New third-generation MINI at 2013 Los Angeles Motor ShowThu, 21 Nov 2013
It's been a busy week for BMW's posh tot brand MINI. The third-generation of the modern MINI was unveiled in London and Oxford on Monday and within hours received simulatneous debuts in Tokyo and Los Angeles, too.
MSN Cars was at the event in LA and crowds gathered to hear the design team explain the changes on the new MINI hatchback. It's clear that the new design is evolutionary; there are precisely no risks with the styling of this three-door.
The surfacing of the new MINI is incredibly similar to previous models' and - at a glance - you could almost be forgiven for mistaking this for an R50 (first-generation) or R56 (second-gen). The clue is in the strong graphical elements of the design: the larger hexagonal grille and the over-stylised new lamps front and rear, which have wonderful LED beading details and have grown significantly in diameter.
This new MINI is considerably bigger, the wheelbase stretching out to swell interior space, but the overhangs are kept short for that pert MINI stance. This car premieres BMW's new front-wheel drive architecture and these underpinnings will also power the next BMW 1-Series family.
Step inside and the improvements are noticeable. The upright screen means you can still see out brilliantly (although, weirdly, they have now introduced a rear parking camera for the first time. On a supermini!) and there are numerous detail improvements to the ergonomics, too.
So the speedometer switches from its central berth in the middle of the dashboard to where it is on every other car: right in front of the driver. The electric window switches are now on the doors, where passengers want them, but MINI has kept some of the toggle switches and other cool details inside the cabin.
A range of new three-cylinder engines is one of the main talking points on the new MINI, shrinking the bad stuff - emissions and fuel consumption - but promising performance just as lively as previous models.
And MINI promises a slew of new technology onboard. You can order digital head-up displays for the first time and the connectivity is seriously improved, so those young fashionistas can stay socially plugged in no matter where they're driving. (Probably down London's hip Kings Road).
The new MINI goes on sale in spring 2014, priced from £15,300 for the Cooper and £18,650 for a Cooper S; picking the MINI Cooper D will cost you £16,450.
By Tim Pollard, managing editor, MSN Cars