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RPM TV Website | December 2, 2021

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Mini’s bold vision for future motoring

Mini’s bold vision for future motoring
Deon Schoeman

Mini’s new Vision Next 100 concept car, created as part of the BMW Group’s 100th anniversary, showcases the future direction of the brand, while embracing trends such as car sharing and autonomous driving.

Interestingly, the concept is substantially shorter than the current production model, suggesting that Mini might still be considering a smaller model to fit below the current, increasingly corpulent line-up, sometime in the future.

Also of note, the concept swaps the retro design approach that has traditionally been part of the modern era Mini’s DNA for a cleaner, minimalist appearance that still doffs a hat to its heritage, but also embraces a more futuristic approach.

Vitally, the windscreen now extends all the way to the front of the car, creating a monobox silhouette that allows for much more interior space. The Mini profile is still recognisable because of the fender line, however.

The new configuration is made possible by the location of the zero-emissions electric motor at the rear, which frees up space in front, while the doors slide fore and aft, opening a large aperture for easy access.

Inside, the emphasis is on space and versatility in an uncluttered, hard-wearing environment. Configurable instruments and displays are located in an extended colour TFT strip at the base of he windscreen, while a multi-wheel controller allows access to functions and features. The steering wheel and pedals can be moved to the centre, left or right, depending on the operating mode.

For instance, in autonomous driving mode, the steering wheel and pedals slide to the centre, freeing up space for the front occupants. Being able to move the steering wheel also helps with easing entry and exit from the cabin. A bench seat in front offers greater versatility and more comfortable seating.

Mini foresees its model of the future being used in car-sharing schemes, with future Minis driving themselves from one user to the next. A so-called Cooperizer allows selection of different, personalised settings to suit different drivers, including a John Cooper Works mode.

Don’t expect to see a real-world production version of the Vision Next 100 any time soon, but individual elements are likely to start filtering into next-generation Mini models sooner rather than later, while the new design direction, and the prospect of a ‘junior’ Mini, appear to be confirmed by the concept, too.

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