the mini family is growing
The MINI Concept Aceman is launching a electric, a five-seat city crossover that will soon be in production. The car not only signals a new model for the British-born car brand, but also the start of a whole new generation of models for the family. It features a new design language focused on reduction, modernity, eco-friendly choices, and the harmonious yet dynamic blend of the digital and the physical.
‘We are creating a whole new MINI family. The two bookends will be the original icon, the Hatch, and the MINI Countryman, which will increase in size slightly within the next generation. We have identified a gap between these two products. This is the Aceman Concept. As the youngest member of the family, we saw the design as a chance to expand the brand in terms of form language, modernity, etc.‘ begins Oliver Heilmer, Head of MINI Design, in an interview with designboom ahead of the launch of the MINI Aceman concept.
MINI Concept Aceman launches new design language focused on downsizing, modernity and eco-friendly choices
All images courtesy of BMW Group
a refined exterior design
‘The vehicle is an urban crossover, so it is slightly taller and a bit longer than our other models. However, it retains the classic MINI proportions: the wheels in the bends, very short overhangs and the contrast between the roof, the greenhouse and the body.” continues Oliver Heilmer, “the facade presents a very focused approach. The arrangement of the headlights in relation to the grille is typical MINI, but the outline of the lights is then completely different. The grille has a super clean appearance with only a thin frame and the rest is identical to the body color. It is the most iconic MINI attribute that has been reinterpreted for the Aceman Concept. Its design still allows it to be recognized from afar as a MINI.‘
The crossover’s progressive proportions give the four-door, five-seat MINI more practicality with a length of 4.05m, a width of 1.99m and a height of 1.59m. Its two-compartment design is divided by the British Racing Green roof and rack contrasting with the wrap-around window and minimal bodywork below, which shimmers in color from light turquoise to gold. A deliberate use of defined contours and clear edges keeps the design to a minimum. The geometrically sculpted bonnet and wheel arches, along with the tapered lines, then add dynamism to the familiar MINI shape.
A myriad of expressive details reveal the car’s urban and adventurous dual personality
The much-loved British character of the MINI remains, as the union jack is reinterpreted in the design of the headlights and the roof rack. A myriad of expressive details reveal the car’s urban and adventurous dual personality. The horizontal underride protection and dark green cladding on the door and rear, the muscular gaiters and the roof rack add to its character. The sense of modernity is illustrated by refinement with flush door handles, glazed surfaces and 20-inch navy wheels dressed in a six-spoke graphic design.
‘It all starts as soon as we define the character of the car. Initially we jumped very far into the future with the form language, proportions and details, then refined it to the point where the car became instantly recognizable as a MINI. The design represents a big step towards modernity,‘ confirms the creator.
Progressive crossover proportions give the four-door, five-seater MINI more practicality
A REDUCTION IN INTERIOR DESIGN
‘Our designers had so much fun with the interior. The concept was a chance to use different materials. We wanted to create a friendly and welcoming interior, so tactile experiences were essential. Materials with different textures and technology combine in unusual and unique ways that only MINI can do. The seats, for example, merge print and stitching. The result looks like art,‘ explains Oliver.
The concept of “only MINI can do” materials is evident inside the Aceman Concept. The cabin itself is flooded with light from the wrap-around window and panoramic roof, made even more spacious by the ingenious transparent, floating center console and large open areas in the doors and behind the streamlined dashboard. Adorning it, a discreet light gray and slightly bluish textile covers the door handles and extends over the entire dashboard. The front seats and the rear bench combine different fabrics on the bodywork and the headrest. Flat knit, velor pile and waffle weave give the seats a three-dimensional feel while the tops add color with their print.
The cabin is flooded with light from the wrap-around window and panoramic roof
The dashboard, upholstered in a discreetly colored recycled polyester fabric, highlights the reduction rigorously applied to the interior design. Everything is reduced to the essentials, much like Alec Issigonis’ original MINI. A steering wheel covered in dark green velor and a large circular OLED screen are the only features of the dashboard. The circular display serves as a new center of experience, bringing together all the functions of an instrument cluster. A newly integrated rocker bar sits below, with a rotary control or rocker switch for the parking brake, gear selector, ignition, experience mode selector and volume control. The balance between analog and digital continues as the display can be extended beyond the boundaries of the screen through projections on the dashboard.
‘Our design provides visual relief from other interiors where the physical screen extends from pillar to pillar and is surrounded by numerous switches. We focused on three elements: the circular display, the toggle bar, and the clean dashboard. We naturally arrived at the same number of elements – five – in the rocker bar as in the 1950s design. The ignition key returns and sits in the center of the bar. It helps to build the relationship between the driver and the car. We all need these tactile experiences,‘ notes the designer.
The circular display serves as a new center of experience, bringing together all the functions of an instrument cluster
DIGITAL EXTENSION OF USER EXPERIENCES
‘We wanted the interior to be super clean – and technical innovation was the catalyst for that. It was important to showcase the emotional layer of digitization beyond the OLED screen. The screen is a canvas, as is the dashboard. The customer can then change the look of the dashboard to suit their mood. It’s similar to a mobile device and how a change in background creates an entirely different phone. This is what we want to achieve with the Aceman Concept. We believe in the digital possibilities of personalization of the future. It will keep your MINI cool,‘ concludes Oliver Heilmer, Head of MINI Design, to launch the Aceman Concept.
Dashboard shy technology allows for an overall user experience that is consistent in concept. Three dynamic and fun “Experience Modes” can be selected by the driver and passengers: Customizable Personal Mode, Pop-up Navigation Mode and Vivid Mode for stationery interactions with the OLED display. The trio of modes immerse users in different interiors of expressive projections of color, light, sound, and moving images. The interaction between the car and users extends from the exterior to the interior, welcoming users with a bright display on the grille as well as a flick of the headlights, and a light carpet on the inside. doors open to a greeting message on the circular screen. These strengthen the personal relationship between people and MINIs in the future.