How will the MINI look in the Future?
There is no doubt that the MINI is an iconic design, and from the halcyon days of the 60s - when anyone who was anyone drove one - to the current crop of Clubmans, changes in design have been thought out and tested to meet demands of the day.
So what does the future hold for the MINI?
At a recent event called ‘MINI Design@Home’ the Head of MINI Design. Anders Warming, showed off some samples of how it could be advanced so that its position in the compact class continues to be as high as possible and with as much quality as possible.
Showing off what the company have called MINI Vision, in 3D hologramatic presentation too, it highlighted interactive gadgets such as the Driving Experience Control switch which “allows the whole of the car’s interior to be transformed into a variety of different colour and experience worlds in the blink of an eye.” But more about that later!
Watching the virtual reality that is the 3D experience of sketches and 1:1 clay models, the event attendees were able to put themselves into the shoes, eyes and 3D glasses of the MINI designers and see how this particular process allows them to test and fine-tune creative ideas quickly and under realistic conditions.
So how will the exterior look in the future?
According to the company: “A perfect balance between old and new.”
It’s all down to keeping the MINI identity by not only looking into the past to keep the core values that were generated and created there (e.g. the hexagonal radiator grille) but also taking note of any technical innovations that may be available (now OR soon) and any aesthetic touches that could help performance and style (like bumper and auxiliary lights in the grille.)
Traditional is undeniably important and the unmistakable rounded MINI exterior will always remain even if the elliptical full-LED headlights are a new touch. The famous MINI separation of the roof, glasshouse and body, the chrome strip wraparound, the distinctive side indicator element and the black band framing the lower edge of the car are all going to stay as hallmarks of the MINI style.
But then for the future part, the MINI Vision moulds all these elements together into one flowing, interconnected unit made from an extremely innovative, lightweight and mouldable metal made by compressing other fibres into a composite called “organo metal”.
The aerodynamics have been looked at with airflow-optimisation almost everywhere, and the sporty-looking side of the MINI is also taken care of, especially from the rear view.
How will the interior look in the future?
“Originality and creativity packed into a very small space” is the simple answer.
Not renowned for its interior capacity, unless you are talking an extortionately amazing number of students trying to get into the record books, MINI Vision has decided to concentrate on individual styling, variability, functionality and aesthetic appeal as it looks to give as much comfort as possible inside what is basically a bedsit on wheels (to use a housing comparison!)
Bu opening the cockpit out, making it transparent, and adding a “floating” centre console, the space may only be increased slightly but the ‘feel’ of the space will be so much more as both driver and passengers will be able to feel that they are in a much larger car – a bit like smoke and mirrors if you like.
But there are still MINI style elements within from the days of hope and glory: touches like the elastic fabric straps on the insides of the doors that are particularly arranged so that they echo the stripes of the Union Jack flag whilst being truly functional for holding magazines, drinks bottle and mobile phones in easy reach.
The up-to-dating doesn’t stop there though. There is the MINI click system that offers a variety of holders and the like to help customise the interior, and these include smartphone holders, a storage box, cup holder or a small. I bet they weren’t thought of back in the 60s!
And then there is the technology.
The aforementioned Driving Experience Control switch allows a choice to be made as to which mode the driver prefers: pure and focused or fully-interconnected mode, with the two modes “expressed in different colours using calm, clear light and dynamic, energy-charged shades.”
As if this particular lights feature isn’t enough for the futuristic traveller, there is the fully-interconnected “MINI Disco” floor where an interplay of colours, light plays around in the footwells, and a choice of classic, analogue-style view or an impressive 3D look on the console, depending once again of driver mood and preference.
What about colours? Have we got more choice in the future; and what will be the ‘color de jour’ for then?
“Structures form characters.”
It may be worth all this work just to finally be able to get a MINI in a Glamorous Gold paint finish (technically a shimmering gold-tinged orange tone, but we’ll let them have this one because it sounds good!) as it makes its debut in MINI history, the shimmering side of it helped by the gleaming metallic shade added to it courtesy of the organo metal.
Inside the seats is a rough, tough and rugged dark-blue fabric to emulate the colour of power suits so beloved by businessmen and women, with similarly coloured trim seamlessly creating a consistency to the MINI Vision.
But, according to Mr Warming’s presentation, the way forward for MINI is its capacity for personalisation that MINI Vision offers, making it “the perfect partner for the road, tailored to the needs and preferences of the individual driver.”
The future’s bright; the future’s a Glamorous Gold MINI.