What It Is:The next-generation Mini Cooper hatchback, caught completely undisguised during what appears to be a photo shoot. Through its first two generations, the Mini Cooper has largely worn the same styling—something that doesn’t change much for this third-gen car.
Why It Matters: The hatchback sets the visual standard for the rest of the rides in Mini’s rapidly expanding lineup, and it also carries the torch for the fun-loving, chic brand. The new hatch’s design should eventually migrate in some form or another to the Cooper Coupe, Roadster, five-door Countryman, four-door Clubman, and the Paceman sometime down the road.
Platform: Given that these photos show the new three-door completely naked, we can finally speak to the car’s styling. (Our spy photographerspreviously caught Mini test mules in the wild, but they were heavily camouflaged.) The Cooper hatchback’s overall profile retains Mini’s classic proportions, but everything seems slightly taller, and the details get a mild, Rocketman-inspired update to keep things fresh. The headlights are rounder and canted further back, and inherit what appear to be LED or backlit light-tube accents. A new, larger grille—bisected by a solid plastic bumper element—also leans further back than before and dominates the front end, though the lower intake seems superfluous and suffers from fussy detailing.
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The taillights have grown to an almost-cartoonish scale and gain Paceman-like concentric reflector elements for more pizazz. Moving down the sides of the body, there is now a concave scallop between the front and rear fender openings, which themselves gain subtle dimpling along their circumference. The now-signature fender detail and turn-signal element has been restyled with a larger lamp and a more subdued “vent” opening. Even though the 2014 Mini Cooper doesn’t look all that different from the current model, it rides on an entirely new platform that will be shared with a new crop of small, front-drive BMWs. Yes, you read that right—front-drive BMWs.
Powertrains: The new Mini Cooper hatchback has some big changes in store under its stubby hood, where a new range of BMW-sourced, turbocharged three-cylinder engines replace today’s naturally aspirated and turbo fours. Output for the hottest triple will approach 200 horsepower. There will be both gasoline and diesel variants, and buyers again will be able to choose from among manual and automatic transmissions. A hybrid and electric Mini Cooper should join the lineup, as well.