The Mini brand today showed off its vision for the electric future with the Concept Aceman, a new crossover that will fit between the Mini Cooper and the Mini Countryman in size. With bold design and new tech, the Mini Concept Aceman advances the brand’s look without giving up on what makes it special.
The new MINI family is taking shape. The British brand presents the MINI Concept Aceman, an initial preview of its future model generation's new design. In this concept car we can see design-based and technological innovations from MINI that outline the brand-typical driving pleasure of the future. The first MINI crossover model for the premium small cars segment is striking, with purely electric drive, a clear and pared-back design language that has been dubbed "Charismatic Simplicity", a new digital interior space experience and a material concept which uses absolutely no leather or chrome.
In the next model generation the MINI Cooper in the iconic three-door body shape, which has been reinterpreted time and again over its entire 60-plus-year history, will be joined by a crossover model for the first time. "The MINI Concept Aceman provides an initial glimpse of a completely new vehicle, bridging the space between the MINI Cooper and the MINI Countryman in the model family's future," says Stefanie Wurst, Head of the MINI Brand. "This concept car reflects how MINI is reinventing itself for its all-electric future and what the brand stands for: an electrified go-kart feel, an immersive digital experience and a strong focus on a minimal environmental footprint."
The beginning of a new MINI design era
"The design language of the MINI Concept Aceman heralds the beginning of a new design era for MINI," explains Adrian van Hooydonk, Head of BMW Group Design. Design features typical of the MINI brand have always been unmistakable, Hooydonk goes on to say. "We are returning to these now, but at the same time consistently combining them innovative technology." With this approach we are redeveloping the MINI design icons, with all their analogue strengths, for the digital future.
Along with the clear and reduced exterior and interior design, the holistic user experience of light, movement, interaction and sound also combine to define this style. Surfaces constructed from knitted recycled textile with fresh colour contrasts combine with seamless digital controls with a new OLED display as the central interface. This all creates a unique interior experience that remains unmistakably MINI. The all-electric models of the next generation are also given an independent sound design for the first time, providing emotionally compelling drive sounds and an authentic background for the new Experience Modes.
Creative use of space reinterpreted
Everything about the appearance of MINI Concept Aceman expresses agility and a self-confident presence. This merges distinctive features of the brand's two most successful models, the MINI Cooper and the MINI Countryman, to create a modern interpretation of a crossover model.
"The purely electric vehicle concept means the design can again be geared more towards MINI's traditional basic values, in terms of the principle of using space creatively," says Oliver Heilmer, Head of MINI Design. "This creates models that take up little space on the road while offering even more comfort, more versatility and more emotion on the inside than ever before."
A functional two-box design with short overhangs creates the maximum of space for occupants and luggage on a minimal surface area. The MINI Concept Aceman has four doors and a large boot lid with interior seating for five.
It also has the proportions you would expect of the brand with an exterior length of 4.05 metres, a width of 1.99 metres and a height of 1.59 metres, all in a particularly contemporary form. The classic three-way division of body, all-round window graphics and roof is reinterpreted. A flush transition between the vehicle body and glass surfaces makes the most of the aerodynamic properties. The clear and reduced design of the MINI Concept Aceman completely dispenses with the chrome trim around the edges that was common in earlier model generations. Wide surrounds on the lower edge of the body, strongly contoured wheel arches, large wheels, a striking roof rack, and front and rear valance panels styled as an underride protection emphasise the solid all-round characteristics of a crossover model for urban driving fun.
Vehicle front with a striking magnetism and individual accents
The upright front of the MINI Concept Aceman strikingly announces its presence. The brand's iconic design features have been reinterpreted to reflect its crossover characteristics and purely electric drive. The radiator grille element at the centre of the vehicle front is surrounded by clear surfaces, the traditionally hexagonal outline having been further refined into an octagonal contour. The new design is accentuated by an illuminated surround. The LED contour lighting in a shade of light green provides a striking light signature both in daytime running lights and in night design.
The central grille element of the MINI Concept Aceman is completely closed. Matrix LED units are integrated in its upper section to create impressive lighting effects to welcome its occupants.
