MINI has been caught testing the next generation MINI Cooper on the streets in Germany. This is the first time a prototype of the new model has been seen out in public.
The next generation MINI will use an all-new front-wheel drive platform which is being developed in part with MINI's parent company BMW. The platform will make its way into future BMW models as well.
On the face of it, this prototype MINI seems to show a very similar body to the current model, showcasing that sturdy little shape we've all come to love. It is expected to be larger overall compared with the current model though, offering a wider stance and roomier interior.
The front end appears to showcase a new set of headlights, replacing the large beady items that were first seen on the original Mini of the Fifties and Sixties. Although it might be exclusive to this particular prototype, the upcoming model might get smaller, single-piece projector-style arrangements instead.
Another aspect of the new model that is expected to change is the interior, especially the instrument cluster. Reports say the new model will get a more conventional twin-gauge setup in front of the driver, instead of the current, quirky central gauge design.
Powering some of the new range of models will be an all-new three-cylinder turbocharged engine produced by BMW. The engine may be small but it will be efficient, and it will use BMW's TwinPower (twin-scoll) turbocharging technology and direct-injection to provide plenty of power and torque. Definite specifications on the engines are yet to be announced.
The rear of the new model takes on more of the Countryman style, incorporating a large more bulgy rear hip layout. The rear bumper bar also looks much bigger and more pronounced than on the existing model.
The new model isn't likely to hit the showrooms until 2013, but an earlier unveiling is likely in late-2012. We'll be sure to provide any updates on details of the new model as soon as possible.