In Depth

Mini 2022: smaller design, electric version, specs and release

Fiat 500-rivalling hatchback set to return to its roots with size reduction

Mini has set its sights on shrinking the size of its popular hatchback when the company launches its upcoming fourth-generation model. 

The Mini name is synonymous with the compact city car that starred in 1969 film The Italian Job, but after BMW bought the rights to the name from Rover in 1994, the German carmaker upped the car to a hatchback in a bid to rival the Volkswagen Golf.

Now, however, BMW is planning to return the Mini to its roots by launching a three-door compact model.

In an interview with Autocar, Mini chief Bernd Koerber said that he would “love to see the core Mini shrink again” and that the firm is “having proportion and design discussions at the moment”.

“The task now is to design it. In three to four years, I’d like to see the start of the next generation,” he said. “Hopefully, in the next generation, we can make it even more compact, back to where Mini comes from.”

Korber also hinted that a crossover - which could revive the Traveller name - may launch alongside the city car. And an all-electric version is on the cards, too.

When will the new Mini launch?

An official release date has yet to be announced, but the next-generation Mini is expected to arrive in either 2022 or 2023.

What will it look like?

As with Fiat’s 2007 resurrection of the iconic 500 city car, which was made between 1957 and 1975, the Mini is “more likely to revert to the size of the first-generation BMW Mini” from 2000 as opposed to the Sir Alec Issigonis-designed original from 1959, says Auto Express.

Given that the current model takes several design cues from the original, including the round headlights and oval-shaped grille, the next model is unlikely to shake up the brand’s design formula drastically - although the car’s footprint is set to shrink.

Inside, the next-generation Mini will feature a revamped cabin with “a greater focus on digital technology”, says Autocar. However, the car’s signature “round centre console” will remain a key part of the cabin’s design. 

Joining the new Mini line-up will be a Cabriolet model, plus a Clubman estate and Countryman SUV, according to the motoring magazine. A Traveller version may also be in the works, taking the form of an electric crossover based on the BMW i3. 

Will it go electric?

Almost certainly, though reports differ on whether the next-generation will be an electric-only model.

According to Auto Express, the next-generation Mini will be reimagined as an EV and is expected to sit alongside a range of combustion-engined models that will retain the proportions of the company’s current cars. 

Boss Korber told the magazine that BMW architecture currently in production would not be suitable for the electrified Mini, meaning the company would need to develop “a new technical platform”.

However, Autocar suggests that the electrified variant will be offered as an alternative powertrain, rather than as a distinct model. This would follow the company’s current strategy, with the Mini Electric [pictured top] sharing its underpinnings with the Cooper S - albeit with an electric motor in place of the combustion engine.

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