The continuous contour lighting of the daytime running light brings out its sense of independence. The contour of the lights follows through to the surfaces of the outer areas of the bonnet. This further accentuates their individual expression.
Clearly designed surfaces with clearly defined edges
Taking their cue from the bonnet, the wheel arches also feature flat and geometrically modelled surfaces. This, too, is an expression of the clarity in the new MINI design style. Precise edges also structure the body's tight surfaces. Combined with the MINI Concept Aceman's assertive proportions and upright front, this "edginess" signifies a progressive interpretation of the robustness and versatility characteristic of a crossover model.
A diagonal contour below the A-pillars sparks memories of the striking weld seam of the classic MINI. Surface modelling and lines create an exciting tapered effect between the front and rear wheel arches that give a dynamic expression to the side view of the MINI Concept Aceman. This intensively accentuates the powerful profile of the rear wheel arches. These are further defined by distinctive contour lines, the first of their kind on a MINI. Contour lines provide a lively play of light and shadow in the side view; a dynamic upward movement in the front area, an elongated progression and a steep downward swing. A matt green side skirt, more pronounced in the area of the doors, gives the vehicle an athletic appearance.
Characteristic elements with attention to detail and a typical MINI twist
The clear exterior surface design is combined with signature features that emphasise an attention to detail and at the same time boast a typical MINI twist. The oblong hole outline is a recurring element with many instances, including the door openers - integrated flush with the surface for the first time in a MINI - as well as the exterior mirror caps and the MINI logo in the lower door section. The design also features in numerous details in the interior. The equally distinctive Union Jack design, acknowledging the brand's British roots, is seen in both the rear light graphic and on the robust roof rack.
20-inch light-alloy wheels fill the MINI Concept Aceman's generously proportioned wheel arches. The triangular outline in the centre of the rim, giving the spokes visual depth and dynamism, is a special graphic feature which is generally only noticed on second glance.
Athletic shoulder line, powerful rear
Generously designed surfaces and horizontal lines give the rear of the MINI Concept Aceman a striking and modern appearance, clearly emphasising the vehicle's width. This effect is supported by a striking indentation at the transition between the body and the window graphics, which makes the most of the aerodynamic properties of the vehicle and lends it a pronounced, athletic shoulder line. In the rear perspective, this creates the cascading contour MINI is known for, gradually broadening towards the road. The dark roof spoiler and the glass surface of the rear window further reinforce this impression by visually receding into the background.
The distinctive vertical MINI rear lights provide a captivating contrast to the clear, horizontal surfaces. They also feature matrix LED units, as do the radiator grille element at the front of the vehicle and the interior of the headlights, allowing for different lighting scenarios depending on the situation. The versatile features of this crossover model are referenced by a wide, dark-coloured surround at the lower edge of the rear valence and the underride protection element integrated in the centre.
Expressive exterior colours for a lively vehicle character
The MINI Concept Aceman's youthful, lively character is underlined by an expressive paint finish for the body and a stylishly coordinated contrasting colour for the roof. The Icy Sunglow Green variant body paint, a light turquoise shade diving into gold, features a shade that comes through with varying levels of intensity depending on the light and the perspective. This means that it impressively tracks the subtle three-dimensionality of the surfaces and lines in the exterior. The MINI Concept Aceman roof is painted in traditional metallic British Racing Green. The dark green trim on the lower edge of the body and on the wheel arches, similar to the colour scheme on the roof, lend an attractive contrast to the light exterior colour. Splashes of neon green provide a lively effect of depth.
The roof rack has green fastening straps and an iridescent coating that creates a metallic sheen covering a wide colour spectrum of blue, turquoise, green and violet. Basic navy blue is combined with blue-grey painted spokes on the alloy wheels. The underride protection elements at the front and rear of the MINI Concept Aceman are in royal blue. The front and rear valences are also each fitted with two distinctive loudspeakers that draw the attention - not only acoustically but visually as well. The loudspeakers, which accompany the welcome scenario with a distinctive model-specific sound, feature an eye-catching pink-orange paint finish.
