Mini’s upcoming hardtop isn’t as inappropriately named as is Mountain Dew—seriously, on what mountain does Hi-Liter-colored sugar water condense?—but when the next generation of the hatchback arrives in 2013, it’s going to be rather less mini than it is today.
As we see with this test vehicle, caught by our ace spy photographers, BMW is well into development of the next-gen Mini, which will share its front-wheel-drive platform with the next-generation BMW 1-series. (This is not to be confused with the Europe-only face-lifted 1-series that just dropped; that car remains rear-wheel drive for a few years.) We’re told that the styling already has been finalized—and it was done so under the brand’s previous design director, Gert Hildebrand, who oversaw every modern Mini up until that point. (His replacement, Anders Warming, already is at work penning the cars that will arrive following this one.)
But don’t take everything shown in these pictures too seriously. That apparent small third door? It’s just camo. This is a regular Mini three-door hatchback, not a Clubman replacement. In fact, we feel confident that the regular model’s growth will enable a rear seat large enough to take a next-gen Clubman off the table; the Countryman will continue to serve those customers who insist on a more-practical Mini.
There’s yet more fiction in these spy photos: the BMW 1-series–esque dash. Ask a Mini spokesperson what the brand’s core “values” are, and you’ll hear about—cliché alert—go-kart handling, personalization, and, yes, a central speedo. Those won’t change, and the sober interior present in these spy shots is just a dummy, albeit three-dimensional proof that the Mini and 1-series are set to merge underneath the skin.
With this car-laboration in mind, we expect the next-gen Mini to follow the 1-series in offering a powertrain lineup chock full of small turbocharged engines. In addition to four-cylinders, BMW will add a three-cylinder option to both cars, although it’s unclear whether Americans will be able to opt for an odd number of pistons in their Mini.
Before you go reaching for SSRIs to treat your WhyMustEverySuccessiveGenerationofCarsGrowBiggeritis, keep in mind that part of the reason that the core Mini will grow—in addition to taking a bit more fight to cars like the Volkswagen Golf in Europe—is to make space at the bottom of the range for an actually mini Mini. That vehicle will be conceptually similar to the Rocketman, which recently was approved for production.
The Mini brand may no longer be completely honest in name, but its products are (almost) all fun to cane. We expect the next-gen Mini hatch to be no different. We’re hopeful, at least, that it will taste better than Mountain Dew.
Thanks to: Car and Driver