This is the new, new Mini – the third generation of BMW’s modern take on the 60s British classic. It’s a car that the company is hoping will be a huge hit, because while the design is evolutionary, to say the least, there’s also a big jump forward in the technology on offer.
You’ll recognise the style and form instantly. This could only ever be a Mini, with its big puppy-dog lamps, the blacked-out pillars and floating, contrast roofline.
What you might not instantly notice is that it's the new model. It’s 98mm longer and 44mm wider than before, with a longer wheelbase. The gives it a squatter, slightly fatter aesthetic on the road and liberates a – much needed – extra 51 litres of boot space. Which means you might actually get a full-sized suitcase in there now. But it does, at first glance, look very similar to the car it replaces.
The first thing you’ll notice about the new Mini on the road are the LED running lamp rings, that wrap around the outer circumference of the lamps. The details – notably the lights – are much bigger than before. This is particularly evident at the front, where the car appears more pug-nosed, with a longer front overhang than before.
However, nothing Mini’s design team has done is really going to put you off the car if you liked the previous model, nor done anything to turn you on to it if it’s not your cup of tea. Inside is a slightly different story though, and it’s here that the big car tech feature-set becomes apparent.
Leaning heavily on the technology inside recent BMWs, the new Mini's huge centre speedometer that’s dominated the last two generations of Mini has gone. The space it’s left is replaced by a TFT display, that in its largest form measures 8.8 inches in diameter.
Defining the still circular space it sits in is a coloured LED ring, which changes colour depending on what function you select on the system. And like a BMW, you control all of the functions through an iDrive style controller located low down behind the gear knob.
It’s not just this iDrive style system the new Mini offers though. You can have parking cameras, head-up displays, emergency call assist and something called Mini Connected XL and Real Time Traffic info. The last two in that list, according to Mini, will assist you throughout your travel, including the ability to map out fastest or more fuel efficient routes, check events, the weather and even find you a place to park at your destination.
You’ll get a completely new engine in the new Mini, too. The really interesting one being the standard Cooper, which soaks up the majority of sales. This car now comes with a 3-cylinder turbo petrol engine, producing 136bhp. The Cooper S unit, meanwhile, is "upsized" to a new 2.0 litre turbo that produces 192bhp. There’s a diesel too.
As ever, you’re able to make your Mini personalised: the white, black or body-coloured roof is now a no-cost option and stripes are still on the agenda, as is a host of wheel designs, body colours, mirror caps and graphic decals.
The more things change, the more they stay the same it seems. One other thing that Mini promises hasn’t changed is that the car will still be a hoot to drive, something we’ll hopefully be able to judge for ourselves when we get behind the wheel some time early in the new year. It is a 2014 model, after all, so we'll be sure to test its worth in its representative year.