Mini Vision Urbanaut concept is a wild look at the future

Published: 18 November 2020

► Urbanaut concept is off the wall
► Small footprint, big interior space
► 'Moments' replace drive modes

If you’ve just exclaimed ‘what on earth is that?!’, you’re not the only one asking that question. This is the Mini Vision Urbanaut, a new concept car that supposedly gives us a glimpse into cars from the brand in the far future.

Mini’s designers have been let off the leash of the brand’s usual Britpop pastiche, creating a small MPV-like… thing akin to VW’s ID Buzz concept. It’s namely an exercise in maximising space on a relatively small footprint using a flat battery-electric powertrain underneath.

If it looks familiar, Mini created a similar concept like this back in 1997 called the Spiritual Too, as Rover looked to revitalise the Mini name.

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So, it’s all about space?

Yes. Even the exterior design is meant to take up as little room as possible, with clean surfacing and a tall glasshouse. Lighting blends into the bodywork, with probably the only nods to current Minis being the arrangement of the front and rear light motifs.

Urbanaut rear

The Urbanaut rolls on what Mini calls ‘skateboard’ wheels in blue, which can illuminate depending on your drive mode.

You can drive it?

Yes, but there’s also the implication that it can drive itself, as the steering wheel can completely fold away. In fact, the interior is highly flexible, with seating that can fold out of flat surfaces, or be hidden away for more interior space. Details like a canopy in the front windscreen, and a day bed for excursions away are integrated into the interior space. Mini’s round information display that evolved from a simple speedo on the original car to the glowing, screen-inset infotainment system in current models, is now placed on the table in the centre.

Urbanaut interiro

Those modes are named Vibe and Chill are static modes that change the arrangement of the interior. Wanderlust is the only mode where the car is actually moving, allowing you to drive yourself or let the car navigate on its own.

Is there any reality to this at all?

Well, perhaps not in quite as dramatic a way as this, but Mini has confirmed that it is developing another large (for Mini) people mover/SUV alongside the Countryman that will be fully-electric.

This is just one part of a massive product overhaul coming from Mini, starting from 2023 with an all-new three- and five-door hatchback. A replacement for the Countryman will come in 2024, as will something to replace the Clubman in the same year, too.

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches

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