If the current MINI is what the brand calls “the perfect premium compact car for the modern city”, its successor should incorporate advanced digitalization, connectivity and self-driving tech into what is already a long-standing successful recipe.
At first glance, the Vision Next 100 concept has dropped the current generation’s retro looks almost entirely in favor of a cleaner, more innovative appearance, much like the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 concept unveiled next to it.
The MINI however even comes with its own motto, “Every MINI is my MINI”, which is meant to reflect the company’s take on car-sharing. In the future, customers/users will be able to request a MINI tailored to their personal requirements regardless of their location or time of day. According to the automaker, the fully-autonomous “MINI of the future” will be available 24/7, and will even be able to adapt to the driver’s individual tastes, interests and preferences.
“MINI looks to offer smart and bespoke mobility in cities that engages all the senses. And in the future, you might not actually have to own a vehicle to enjoy the benefits,” said BMW Group Design senior VP Adrian van Hooydonk.
In terms of aesthetics, the concept is wrapped in a “discreet, silver skin” to which MINI designers are referring to as a “blank canvas”. The “canvas” can be used in a number of ways, depending on the individual user’s mood – even the roof and the lighting of the interior would respond the the driver.
At the same time, future MINI cars should remain “small and nimble” so that drivers would actually “prefer to drive themselves – as often as possible,” added van Hooydonk. With this in mind, MINI has added a so-called John Cooper Works performance mode to the Vision Next 100 concept. When the car is driving itself though, the steering wheel will slide across to the center of the dashboard, along with the pedals – therefore providing the driver with increased leg room. As a matter of fact, the driver can choose to sit either on the left or on the right-hand side and both the steering wheel and the pedals can be moved accordingly. There’s also a difference in seat configuration between dynamic driving and regular driving where the seat will provide additional lateral support for the driver and front passenger with the help of active elements.
Whenever the driver doesn’t come into play, the MINI of the future will travel occupant-free to a charging station or a cleaning service or directly to the next user it’s supposed to pick up.
Another interesting piece of tech is the ‘Cooperizer’ – which is what MINI is calling this concept’s centrally-positioned circular instrument. The system controls entertainment, communications and autonomous-driving and can be influenced by the driver through the rotary controls.
There’s also an ‘Inspire Me’ button through which the Cooperizer checks downloaded user data and selects information that the driver might find useful. For example, it could suggest a set-up configured for an artist the driver admires, or it could just as well recommend a challenging fun route outside of town so that the John Cooper Works performance mode can come into play.
As summed up by head of MINI Design Anders Warming, the Vision Next 100 concept “shows how MINI’s unique take on the world could look in the future. The driving experience remains the emotional centerpiece, with effortless and seamless services grouped around it.”