an internal combustion engine) are here and they expose an inportant fact about this new MINI we reported on a few weeks back. A couple weeks ago we detailed the new petrol powered next generation MINI Cooper and how it is not one but two next generation models that MINI is banking on taking the brand to 2030. However the secret is that this next generation ICE MINI is not a all new car at all.
There will be two next generation MINI hatches: one all new electric hatch built in China and another heavily based on the F56 built in Oxford. Sound bizarre? The electric revolution that’s happening in the industry is leading to this radical approach. In simple terms MINI needs to build multiple versions of the same car to address different markets. And instead of building two all new MINIs, they’ve decided to build an all new electric MINI on a dedicated platform and heavily modify the F56. And that next generation F56 is what showed up for the first time on roads around Munich.
The photos? We don’t own them so we can’t reproduce them. But they don’t show much of anything other than an F56 in yellow camo. Given that what was spied was a Cooper the two obvious additions that can be identified are new 15” wheels and new sensors built into the grille below the MINI badge. At the highest level it’s exactly what we thought it would be when we reported on it previously. A revised front with a slightly smaller overhang (very slightly), new lights, new wheels and no changes to the rear.
Inside it’s difficult to tell but we’d expect MINI to attempt to match the revolutionary interior of the new 2024 all electric MINI we showed you earlier this week.
The Heavily Revised 2024 F56 MINI Hatch
This heavily revised the F56 will have a new chassis designation and be sold as a new MINI hatch. But before the pitchforks come out, this may be the best news possible for a number of you. For one this won’t be what we would typically call a refresh. Second this will allow MINI to continue to offer petrol power with a manual transmission in a package that is tried and tested.
How much of a refresh? Most don’t realize that the 2007 R56 was a major refresh of the previous generation R50/R53 chassis. Will we see similar radical refresh of the F56? Likely not for two reasons. MINI is intending to keep the current engine line-up and refine them to meet tightening emissions standards. So no new engines but likely different tunes. MINI also doesn’t need to fix any significant issues like they did on the R50 which was never engineered to BMW quality standards. Based on this we believe that the changes we’ll see on this refresh/next generation F56 will be focused on design and technology with important tweaks to performance.
Outside expect revised front-end that slightly (very slightly) shortens the front overhang. More obviously MINI will be revising the lighting upfront to mimic some of the new all electric MINI’s look. Around back there will be very little change.
We also expect MINI to update the technology relating to accident avoidance and more sophisticated radar cruise control. That means we could see L2 autonomy which could allow the new hatch to see the road and follow it around corners much like some BMWs can.
We also wouldn’t be surprised to see the four door hatch revised more heavily making the rear a bit more like the current Clubman. While it’s just a guess we do know that MINI intends increase the size of the Countryman and likely kill the Clubman altogether. That could make room for the four door hatch to increase in size by simply squaring off the rear and creating a more Clubman-esque look.
2025 MINI Hatch – Engine Updates
The petrol powered range will use an evolution of the current B48 engine range with mild-hybrid added to decrease CO2 and add performance. As we detailed in our recent preview of the next generation MINI Countryman, every petrol powered engine is a revision of an existing one. So things will look familiar but we believe numbers might rise slightly. The 1.5 three cylinder could use a more powerful BMW tune that would see it rise to 137 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. Then there’s a series of 2.0 four cylinder that could also use various BMW tunes; 170 hp and 206 ft-lbs and 218 hp and 265 ft-lbs. rumors point to the JCW output remaining the same and continuing to offer a manual as standard.
Most petrol engines will get a 48 volt mild hybrid system and will be mated to a revised 7-speed dual clutch with an all new gear selector design. The manual transmission’s days may be numbered but we believe it will stick around in a couple trim levels on the new F56 through the end of the decade.
One thing that has become clear is that MINI has no plans for a plug-in hybrid for it’s smaller range of cars. While there’s mild hybrid capabilities coming, that’s minor added functionality mainly focused on smoothing out auto stop-start and reducing CO2 output in specific moments of operation.
The 2025 MINI Hatch – When Will It Be Released and Will it be Any Good?
The all electric and all new MINI hatch will arrive in 2023 from what we’re hearing. We would expect MINI would want to separate the launch of that car and this heavily revised ICE MINI hatch. Given that the F56 hatch was just refreshed a year ago, we’d expect MINI would want to allow the current car to be on sale unchanged for at least two model years. That logic would lead us to believe we’ll see this heavily revised MINI hatch (call it the next generation if you want) around the second half of 2023 as a 2024 model.
The next question is, should you wait to buy one? As much as MINI is leaning into electrification, this revised MINI hatch will be a very important car for several key markets – notably the US. Because of that we expect that MINI would want to go out with a bang as this will be it’s last petrol powered, manual transmission small car ever made. Crucially it will also be heavily iterated and honed over its decade on the market. Those ingredients give us hope that this might be a rather special send-off for the ICE powered MINI.