(Pocket-lint) – Mini has pulled the covers from its latest concept, the Mini Concept Aceman. This isn’t some pie in the sky concept, the Aceman will go into production and according its designer – Oliver Heilmer – it’s pretty close to the model we’re expecting on the roads in 2024.
The Mini Concept Aceman slots into the middle of the Mini family, designed to sit above the Hatch and below the Countryman in terms of size. We asked Heilmer if there was any relation to the Paceman, which similarly sat in this middle position with a crossover design and practically the same name, but he asserted that it was entirely different.
The Acemen is a new design for Mini and it showcases the future direction that Mini will take. There is, as you’d expect, plenty of cues from Mini’s heritage, with the use of classic British green for the roof and some interior elements to reflect the glory days of British racing,
The design goes further, with creases on the exterior designed to imitate the weld seams from the classic Mini, a liberal use of Union Jack flag motifs, to evoke memories of the Swinging Sixties – and that’s really where Mini is heading: a revolution for the brand, to move forward into a greener future.
The Aceman is designed as an all-electric model, with Mini aiming to switch entirely to electric by 2030, but also aiming to reduce the overall impact of the vehicle by ditching things like leather and chrome and instead using recycled and sustainable materials.
The interior shows up the benefits of an electric powertrain, with a spacious cabin. It has been minimalised, reducing the interior interface to just the central dial and row of toggle switches.
Again, while this is seen in the current Mini cars, it’s also a reflection of the original Mini from the 1960s, and here the toggle switches control the parking brake, gear selection, the Experience Mode and volume.
There’s a new central OLED display, driven by Android, but which Mini say is based on the current system (which is in turn based on BMW’s system). In the concept there’s no real sign of the practical day-to-day functionality it might present, instead focusing on the Experience Modes instead. This is a concept, after all.
To expand beyond the limitations of the display, Mini is also using projection technology in this concept to beam graphics and information onto the dash. This can, for example, show an extended map across the dash of the car which looks great, but in reality, probably isn’t very practical when you’re actually driving.
There’s a big play to digital customisation through these systems, pairing up with the sound system for the car – by which we mean the exterior sound system rather than the interior – and reflected through graphics on the exterior of the car too.
Some of this remains in concept land and is a bit of fun – like the digital graphics running across the front of the car and through the headlights, but Mini says that in theory, it’s possible to have customisable rear light patterns. Mini already offers the Union Jack pattern on its current car – and the suggestion here is that you could turn that on if you want it or turn it off.
Given that BMW has just opened up a range of subscription options such as heated seats, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Union Jack rear lights as a subscription option on a future Mini car.
From the knitted interior to the sporty Union Jack roof rack, there’s plenty to absorb visually on the Mini Concept Aceman. The production model will be narrower, the wheels will be a little smaller, but much of what you see is likely to follow through into the car that rolls off the assembly line in 2024.
Designed as a premium urban crossover, there’s no word on the range or performance of the Mini Aceman, or on the price – but we expect to hear a lot more through 2023.
Writing by Chris Hall.