Interior: MINImalism redefined
The MINI Concept Aceman interior is also dominated by a reduced design with clear contours and carefully executed details. It combines innovative technology with newly interpreted, yet typical MINI design features.
The concept car's cockpit is consistently reduced to the bare essentials, just as the designer of the classic MINI had in mind in 1959. Alec Issigonis designed an interior which, in addition to the seats, steering wheel and gear lever, needed nothing more than a central round instrument and toggle switch bar to experience unrivalled driving pleasure.
"In the interior of the MINI Concept Aceman, we have concentrated on a simplistic appearance in combination with premium materials and welcoming colours. Digitisation enables us to make do with few operating elements and at the same time to maximise the experience in a way that is characteristic of MINI," explains Oliver Heilmer. "The entire design is all about offering occupants a holistic experience in the interior space."
Wide-open and gently curved surfaces in the area of the door panels and the dashboard give a generous feeling of space. The large panoramic glass roof of the MINI Concept Aceman provides an ambience flooded in light. Its glass surface is patterned by the transverse and diagonal struts of the roof rack, whose structure picks up on the Union Jack flag motif, reminding us of the brand's origins when gazing up at the sky from the interior.
The dashboard is a flat design element styled like a sound bar that extends across the entire width of the interior in front of the driver's and front passenger's seats. Its soft knitted textile surfaces create a modern and homey atmosphere in the MINI Concept Aceman interior. The dashboard is connected via a support structure which, like the roof rack, displays the Union Jack pattern, re-emphasising the harmony between exterior and interior design.
Central interface and toggle switch: typical MINI harmony in digital and analogue controls
The dashboard, extending particularly far into the interior in the central area, forms the perfect setting for the central interface, which combines all the functions of the instrument cluster and the on-board monitor as a round OLED display. True to its traditions, a toggle switch bar is set below the large screen. Touch control using state-of-the-art digitalisation and analogue functionality with physical switches are uniquely and typically combined in a way that is unmistakably MINI.
The redesigned toggle switches operate the parking brake, select gears, activate and deactivate the drive, select Experience Modes and adjust the audio system volume. Each toggle is individually designed as a rotary knob or toggle switch for the most intuitive operation.
Innovative user interface in the form of a circular OLED display
The distinctive MINI display and operating experience scales new heights with its reinterpretation of the familiar central interface. MINI is the world's first car manufacturer to present a circular OLED display that takes up the entire surface of the central interface. OLED technology gives the display a particularly high-quality appearance and can display strong contrasts and deep blacks. The user interface also features a completely new graphic display, a modern layout and attractively designed widgets. The display and control system in the production vehicle will be based on the latest generation of the MINI Operating System, which for the first time is built on an Android Open Source Project (AOSP) software stack. This allows for an unprecedented and particularly comprehensive expansion of digital features in the vehicle.
The display area that extends beyond the central interface is another highlight. Moving image projections can transfer the control system content to the entire dashboard, creating a unique digital experience extending right into the door panels. The projection opens up an infinite variety of representations - from a sharply outlined map to scattered images of clouds. The projection's colour scheme and lighting mood are accompanied by appropriate sound sequences.
Three new Experience Modes for a complete vehicle experience
Innovative Experience Modes generate new possibilities to individualise and personalise the driving experience in the interior of the MINI Concept Aceman. They combine specific displays and colour worlds, which are depicted on the central interface panel and through interior projection, and a coordinated sound stage.
The personal mode allows the user to transfer an image motif of their own free choice to the OLED display. This novel form of personalisation is complemented by a moving image projection on the dashboard which can, for example, show cloud formations, ocean waves and the shimmering surface of a swimming pool. The selected projection is accompanied by a suitable sound backdrop.
Pop-Up Mode in the MINI Concept Aceman will provide you with eventful navigation and some surprising moments. The system suggests appropriate navigation destinations based on a category selected by the user, shows the route on the OLED display and via projection onto the dashboard. For example, you can choose an attractive leisure activity in the "Adventures" category, a popular restaurant under "Tasty" or a currently active event location as a "Trending" destination. Specific sounds are played for each category to bring even more of a sense of anticipation to the experience ahead.
