The MINI Aceman is the brand’s first all new model in over a decade effectively replacing the beloved Clubman. It’s also the brands first crossover designed and built from the ground up as a full electric car. Previewed in the form a concept last year, its now been seen in arctic undergoing the typIcal BMW testing protocol giving us our best look yet at the baby crossover.
With the next generation U25 Countryman growing in size, there’s plenty if room in the line-up for a smaller crossover. How small is it? 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 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
Will It Be Sold In North America?
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 is 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, England||U25 / Leipzig, Germany||J01 / China (GWM)|
|F66 ICE Cooper 3 door||U25 ICE Countryman||J01 EV Cooper 3 Door|
|F66 ICE Cooper S 3 door||U25 ICE Countryman S||J01 EV Cooper S 3 Door|
|F66 ICE Cooper JCW 3 door||U25 ICE Countryman JCW||J01 EV Cooper JCW 3 Door|
|F65 ICE Cooper 5 door||U25 EV Countryman||J05 EV Aceman|
|F65 ICE Cooper S 5 door||U25 EV Countryman S||J05 EV Aceman S|
|F67 ICE Cooper Convertible||U25 EV Countryman JCW*||J05 EV Aceman JCW*|
|F67 ICE Cooper S Convertible||–||–|
|F67 ICE JCW Convertible||–||–|
Timing is in flux at the moment given the supply chain challenges. However we believe we’ll see the electric J01 Cooper and U25 Countryman start production in November 2023. The J01 MINI Aceman should follow shortly after in late 2024.