New all-electric 2023 MINI Hatch spied in the snow

The next-generation MINI Hatch will go on sale in 2023, with smaller dimensions and a new electric powertrain

These spy shots provide our first look at the fourth-generation MINI Hatch. It’ll go on sale in 2023, with smaller dimensions and a choice of either petrol or electric powertrains, allowing it to compete with the likes of the Vauxhall Corsa and Peugeot 208.

The new MINI EV will be built in China, using a new electric platform that’s been jointly developed between BMW and Chinese SUV maker Great Wall. The petrol variant will have the same design and dimensions, but it’ll be based on BMW Group underpinnings and be assembled at MINI’s Oxford plant.

MINI has been public with its plans for some time now and, on two separate occasions, the firm’s boss, Bernd Körber, has told Auto Express of his desire for a smaller MINI hatch. His vision will reverse a significant growth in size since the introduction of the first BMW MINI in 2001 and return the brand to its roots as a purveyor of small, functional vehicles.

Speaking exclusively to Auto Express last year, Körber told us: “When I say small, I mean I want to make a small three-door hatch again. Today there are some restrictions for pedestrian safety, but we would like to, in terms of design and exterior, make the three-door hatch as small as possible.”

The prototype in our spy images shows the extent of MINI’s downsizing. Expectations of a shift to city car-sized proportions were unrealistic, with the new car instead straddling the line between city runabouts and small hatchbacks, providing direct competition for Fiat’s recently reinvented 500.

Some of the features on this development vehicle are placeholder items to hide the final design of the vehicle. The Cooper S intake on the bonnet is fake and it’s likely that the large headlamp housings are a red herring, too, with the real lights still hidden under the disguise.

The tail-lights aren’t the real deal, either, and this prototype is missing some trim, such as its side skirts and radiator grille.

There are some interesting design features hiding in the new MINI’s panelling, though. The windscreen, for instance, is far more steeply raked than the current model’s, which will provide better aerodynamics and boost the efficiency of the electric powertrain.

Also, while the new MINI will be smaller overall, its wheelbase could well be the same as its predecessor’s. The front wheels appear to be the same distance ahead of the driver as the current car’s, but there’s a shorter overhang up front.

Our spy photographers got a glimpse inside the new MINI, too, revealing a sweeping screen sitting on top of the dashboard which incorporates the instruments and infotainment system into one unit.

MINI has also hinted that a high performance John Cooper Works (JCW) version of the new car will remain on the cards, even if it goes fully electric. Körber suggested: “We have to go and define JCW in an electrified context and era. But that’s possible, there’s no problem, no contradiction.”

MINI’s pure-electric future

MINI has already taken the first steps to becoming an all-electric brand. The company’s plan is “80 per cent” complete, according to the company’s chief, Bernd Körber, with this new hatchback playing a key role in the brand’s rethink.

Following the three-door hatch will be a completely new model from MINI: an electric-only crossover, which is due in 2024. The newcomer is tasked with capitalising on growing consumer appetite for fully electric crossovers, as well as helping MINI gain a stronger foothold in China.

As for the Countryman, Körber explained that MINI’s current largest model will get even bigger for its next generation. “I would say in terms of dimensions, we talk half a segment increase for the Countryman, so in the direction of [BMW] X1 size but with the MINI proportions,” he explained.

It’ll be offered with a choice of petrol, diesel or pure-electric powertrains but, unlike the hatch and crossover, it’ll be based on a single BMW Group-sourced platform. 

What does the new MINI hatch have to beat? Check out our list of the best EVs on sale now

Recommended

'Judging by 2020's stats, demand for EVs is growing'
Opinion - electric cars
Opinion

'Judging by 2020's stats, demand for EVs is growing'

Steve Fowler finds some positive all-electric figures from a year of sales doom and gloom
13 Jan 2021
‘Your car may not be the most efficient tool for your new, lower-mileage life’
Opinion

‘Your car may not be the most efficient tool for your new, lower-mileage life’

Mike Rutherford thinks now is the perfect time to re-evaluate your modes of transport
20 Dec 2020
Pester power from kids pushes parents towards electric cars
News

Pester power from kids pushes parents towards electric cars

More than half of UK children want their parents to make the switch to an electrified car
27 Oct 2020
Official: 400 jobs to be cut at MINI Oxford plant
MINI

Official: 400 jobs to be cut at MINI Oxford plant

Reduced customer demand will see almost half all agency staff at the MINI Oxford factory lose their jobs by mid-October
26 Aug 2020

Most Popular

New Volkswagen Touareg R 2021 review
Volkswagen Touareg R - front
Volkswagen Touareg

New Volkswagen Touareg R 2021 review

Our verdict as the Volkswagen Touareg R performance SUV gets plug-in hybrid tech
16 Apr 2021
New 2021 SEAT Ibiza facelift arrives with styling and tech updates
SEAT Ibiza facelift - front
SEAT Ibiza Hatchback

New 2021 SEAT Ibiza facelift arrives with styling and tech updates

The SEAT Ibiza supermini has been tweaked for 2021, with a new interior the star of the show
15 Apr 2021
New 2021 Audi Q4 e-tron on sale now, priced from £40,750
Audi Q4 e-tron - front
Audi Q4 e-tron

New 2021 Audi Q4 e-tron on sale now, priced from £40,750

Two body styles, three powertrains and four trim-levels confirmed for Audi’s compact Q4 EV, including a 295bhp quattro option
15 Apr 2021