It's not so Mini anymore!
The updated 2018 Mini Hatch is nearly upon us, but how far has it come since the original reborn, 'new' Mini Cooper?
Good question! To find out, let's have a look back in time to see how the German-owned British hatch has evolved after nearly two decades on sale.
First generation (R50/R53): 2000-2006
Launched towards the end of 2000 (2002 in Australia), the 'R50' Mini hatchback was the first model launched under the new Mini marque, after the original Mini was discontinued earlier that same year.
The first-generation of the new Mini was developed by the Rover Group and BMW during the late 1990s, though the Bavarian marque took full control of the project when it sold Rover in 2000.
In Australia, just the 85kW Cooper and 120kW Cooper S were launched initially, though a more affordable and less powerful Mini One was available overseas.
The original Mini Hatch was priced from $32,650 before on-road costs when it arrived Down Under in 2002, while the supercharged Cooper S asked for $39,900 – which was a lot of money for a light car, even by today's standards.
A facelifted version launched in 2004, also bringing the Convertible body style (R52).
Fun Fact: The original Mini Hatch had a giant, throwback speedo mounted in the centre of the dashboard
Second generation (R56): 2006-2013
While it may not look all that different, the R56 Mini Hatch was all-new, featuring a re-engineered platform and numerous design updates.
The Cooper S made the switch from a supercharged 1.6-litre engine to a slightly more potent 128kW turbocharged unit, with the engine itself based on the Prince architecture shared with PSA Peugeot Citroen.
Highlights included the introduction of a diesel model in the Cooper D and One D – later joined by the Cooper SD in 2011 –along with parent BMW's Efficient Dynamics technologies, like idle stop/start on certain models.
While, the second-generation Convertible was introduced in 2009, the R56 Mini also spawned several body variants for the first time, including the Countryman and Paceman crossovers, six-door Clubman wagon, along with the Coupe and Roadster sports cars.
A facelifted Mk II version launched in 2009, which formed the basis of several special editions – including the manual-only 155kW Mini John Cooper Works, capable of sprinting from 0-60mph (0-96km/h) in a brisk 6.2 seconds.
Third generation (F55/F56): 2013-
Mini's third-generation family launched in 2013, bringing a cutesier look than its predecessors, an all-turbocharged engine family, and the BMW Group's UKL platform shared with models like the BMW X1 and 2 Series Active Tourer.
The F56 3 Door is larger in every dimension than Minis past, while the introduction of the larger Mini 5 Door (F55) made the not-so-Mini even larger again with a second pair of doors for the first time.
As before, the Mini Hatch spawned several body variants, including the Convertible, Clubman and Countryman, though the Coupe and Roadster were dropped.
Headlining the third-gen Mini range is the John Cooper Works, which features a 170kW 2.0-litre turbo, good for a 6.1-second sprint from 0-100km/h when fitted with the eight-speed automatic transmission.
A range of new technologies debuted in the F56 Mini as well – sourced from the BMW range – including the availability of LED headlights, a head-up display, rear-view camera, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning.
The 'LCI' upgrade (top of story) – BMW-speak for facelift – will arrive in Australia in July complete with a tweaked design, a new dual-clutch automatic transmission for all models but the top-spec John Cooper Works, along with new paint options.
An all-electric version, dubbed the Mini Electric, will be launched in 2019.