For a car company with a name like Mini, which has long thrived on its small stature, the German-owned British marquee isn’t afraid to offer a large variety of cars to choose from. Our last count put the total number of variations at six — more if you count the all the special editions, limited editions and John Cooper Works models. But despite there being more Mini models than days of the week, the next model coming from the company is going to be the most important.
It’s no secret that Mini is working on a successor to the popular Cooper. Word on the street is Mini will look to show off its latest creation sometime at the end of next year. And when it does debut, former senior designer with BMW DesignWorksUSA, Sonny Lim, thinks it will carry a more mainstream appeal and highlight a “radical departure from the current Mini design.”
Lim’s Mini Zero Concept (pictured), which is featured on online portfolio site Behance, is a representation of what that departure just might entail. Breaking away from the current generation Cooper while still hearkening back to the nameplate’s distinct heritage, Lim’s concept is slightly smaller than the Mini Cooper – measuring in at 140.6 inches from end to end – but slightly longer than the canceled Mini Rocketman.
Overall, the Mini Zero Concept is a smart-looking car with a sleek and sophisticated design that seems to recapture the humble roots of the classic Mini while retaining its premium status. From a design perspective, it effortlessly captures a distinct modern flavor without being eccentric. Everything you would expect from a Mini is here: from the distinct oval-plated headlights, to the traditional Mini grille. It’s all very “Mini”, which is certainly a good thing. You don’t become an automotive icon with pedestrian design.
Of course a pretty facelift will only get you so far, which is why performance enhancements and attention to the overall driving experience has been taken into consideration with the Mini Zero Concept. The smaller stature isn’t just a throwback to the Mini’s of yesteryear, but would rather offer improved performance and yield better fuel economy with minimal changes to the drivetrain.
Unsurprisingly, there has been a lot of criticism placed at the feet of the brand as of late. Recall all those models and special editions we mentioned? A majority of that complaint stems from the copious amount of Mini models on offer – a large number of which feature playful and gimmicky design aesthetics and unflattering, “trendy” extras ill suited for the car’s key market. Indeed, when you take into account the fact that Mini is losing ground in the premium small-car segment from rivals such as Audi and Fiat, well than you have not-so-Mini-sized problem. A fresh reset for the Cooper and a simplified approach may just be what the brand needs to propel it back into the mainstream and – more importantly — into consumer’s garages.
Until then, we only hope the powers that be over at Mini and BMW are paying attention and we get something even remotely similar to the Zero Concept.