Vivid Mode enables an interactive design of the display area on the OLED display and the adjacent surfaces. This is an innovative entertainment function that can be used both during short breaks when stopping at traffic lights and while charging the high-voltage battery. Simply touch the touch display in the central interface to create coloured "letter bubbles" from the components of the "Aceman" lettering and move them left and right on the dashboard. The letters have their own movement algorithm and interact with each other in the projection by overlapping and forming fluid graphic shapes and patterns. The playful elements of Vivid Mode are underlined by experimental sounds whose rhythm constantly change with the interaction between user and vehicle.
Welcome scenario with the MINI Companion
The newly developed MINI Concept Aceman user experience offers a holistic experience of lighting and sound made possible by digital technology with a flowing transition between exterior and interior even before starting your journey. It intensifies the experience of the different states of the vehicle and the interaction with the occupants. The headlights and radiator grille element, central interface and projections work together in precisely orchestrated harmony.
The exterior light show includes the display of the MINI Companion as a sensor-based animation. As soon as someone approaches the MINI Concept Aceman, they are tracked by a cloud of light in the front of the vehicle that gets brighter as they get closer. At the same time, an interactive sound emanates from the exterior loudspeakers, the intensity linked to the distance between the vehicle and the user. When the vehicle is unlocked, the matrix LED units on the grille surface display a Union Jack graphic. At the same time, the surround of the grille element lights up and the LED matrix of the right headlamp gives a friendly wink. The light animation is accompanied by an unmistakable sound sequence. It consists of four tones, each representing a letter in the MINI brand name. This sequence is called an earcon, which serves as a fixed symbol for certain events or information, in the same way that a visual icon does.
When the door is opened, a colourful graphic image is projected onto the floor in the entry area. A corresponding radial "colour burst" of maximised pixels can be seen at the same time on the round display of the central interface, accompanied by a similarly multicoloured projection directed from the roof lining onto the dashboard and door panels. The welcome scenario is completed by the words "Hey Friend" on the display and a spherical sound unfolding, in which overlapping chattering voices and music sequences create the impression of a convivial meet-up, to be further developed on the coming drive in the MINI Concept Aceman.
Progressive colour and material design in the interior
The purist interior design is combined with a colour and material scheme specially developed for the MINI Concept Aceman. The ambience is enhanced by innovative, high-quality materials selected with a conscious eye on sustainability. Charming colour contrasts catch the eye on the minimalist door panels and in the dashboard area. There, the khaki green base colour for the background surfaces is combined with knitted textile perimeters made of light grey recycled polyester with a slight blue tinge and featuring precisely placed decorative seams.
The MINI Concept Aceman seats feature a discreet geometry with integrated headrests. Their materials as well as their colouring and graphic patterns come even more into focus. Seating surfaces have a lively, three-dimensional look achieved by a combination of textile flat knit, velvet velour and waffle weave, an over-dimensional houndstooth pattern and embroidered X and O graphics. The MINI Concept Aceman is innovative in demonstrating the great potential of textile surfaces for modern forms of design expression.
The relocation of the controls for the gear selector and parking brake creates extra free space between the driver and passenger seats. This space is put to use in the MINI Concept Aceman by a flexible centre console that extends, transparently and seemingly free-floating, into the rear area. The centre console surface offers the option to freely position storage compartments, a wireless charging station for the smartphone, cupholders or a myriad of other uses.
Consistently dispensing with chrome and leather
Chrome elements are completely dispensed with - not only in the exterior of the MINI Concept Aceman, but also inside. Instead, the dashboard support structure creates its own high-quality, individual highlight in the interior, with its iridescent coating matching the roof support for example.
The steering wheel of the MINI Concept Aceman, like the seats, door panels and all other interior surfaces, is also leather-free. The steering wheel rim is laminated with dark green velvet velour, giving a particularly pleasant feel. The multifunction buttons are integrated under backlit textile surfaces. The "Aceman" lettering and a robust strap form the six o'clock spoke of the steering wheel.