The J05 MINI Aceman is the brand’s next generation crossover designed and built from the ground up as a full electric car and now it’s been seen testing in Europe for the first time. Previewed in the form a concept earlier this year, it’s a smaller crossover than the current Countryman (it’s actually similar in length to the original R60) yet it has as much interior volume due to the smaller electric drivetrain. Sound perfect? It might be if it wasn’t for one glaring issue.

Before we touch on the elephant in the room for the Aceman, let’s talk about what we see above. Unsurprisingly the MINI Aceman will forgo some of the more outlandish aspects of the concept while maintaining that minimal design language MINI has been forecasting. The proportions look promising with short overhangs and an overall shape that looks far more athletic than any of the first two generations of the Countryman.

How does it slots into the MINI line-up? In MINI’s words this is a crossover version of the iconic MINI three door hatch. In our words the Aceman will bridge the gap from the new electric (J01) MINI hatch and the forthcoming (larger) 2024 MINI Countryman. What that means is that the MINI Aceman is almost the same size as the original R60 MINI Countryman at 4.05 meters in length, 1.99 in width and 1.59 in height while retaining a more point and shoot driving experience that lower weight distortion of the electric platform promises.

Since it’s all electric, it uses design geometry that reduces the overhangs and maximizes the interior volume. You can clearly see this in the images inside and out. And to us that’s one of the more exciting aspects of this new direction for MINI.

The MINI Aceman concept – a lightly disguised version of the final car.

The MINI Aceman Interior Revolution

Recently MINI told us that the brand is “working up fresh ideas on the design of urban mobility in the future and the User Experience associated with the use of the display and control system of MINI makes a major contribution to the driving fun so typical of the brand.” We can begin to get a sense of that with this concept and the unveiling of that circular OLED display and the textile dash with a built-in screen.

“In the interior of the MINI Concept Aceman, we focus on a reduced appearance combined with high-quality materials and friendly colors. Digitalization allows us to get along with a minimal operating concept and at the same time maximize the experience in a typical MINI way. The entire design is completely geared towards providing occupants with a holistic experience in the interior.”

Oliver Heilmer, Head of MINI Design

The Big Issue with the MINI Aceman

The MINI Aceman, along with the all new electric MINI hatch will initially be made only in China. The fact that it’s made in China doesn’t bother us as the time when Chinese cars meant poor quality is long passed. No the issue are the US based tariff’s which will likely keep the Paceman from the US market – at least initially. Geo-politics aside, those tariff’s will make it uniquely difficult for MINI USA to bring the Paceman to the market given its razor-thin margins.

And then there’s also the issue of the forthcoming electric MINI Countryman. The next generation Countryman has been designed from the ground up to better appeal to North American tastes. As we’ve reported previously it will be both larger or more rugged in its overall design.

According to sources MINI USA deems the Aceman too small for the US market given how close the cost would be after tariffs are factored in to the forthcoming larger Countryman. 

To us that’s a massive shame given how progressive this crossover looks to be. We also love the size which feels like a grown-up four door hatch to us. There still could be a chance as rumors point to MINI bringing the J01 electric MINI Cooper to the UK for production later this decade. We could imagine the Paceman following suit as well.

The MINI Aceman – The Future Of MINI Design

Sharper, more angular and less retro-futuristic. Those are the themes that we see in the concept and now the initial spy photos. But the biggest theme here is reduction – something Oliver Heimler, Head of MINI Design, has been forecasting for years. We see it especially in the interior where MINI is harkening back to the original 1959 car.

Outside MINI is creating a more angular design that will leverage lightning personalization in new ways. For instance you’ll be able to program the rear LEDs to have a Union Jack design or something a bit more modern.


The Next Generation MINI Family

The Aceman is the first of many vehicle debuts we’ll see over the next 18 months as MINI prepared to launch it’s new generation. But not all will be entirely new.

What we’ve been focused on with the Aceman is the entirely new, all electric MINI platform which will be built in collaboration with Great Wall Motors in China. But there’s another, petrol powered hatch coming which might be just as, if not more important for the MINI fans. MINI intends to heavily revise the UK made F56, give it a new chassis designation and sell it as a new MINI hatch. It will be MINI’s last ICE (internal combustion engine) powered car and will be critical to the US market as it’s still unclear of any of the Chinese made electric MINIs will make it to the US.

G56 / Oxford, EnglandU25 / Leipzig, GermanyJ01 / China (GWM)
G56 ICE Cooper 3 doorU25 ICE CountrymanJ01 EV Cooper 3 Door
G56 ICE Cooper S 3 doorU25 ICE Countryman SJ01 EV Cooper S 3 Door
G56 ICE Cooper JCW 3 doorU25 ICE Countryman JCWJ01 EV Cooper JCW 3 Door
G55 ICE Cooper 5 doorU25 EV CountrymanJ02 EV Aceman
G55 ICE Cooper S 5 doorU25 EV Countryman SJ02 EV Aceman S
G57 ICE Cooper ConvertibleU25 EV Countryman JCW*J02 EV Aceman JCW*
G57 ICE Cooper S Convertible
G57 ICE JCW Convertible
4Th Generation MINI Model Line-Up (2024) * Unconfirmed by our sources

Timing is in flux at the moment given the supply chain challenges. However we believe we’ll see the J01 Cooper debut in late 2023 potentially with the G56 Cooper. Sales will likely commence in 2024. U25 Countryman will likely debut shortly afterwards with sales beginning in 2024. The J01 MINI Aceman should follow shortly after in 2024.

MINI Aceman Photo Gallery