But according to the car's chief designer, Anders Warming, there’s more of the classic Mini in the new design than in any of its predecessors.
“The first thing you should recognise about the new Mini on the road is the LED lamp rings that encircle the headlamps. The lights themselves are larger and rounder, and more in keeping with the profile of the original Mini,” Warming began.
“We’ve also enlarged the grille – so it’s deeper and more pronounced – again, in line with the first Minis.”
Warming said the task of injecting retro styling back into the Mini was no easy task, given current pedestrian safety regulations.
“But we found this clever way of integrating the bumper beam by having it black, so it protrudes even further out to fulfil the crash solutions, while keeping the body and the grille as far back in the car as possible,” he said.
The new Mini has also grown slightly - around 100mm in length and 30mm in the wheelbase - providing more rear-seat legroom and more volume in the cabin.
“The end result is a new-generation Mini that draws its inspiration from the original design icon, but provides even more comfort and useability,” Warming explained.
Currently, there are seven Mini body styles and around 24 different variants, including all-wheel-drive and open top versions.
The new Mini will spawn up to 10 new variations including a plug-in hybrid and possibly a fully electric model.
Powering the new Mini is a family of all-new three- and four-cylinder turbocharged petrol and diesel engines. Regular Mini Cooper grades will again be accompanied by the warmer Mini Cooper S.
Automatic models get stop-start for the first time, which automatically shuts the engine down when the car stops in traffic, and starts up again as you lift your foot off the brake.
Beneath the exterior is also a brand-new platform with state-of-the-art technologies.
BMW claims the car's revised suspension and increased rigidity has intensified the famous go-kart handling the Mini brand is renowned for.
It’s also the first Mini to offer dynamic damper control, which allows drivers to chose between a sportier or more comfortable ride at the touch of a button.
“When it comes to safety, Mini has made a major leap forward”, said
management board member Peter Schwarzenbauer.
“With an extended range of driver assistance systems such as head-up display, collision and pedestrian warning and rear-view camera, the new Mini offers better protection for pedestrians, drivers and passengers than ever before,” he said.
The third-generation Mini Cooper hatch will arrive in Australian showrooms from March.