Mini design chief Oliver Heilmer said his team will investigate the scope for new models beyond the five so-called ‘superheroes’, which constitute today the range, which will be completed in 2019 with the arrival of the Mini EV.
Even if the Mini is committed to this strategy for the medium term, Heilmer considers it essential to explore other options: “I’m not saying that is wrong, but it’s good to ask if it is going to last.”
Heilmer is not a stranger to explore Mini changes, after having helped to produce the virtual body, changes shown at the 2000 Paris motor show (below), including a pick-up truck, a convertible, and the Clubman. For this exploration, Heilmer going to use the same thought process that made the original Mini of 1959.
He said: “The first Mini was built from a need. I would like to understand which are the needs in the next five to six years. We want to look at clients who are 13, 14, 15 years. What is their aesthetic approach? Obviously, it is influenced by smartphone. But if we understand correctly, we are able to continue this in the future.”
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Heilmer has no intention of abandoning the Mini’s distinctive design features, such as the floating roof and wheel in each corner position. Even if he agrees that these can be “limiting and challenging,” he said, “I like to deal with this challenge. You need to be experimental, but can not lose what it is.”
For the next generation of the Mini hatch, with a deadline of 2021, Heilmer will try to reduce the excessive front overhang of the current model. In the next period, his team will have to work on the Mini EV. He said: “it’s based on the three-door hatch. We are looking at various design elements, including the concept of color and new wheels, but not decided yet.” Heilmer also said that the company is still looking at the aerodynamics of the car, sills and air curtains: “We need to see if it works. Does not work on all cars.”
Yet to be confirmed is the third generation of the Mini GP, which was revealed as a concept at the Frankfurt motor show last month. “There is a big jump with this GP,” Heilmer said. It works on a wider track, pushing the unusual vertical vane wing extensions, which are yet to be tested. “We’re getting feedback,” he said.