Mini Just Gave Us Our Best Look Yet at Its Future

Mini's iconic car is getting a refresh, and it should have some significant changes.

mini testing vehicle
Mini

Big changes are coming at Mini, which is reportedly going all-electric by 2030 and launching its last combustion model in 2025. But before those changes occur, we'll finally be getting an update to the Mini hatchback, which last experienced a complete overhaul in 2013. Mini has revealed camouflaged testing photos of the new hatchback, due to arrive in 2023. (Admittedly, we're not sure whether this — coming in November — was the thrilling new vehicle announcement that Mini promised for October.)

mini cooper
Mini
mini cooper
Mini

We can glean a few things about the new Mini from the photos. It's a two-door vehicle, strongly suggesting Mini won't follow the VW Golf's lead by going four-door only. There will be an electric version. A bar in the camouflage notes that the vehicle shown is an electric test vehicle, though Mini is expected to include an internal-combustion option.

Broadly, the new Mini hatchback should incorporate features from the outgoing Mini and not look too different — though it's not clear yet whether the new 2022 grille goatee will come along for the ride or Mini will opt for a clean-shaven start. But the car should be getting more modern proportions with more space between the A-pillar and front wheel arch and shorter front and rear overhangs. The windshield also looks more horizontal than the previous generation.

This new hatchback launch should be an interesting one. It's vital for the Mini brand; the hatchback is Mini's raison d'être. But the Cool Britannia nostalgia has worn off after 20 years. The market has moved decidedly away from small cars and toward larger vehicles and crossovers.

Even if smaller cars become popular again, the current Mini hatch is not well-placed to capitalize. The gas model is not particularly efficient; you can now buy practical crossovers that get around 32 mpg combined. The electric Mini doesn't offer enough range. The small hatchback version is relatively impractical compared with other small sedans and hatches — and, with the brand moving upmarket, not particularly affordable.

We're not sure how Mini should resolve its myriad of challenges and expand its customer base. But producing a new hatch that's fun to drive would be a great place to start.

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