Everything we’ve seen from the Mini brand since BMW relaunched it in 2001 has looked like, well, a Mini. Even the wilder concepts have kept one foot gently in the past, but this new ‘Vision Urbanaut’ show car casts all that off in favour of looking to the future.
Aside from the usual round headlights, which sit under a milled aluminium surface at the front, all traces of the original Mini are gone. Instead, we have a relatively compact minivan-like creation, with unusual hinged windscreen Mini calls a ‘Street Balcony’. Obviously.
The lights at the rear are under the same perforated aluminium stuff. This “multicolour dynamic matrix” changes depending on the driving mode in use and also which of the three ‘Mini moments’ has been selected by the occupants.
There’s the relaxing ‘Chill’ setting with its lounge-spec seat arrangement and soft lighting, ‘Vibe’, which opens the side door and windows while projecting a graphic equaliser onto various surfaces including the wheels (for…reasons), and finally Wanderlust. This is the only one that can be used on the move, with either the driver in control or the car taking over.
Yep, it’s autonomous, and also fully electric, ticking all the necessary 2020 concept boxes. Mini hasn’t gone into details about its powertrain, merely noting the Urbanaut’s choice of propulsion opens up more freedom when it comes to designing the cabin.
Speaking of which, there’s an enormous amount of flexibility in the seating arrangements. The front seats can rotate 180 degrees, and it’s possible to lower the dashboard and turn it into a daybed. The rear part of the cabin is known as the ‘cosy corner’, with “various seating and lying positions” for the rear bench and a lighting hoop hidden under fabric trim.
As should be abundantly clear after reading all of that, the Urbanaut is one of those more fanciful concepts, rather than something with imminent production potential. However, bits and pieces of the car may find there way onto future Mini products.
Speaking to CT sister title Auto Express, Mini brand boss Bernd Körber said: “Some of the design elements integrated here, some items, trims language especially in the interior, which will be translated into real series cars in the next generation in 2023.”