Mini is about to launch the third-generation of the Mini hatchback which has proved so successful since BMW remixed the British brand in 2001.
It's not the last of the current Mini family. In 2013, Mini will launch one final model to complement the hatch, Convertible, Clubman estate, Coupe and Roadster: the Paceman coupé inspired, in essence, by the BMW X6. Click here to see the Mini Paceman concept car.
Mini: the new F56 family
Just six months after the Paceman, the first third-generation Mini - a three-door hatchback codenamed F56 - is due to see the light of day. Our artist's impression above reveals the likely look - a modest evolution of the current style.
This is a significant new car for BMW: the transition from the long-running R family codename to the more advanced, totally modular F family also happens to mark the first joint venture between Mini and BMW.
According to CAR's reliable sources, we expect the following highlights from the small car brand:
• A five-door hatchback F54, due in summer 2014, challenging the new A-class and A1 Sportback
• A four-door Clubman F54, due in summer 2015, takes on Mercedes CLC Shooting Brake and Audi A3 Sportback, gaining a fourth door, 10 inches in length and therefore more boot space.
• A five-door Sportvan F58, due in spring 2016, sporting a lower roof, longer-wheelbase designed in essence as a people carrier
• A four-door saloon F59, due in autumn 2016, all-new notchback zooms in on A3 Sportback
As reported this month by CAR, sadly theMini Rocketman, aka the baby Mini, has been canned. It was too tricky to make it meet crash and safety regs on account of its shorter wheelbase and diminutive footprint.
The big plan for the Mini F56 range
Historically, Mini has always concentrated on two-door cars. In the future, however, we are going to see more four-door variants. Fusing style and practicality, the five-door hatch is an obvious addition to the range. 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 and a slightly longer rear overhang. Internally known as Clubman 410 because of its extended length, the Mk II version actually measures 4250mm between bumpers.
All the new-generation Minis will use turbocharged three-cylinder engines driving the front wheels; you'll see the same three-pot in small future BMWs. But Munich also plans a plug-in hybrid version for some models, most notably the Countryman successor.
The new Mini Clubman F54
Like its chief rival, the follow-up to the Audi A3 Sportback, the next Clubman will be fitted with one rear door on each side instead of the quirky asymmetrical arrangement on the current vintage. The vertically split so-called butcher's doors again got preference over a conventional top-hinged tailgate, and we may eventually even see a modern interpretation of the Morris Woody theme.
The still tentative new Traveller would be given a slightly taller roof, a longer rear overhang and a contrasting geometric structure made of pressed steel, not timber, for that special treatment of the B- to C-pillar section.
The Mini van F58
After long discussions, the Mini division has under Kay Segler, zoomed in on the definitive version of the Mini Van. Management have chosen a Sportvan which surprises with its unusual proportions. The versatile five-seater sits on an extra-long wheelbase and displays an unexpectedly low roofline about on a par with the Traveller.
If we're being honest, we don't think it'll look like the artist's impression above (we certainly hope not), but that does give us an idea of what a taller Mini could look like.
For cost and communality reasons, the Sportvan retains conventional front-hinged doors, but the seat configuration, the boot space and roof could hardly be more innovative. While the Sportvan will be twinned with the 1 Series Touring, the four-door saloon is linked to the BMW 1 Series NES, short for New Entry Sedan. While NES is at this point a China-only project, the Mini notchback is reportedly a global programme.