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Next Mini hatch to feature “evolutionary” styling

Hot rocket: The Mini Rocketman is off the agenda for now, but could preview future styling cues for the iconic British brand.

Next-gen Mini hatch to come from BMW’s UKL platform and surface later this year

6 Mar 2013

THE next-generation Mini hatch that is scheduled for a reveal later this year will feature evolutionary styling and be one of the first vehicles to be built on the BMW Group’s UKL front-drive platform.

Not slated for release until sometime in 2014, the Mini hatch will test the waters of the controversial platform that will also form the basis for BMW’s first front-drive small car, previewed as the Concept Active Tourer at the Paris motor show last year.

Speaking at the local launch of the new Paceman coupe in Brisbane this week, Mini Australia’s national manager Kai Bruesewitz confirmed that he had seen the next-gen hatch in the flesh and was impressed with what he saw.

“It’s a great looking car,” he said. “It’s an evolution of the current model but completely new, everything is new.” Mr Bruesewitz said it would be unwise to take a dramatic styling turn with the new model, given its history and enthusiastic fan-base and hinted at safety improvements over the current version.

“With the love that our Mini customers have developed for the brand, there won’t be a radical change of design. We will continuously develop the shape from today, evolving and taking new requirements such as pedestrian safety requirements into consideration as there are pretty tight rules in Europe.”

39 center imageLeft: Mini Austrialia national manager Kia Bruesewitz

Discussing the interior of the new model, Mr Bruesewitz said that there will be big changes for the cabin, without neglecting the heritage of the iconic brand.

Mr Bruesewitz addressed concerns that the current model wasn’t different enough from the hatch that re-launched the brand in 2002, saying that the 2014 version will “absolutely” be different enough.

Mr Bruesewitz said that an all-wheel drive version of the hatch was not out of the question, pointing to the high take-up of AWD variants across the BMW range in Europe.

“I could also see it for Mini hatch, but I don’t necessarily think we would have a very high uptake here in Australia. But internationally I think that is something that is looked into.” In a bid to increase its global market share, the BMW-owned car-maker is looking to expand the number of body styles from the seven it currently offers.

While there has been some talk of a Mini sedan in the works, Mr Bruesewitz was quick to point out that any discussion of such a vehicle was “hypothetical.” “There isn’t a decision yet and I don’t have any dates of when this could happen but this is an idea that the headquarters is playing around with and there are markets around the world, not necessarily Australia, but China and the US that have a very strong natural demand for a sedan,” he said.

Another vehicle that Mr Bruesewitz would like to see come to fruition is the funky Rocketman concept that was revealed at the 2011 Geneva motor show and received another outing at the London Olympics last year.

“There were discussions for the Rocketman, but this is not planned at the moment. Even though I find the idea for metro cities very attractive. But there has to be some more calculations done in Munich to make this a viable business case because with smaller cars, the profit is smaller as well.” While not completely off the table, he said that the Rocketman was “not that likely at the moment.” Mi Mr Bruesewitz said that there were other concept ideas being discussed at Mini HQ that could potentially become production models and grow the brand globally, but they were likely to show up later this decade.

“Mini wants to grow overall significantly, and I am pretty confident that we can achieve that by growing into markets where we still have opportunities and by offering a broader product portfolio where it makes sense and where we can offer something that is still a Mini with all the iconic attributes,” he said.

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