Mini design boss Oliver Heilmer, while speaking to our sister publication Autocar UK, said that the design team will explore the scope for new models and body styles beyond the ones currently offered, including the upcoming Mini EV scheduled to arrive in 2019.
Although Mini is committed to this strategy for the medium term, Heilmer believes it is vital to explore other options: “I’m not saying it’s wrong, but it’s good to ask if it’s going to last.”
Heilmer had previously helped to produce the virtual body versions displayed at the 2000 Paris motor show including a pickup, a cabriolet and the Clubman.
He said: “The first Mini was built out of a need. I would like to understand what the needs in the next five to six years will be. We want to look at customers who are 13, 14, 15 years old now. What is their aesthetic approach? It’s obviously influenced by smartphones. But if we understand it right, we can bring this into the future.”
The design boss has confirmed that he will not abandon the car’s characteristic styling such as the floating roof and wheel-at each-corner stance. However, he admits that it can be “limiting and challenging”. He said: “I love to deal with that challenge. You need to be experimental but can’t lose what it is.”
The next-gen Mini hatch, which is due in 2021, Heimler has said that he will reduce the front overhang seen on the current model. Before that, work on the Mini EV will need to be completed. He said: “It’s based on the three-door hatch. We are looking at various design features, including a colour concept and new wheels, but haven’t decided yet.” Heilmer also said the firm is still looking at the aerodynamic sills and air curtains: “We’ve got to see if it works. It doesn’t work on all cars.”
While the concept was displayed at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show, it has not been confirmed if the third-gen Mini GP will launch as a production model. “There’s a big jump with this GP,” Heilmer said. It runs on a wider track, prompting the unusual vertical vane wing extensions, which are as yet untested. “We’re getting feedback,” he said.
New Mini John Cooper Works GP concept unveiled
Mini Electric concept image gallery
On track with the Mini JCW Pro Edition
2017 Mini JCW Pro Edition video review