BMW is readying the next generation of Mini, codenamed F56 and due to be shown in late 2013, probably at the Frankfurt motor show. CAR magazine's spy photographers caught the new Mini Mk3 on test at the Nurburgring in Germany today.
Mini is preparing a whole family of newcomers, as we've previously outlined in our earlier new Mini scoops. But first up is the three-door hatchback, pictured here in these new photos.
Its elongated nose is plain to see, with a longer front overhang, while the front headlamp assembly reveals a radically different light structure with indicators atop the main beam cluster. All very Mini, but different.
A new platform for a new Mini
The transition from the long-running R family to the more advanced, totally modular F family also happens to mark the first joint venture between Mini and BMW, with a new front-wheel drive architecture underpinning the new Minis and a new generation of smaller BMWs.
Alternatively known as LU for lower class line, the F matrix serves as basis for all Mk3 Minis and for most future 1-series BMWs.
Although this spy photo captures a three-door Mini, there will be a five-door too. Historically, Mini (and its sister models from Riley and Wolseley) concentrated on two-door cars, but in future we are going to see more and more five-door variants.
Fusing style and practicality, the five-door hatch is an obvious addition to the range, which will attract more family-minded buyers. But Mini has made more changes to this model than simply add two doors. The hatchback features a bespoke grille, its own set of doors, a third side window, a more upright C-post and a slightly longer rear overhang.
But this three-door 2013 Mini looks the same as today's! What's new?
Fair point. Our spy photos suggest that it'll be business as usual for the next-gen Mini, but study the pics in detail and you can see that the new Mini is a bit bigger and dimensionally different. The now-classic Mini shape is retained, but new decorative elements lurk under the disguise to give the 2013/2014 newcomer some extra zip.
The car pictured is a Cooper S, which looks to retain the twin-pipes, centrally mounted stance at the rear.
Mini intends to draw street cred from a mix of cute exterior, classy interior, Cooper-bred dynamics and green content. While all versions bar Cooper S and JCW will be powered by highly efficient turbocharged three-cylinder engines, some models like the next Mini Countryman replacement can even be had as plug-in hybrid.
Mini Paceman: coming in early 2013
It's not quite the last roll of the Mini dice - there will be one new launch in the current-shape Mini family. The company plans to launch the Paceman coupe in October 2012, a sort of junior X6 for those who want a less practical, cooler looking Mini Countryman.