While many criticise modern Minis for not being as 'mini' as the original, the company's lead for exterior design argues the requirements of modern cars and emerging powertrain technology don't mean the brand's cars need to be 'mini' anymore.
Speaking with CarAdvice at the local launch of the updated Mini Hatch and Convertible range in Brisbane, Queensland, Florian Nissl – project lead for exterior design at the company's global division – said the company has a recognisable design that doesn't necessarily translate to tiny cars.
"Being a customer of cars myself I have these memories of the cars I used to drive, like 15 maybe almost 20 years ago, and [I don't] necessarily want to have this experience again," he said, "[today] those cars are bigger and also much more safe."
"Then I also think that once you get familiar with the idea that Mini is a brand that doesn't necessarily offer cars that are 'mini' because the name says 'Mini', then I think you start to realise, at least that's it for me, that you can do a lot with the brand really because it's very strong from a design point of view. It's very flexible and so on and that's very exciting really."
"There is a lot of positive chances in there to create new products and cater for a new experiences. So for example, when we designed the Vision Next 100, we really tried to take a lot of that into account and into consideration and try to really strip down the design, [but] we stayed very true to the [original] design," he continued.
"From my point of view it worked. The car gives you still the impression it's a Mini, but it's a completely different design then what we have now in the suite. So it shows you what you can do with the design language and the brand in retrospect."
"We even changed the proportion of the car, and again it still works as a Mini. So therefore it shows how much flexibility there is, in terms of its design," Nissl added.
Even before the Vision Next 100 concept, Mini has quite blatantly strayed from its original concept of a tiny car, just look at the Countryman SUV as en example – there's nothing really 'mini' about it, though it clearly resembles its smaller stablemates in terms of its design.
Alternative powertrain technology will likely cause some design shifts, too. Last week the company released the first design sketches of components for the upcoming all-electric Mini, set to be based on the 3 Door Hatch, and previewed by the Mini Electric concept shown last year.
Compared to the combustion-powered version, the electric Mini will get unique design elements like a closed grille, various 'E' badges (which resemble a power plug), and a futuristic alloy wheel look with an asymmetrical spoke motif.