For fans of the MINI brand this is big. Well, actually it’s both big and small. MINI is giving us its first official look at the brand’s next design language and in doing so an early look the next generation MINI. Or more specifically a preview of the all new (and smaller) electric hatch and electric MINI Countryman. 

Oliver Heilmer has been adamant since he became head of MINI design that the brand must not forget its roots as it looks to the future. What that means fully is still unknown. But thanks to this video, a few images and the recent leak we scooped last year, we have a pretty good idea what that means. In simple terms it means MINI is done with the bulbous, retro-futuristic theme that the brand has been relying on since the original R50 design penned by Frank Stephenson.

Sound alarming? For some it might. We’ve long held that the original R50 continues to be the most successful design since the original Mini. But MINI believes its time for a new, more modern approach that moves the brand forward informed by the past. 

The centerpiece of this will be the new all-electric hatch. Originally designed to be produced and sold only in China, the car is now going to be a global model and the tip of the spear for the brand’s electric revolution. But these changes will also be seen in the new Countryman (which will come in both electric and petrol versions) and a heavily revised petrol and diesel F56 hatch. 

MINI’s New Design Language is also moving from physical to digital with the insertion of a large circular screen and LEDs inside and out. But the devil’s in the details and seeing, using and driving will be believing. And that’s if the new electric hatch makes it the US. 

But this new look and this new tech will filter throughout the entire range transforming the brand in the span of just a few years. 

Read on for MINI’s full press release on this change. 

A preview of a MINI concept (coming later this year) that will foreshadow the next Countryman

Official Release: MINI’s New Design Language and a Early Look at the New MINI Line-up

The distinctive styling is also taking a huge leap forwards with the fully electric next model generation of the British premium brand. Reduction without compromise, digitalisation creating an intensive user experience, sustainability running through the MINI DNA, maximum emotion with minimum footprint.

Electric, digital, sustainable and distinctive: the new generation of MINI models brings the brand’s driving pleasure, user experience and responsible attitude into a completely new era. Its forward-looking design language makes this transformation instantly visible. It melds the brand’s traditional values with state-of-the-art technology and acknowledges the elementary principles of vehicle design as well as the urban character of the MINI and its community’s innovative spirit. The principle behind Charismatic Simplicity is a design that helps each new MINI model develop a strong individual character of its own, intuitively focussing on the essence of the brand with a clear, reduced design language. Another central factor of the new design language is its choice of materials with a keen eye on sustainability. The next MINI model generation has a leather-free interior and dispenses almost entirely with chrome elements.

The MINI models of the future bring together a modern and purist exterior and an interior design that focuses on the essentials. This reflects the principle of creative use of space that the classic MINI is already renowned for. The new design language also exploits the opportunity of electrifying the powertrain to generate the driving pleasure you expect from MINI entirely without local emissions. “Purely electrically powered models from MINI give us a unique opportunity to rethink our design. At the same time, we retain the attention to detail, sense of tradition and passion for innovation that MINI is renowned for,” says Oliver Heilmer, Head of MINI Design.

New design elements that preview the next generation steering wheel

The vehicle architecture for the new MINI model generation has been developed for purely electric mobility right from the outset. Every inch of the available installation space is used even more efficiently for the comfort, well-being, emotional experience and driving pleasure of the occupants. This means that every MINI model, whatever its exterior dimensions, will continue to offer the ideal combination of a small footprint and available interior space in the future.

The core of the brand will also be embedded in the future model generation of the MINI 3-door – purely electric and consistently geared towards urban driving pleasure. The successor to the current MINI Countryman will also be hitting the road with a purely electric drive. MINI will soon also be presenting the concept study of a – fully electrically powered – crossover model for the premium small-car segment. “The MINI Design DNA will clearly come through in every model of this new generation, leaving its brand affiliation in no doubt whatsoever,” announces Oliver Heilmer. “At the same time, the MINI design team has successfully created strong product features with individual accents that more than ever before underscore a sense of independence.”

This is likely the new display sitting in the revised F56 interior

Creation of independent vehicle personalities is one of the central features of the new design language. Charismatic Simplicity gives each member of the future MINI model family its own individual charisma that is unmistakably based on the brand’s core, reinterpreting it confidently and in its own way. The authentic reference to the essential values of MINI is expressed in a very modern design language featuring clearly and cleanly modelled surfaces. Charismatic Simplicity reduces the number of components and concentrates on essential elements, helping the design of future MINI models achieve an emotional, intuitively perceptible identity.

“We combine the core of the MINI DNA with innovative, aesthetic and technological inspiration in our new design language,” says Oliver Heilmer. “This means that every new MINI remains a genuine and at the same time future-proof original.” For example, innovative LED technology gives the typical Union Jack design of the MINI combination rear lamps a variety of forms, creating an individual light signature for each model.

Could a small version be MINI’s new key fob?

The combination of tradition and progress creates an immersive user experience in the interiors of future MINI models, further intensifying the traditionally strong connection between person and car at MINI. “MINI is an urban brand, every facet of whose design helps to make life in the city as enjoyable and eventful as possible,” explains Oliver Heilmer. The key to this is both in advanced digitalisation in operation and connectivity, and in a clearly designed interior with intuitive functionality.

In the cockpit of future MINI models, too, reduction does not mean having to do without. The OLED technology for the fully digital display and control unit presented for the first time in the MINI Vision Urbanaut means significantly more functions can be combined in a single control unit. This is presented in the archetypal MINI circular central instrument in the middle of the dashboard. MINI is the world’s first car manufacturer to offer a touch display with a fully usable round surface. The innovative display technology paves the way for a new user interface design. At the same time, the MINI design retains analogue control units such as the toggle switches below the central interface. These embody the attention to detail and distinctive design features that transform intuitive functionality into an emotional experience.

The new MINI hatch exterior lights.

“The future of MINI design is based on the courage and determination to shape change and stamp a distinctive and inimitable profile on the brand,” says Oliver Heilmer. This also includes a range of materials with a relentless focus on sustainability. The new MINI model generation will move completely away from leather surfaces and also reduce its use of chrome components to almost zero. A fundamental attitude shaped by a sense of responsibility and a focus on the future is expressed through electrification, resource-conserving production, exacting environmental standards and a progressively increasing share of secondary raw materials as well as natural and recycled materials. A minimal ecological footprint is deeply anchored in the brand’s tradition and is incorporated more comprehensively than ever by MINI Design into the new model generation.

The concept study of a crossover model from the new, fully electric MINI generation will provide the first full preview of the new design language for the next-generation all-electric model family and will be presented to the public for the first time at the end of July 2022. With it, MINI Design showcases how technological innovations and a progressive interpretation of individual mobility are taking the brand’s design language far into the future with this concept car.