A few weeks ago we brought you are first look at the next generation F66 MINI Cooper. The F66 is a substantial refresh of the F56 and will be MINI’s last internal combustion car when it launches in 2024. As you can see in these photos, it’s been designed mimic the look of the all new J01 electric MINI Cooper. The idea it to create the semblance of one model offering two distinctly different drivetrains. However under the skin that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Design of the 2024 F66 MINI Cooper
We know that the F66 will be MINI’s last family of ICE (internal combustion engine) cars along with the last MINI offered with a manual. But these new photos show us much more. Below you can clearly see that MINI has retained the overall shape of the F56 but refined details including slightly reducing the front overhang. We’ve heard for years the brand had been toying with new crash materials that could pass pedestrian safety standards with less space needed. We also know that Oliver Heimler has gone as record several times that the current car’s front overhang is too large and not in fitting with the brand.
Looking deeper the key theme appears to be creating design consistency with the all electric J01 built in China. The goal is clearly to unify the design language across all models allowing consumers to have a choice that feels strictly about the propulsion system and nothing else.
MINI is radically changing the shape of the hatch to mimic the design choices made on the J01 electric MINI you see above. That means we’ll see fully customizable LED rear lighting that be a big departure from what we’re used to. Additionally MINI will introduce plastic trim that will stretch across the hatch connecting the rear lights. Finally it’s worth nothing that the Cooper models will have hidden exhausts. Given the brand is moving to all electric in the years ahead we expect that MINI wanted to visually reduce certain elements like exhausts on base models. The Cooper S and JCW models will retain them.
Wheels and tires sizes should stay the same as the F56 but we’ll see an entirely new family of designs throughout.
Why is MINI evolving the F56 after ten years in production?
We’ve been talking a lot about the upcoming all electric MINI offerings (the electric Cooper, Aceman and Countryman EV) but MINI isn’t letting go of internal combustion engines (ICE) yet. In an unprecedented move there will be two next generation MINI Coopers (hatches) built on opposite ends of the planet on two different platforms. This move will allow MINI to offer innovative electric offerings while still selling to the traditional ICE market for as long as possible. But key to this will be upgrading the F56 to a more modern spec in terms of tech.
Massive Upgrade In Technology In the F66 MINI Cooper
There will be a biggest we can clearly see a camera and sensor module integrated into the top of the grille allowing this next generation of F56 MINIs to make use of L1 and perhaps even L2 autonomy features seen on some BMWs. Currently MINI has only one vaguely autonomous feature – adaptive cruise. While helpful it really does one thing – follow the car in front. MINI’s aim is to introduce this technology as an option meant primarily for highway purposes and likely only on automatic equipped MINIs.
BMW’s current Active Driving Assistant Pro (optional on most mid-sized to larger BMWs) allows for Level 2+ below 81 MPH for 2023 models. That means you can take your hands off the wheel entirely as long as your eyes are on the road. The car will stop, go, turn and even change lanes on command. When that hits MINI models is yet to be seen but there’s no question it will eventually come.
But perhaps the most pressing reason for MINI to upgrade the Cooper’s camera system is newly introduced EU safety legislation that goes into affect in 2024. More specifically MINI needs to comply with the intelligent speed assistance (ISA) requirement that has the ability to limit cars speed in urban environments. Yes you read that right.
Yes that is a massive circular screen and it will be present on all next generation MINIs. What you see above is the screen sitting camouflaged plastic enclosure. The final version will allow the screen to float similar to what we saw a few months ago on the upcoming 2024 MINI electric hatch.
Beyond the massive screen there’s a lot to take in here. The switches and knobs (which are actually marked) are also identical to what we saw in the electric hatch leak meaning that MINI is moving to a consistent user experience across all models no matter where they’re produced or what platform they’re on. The automatic transmission gear lever is now going to be on the dash and next to it the return of a twist to start rather than a button. From there MINI will have it’s “experiences” toggle (more to come on that) and volume knob.
The F66 MINI Cooper Engine Line-Up
Being the last of the line in terms of ICE engines, the key will be evolution and not revolution. The petrol powered range will use an evolved version 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 around 150 hp. Then there’s a series of 2.0 four cylinder that could also use various BMW tunes. But we believe we’ll see something around the 200 hp mark at launch.
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.
When Will The Refreshed Next Generation F66 MINI Cooper Launch?
With the test mules progressing quickly, we believe we’ll see the refreshed F56 (likely not to be called the F56) sometime in late 2023 or early 2024. We’d expect a tiered launch starting with the Cooper and Cooper S, followed by a JCW model. This will all happen in the shadow of the entirely new and all electric MINI Cooper built in China and meant primarily for Asia and Europe. We’ll have more on that car and MINI’s plan to get it to the US soon.