Somewhere, underneath all that swirly black-and-white vinyl (swirly’s a word), is the new-for-2013 Mini Cooper.
We don’t know a lot about the new Mini’s hardware yet, but here’s what the pictures tell us: from the longer wheelbase, we can see that the next Mini will be even less mini than the current, not-so-mini Mini. The next Mini might also be turning its back on the large, central speedo (one of the brand’s trademarked features since BMW resurrected it just over a decade ago) in favor of a more conventional interior – all in a bid to make the brand appeal to more American buyers and move the Cooper “up-market” to make room for a more mini Rocketman-sized “niche” Mini.
The new Mini platform will also be used by BMW and its (doomed?) “i” brand of electric vehicles – as many as 20 new models, all sharing the same basic architecture and employing a MacPherson strut front suspension mated to BMW’s signature Z-axle at the rear. Four-wheel drive will also be on offer, paving the way for a possible 1-series SUV from BMW and slightly larger version of today’s Mini Countryman.
Why so many models? In addition to helping the company’s model mix hit stricter CAFE standards, BMW managers estimate that the premium compact car market will continue to grow (by 6% each year) through, and they want to keep their piece of the pie that they (arguably) helped create.