Mini’s Vision Concept Previews Next Hardtop Design, and It’s Surprisingly Good
All photos courtesy of Mini
A couple of days ago, I suffered from a minor embolism that led me to rant about the Mini brand and how each successive variation of the core Hardtop moves the company from its origins. Some models, like the Countryman, are not exactly well received but fans of Mini design buy them in droves anyway. Some, like the Coupe and Paceman, are so lame that even the public can pick up their reek of desperation. What hasn’t changed over all these years is the Hardtop itself. It underwent a refresh in 2007, but for all intents and purposes, this is the same car we’ve seen for 13 years. While it seems like Mini has been resting on its laurels in the case of its once bread-and-butter model, they actually have been looking forward to figure out the Hardtop’s successor. Today, Mini released the first pictures of its Vision concept car, and it is a surprisingly good, modern take on the classic Mini coupe.
Initial reaction: it looks a little pudgy, especially in the front 3/4 view. Maybe its the fender flares that are visually joined by the grey strip running under the doors, or the grille that looks suspiciously similar to the Jaguar F-Type. It could be the weird LED surrounds on the enlarged headlights. In the full-on front view, the greenhouse doesn’t look quite wide enough. It may seem like I have a lot of gripes with the exterior, but on the whole I rather like the way Mini has interpreted the sheetmetal. Minor visual missteps aside, it still looks like what people consider a Mini to be. It looks unusually large in the concept drawings, but once it’s shown in the flesh, I’m positive that the Vision design will be more appealing when its proportions can be more accurately evaluated.
The cockpit of the car is pretty much the exact opposite of the evolutionary exterior. It’s full on disco insanity inside, and aside from the infotainment screen that seems to be tracking submarines and side straps that scream “LOOK AT HOW BRITISH I AM!”, it’s pretty cool. I can’t explain why, but I am enamored with the hundreds of floor and dash lighting elements that populate the interior. Mini has listened to its customers for a change and disposed of all the stupid switchgear that infects the entire Mini range. The concept seats that will never make it to the production model are aggressively bolstered and make it seem like the Vision is meant to corner like a bastard.
For the last few years, Mini has mistakenly attempted to revitalize their brand by offering more and more models that drift away from the Hardtop that made Mini a 21st century powerhouse in the field of small, sporty FWD cars. The Vision concept proves that Mini didn’t have to wade into unfamiliar territory and get pushed back time and again to stay relevant, it only needed to refresh its best-selling model. No word as to when the Hardtop’s successor will bow, but Mini only needs to look at its sales figures to realize that “sooner” is a good jumping off point.