New MINI Hatch: supermini spied in all-electric form

We now know what the next-generation MINI Hatch looks like thanks to these revealing snapshots

The fourth-generation of the ‘new’ MINI has been spotted without camouflage, confirming key design details we predicted from previous spy images. The new car is also set to receive not only an electric powertrain option but petrol ones too. 

These images show a prototype model of the sporty MINI Cooper S but it’s clear the final design is pretty much ready and it’s a major departure from previous models. While the MINI has grown with every new iteration, this new car has adopted a more compact design. Some of this can be attributed to MINI’s growing range of cars above the Hatch, but it should also provide closer competition to the smaller Fiat 500

The headlights and front bumper are quite similar to the current car’s, sharing the same bulbous styling. However, the windscreen has been raked back a little further, probably to help improve aerodynamics and maximise the amount of range for the MINI Electric variant.

MINI has given the Hatch’s rear end a much more thorough overhaul. There’s a new set of trapezoidal tail lights unlike anything we’ve seen on a MINI before, connected by a fresh trim piece running across the tailgate.

The front and rear overhangs look considerably shorter than on the current model, but it’s also possible that the car’s wheelbase will be the same as its predecessor’s.

The interior of the new MINI is also on show here and it’s a clear evolution over the current model’s, with the traditional circular readout becoming a huge infotainment screen in the centre of the dashboard.

The brand’s trademark toggle switches have survived the update, but the digital gauge cluster fixed to the steering column of the current car has been swapped for a head-up display mounted on top of the dashboard. The quirky two-spoke steering wheel is new, too.

New 2023 MINI Hatch: platform and powertrains

The next MINI Hatch will be available with a choice of both petrol and electric powertrains – at least in the early stages of its life. The electric version will be built in China on a platform that was jointly developed between BMW and Chinese SUV maker Great Wall.

The petrol-powered model will continue to be built in Oxford, but it’ll be based on BMW Group underpinnings. We expect the chassis will be an updated version of the current car’s UKL platform, which will be given the new codename FAAR.

This version of the car will also spawn further variants beyond the three-door hatch. MINI and BMW previously confirmed that the MINI Convertible will make it to the next generation and that it’ll be built in Oxford from 2025.

Before we even started spying prototypes, MINI went public with its plans for the fourth- generation Hatch. Bernd Körber (MINI’s boss in 2019, succeeded by Stefanie Wurst) first told Auto Express of his desire for a smaller successor to the current model at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show. His vision is to reverse the MINI’s significant growth in size since the introduction of the first BMW MINI in 2001, and to return the brand to its roots as a purveyor of small, functional vehicles.

Körber explained: “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.” Expectations of a shift to city car proportions are unrealistic, but Auto Express understands that the new car will straddle the line between a city runabout and a small hatchback.

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.”

Click here for our list of the best small electric cars on sale right now

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