News : Issi’s birthday chosen for MINI launch

Keith Adams

MINI Vision

MINI has announced that the launch date for the F56-generation model will be 18 November, 107 years after Sir Alec Issigonis was born in Smyrna, or Turkish Izmir as it’s now known. The company is playing up the significance of this date by passing on a world reveal at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show, instead favouring a concurrent launch at both the Tokyo and Los Angeles Motor Shows.

The new car, which replaces the current R56 in the showrooms from early next year, features styling cues, which will be previewed in the MINI Vision concept (above). Although MINI has yet to confirm much about the technical make-up of the British-built hatchback, its launch follows a large investment at the company’s Cowley factory – although production will also be topped up in Holland.

You’ve already seen how the F56 looks, thanks both to the Vision concept and the series of long-lens scoop images that surfaced in June. The overall shape of the MINI will change little, other than it being more aerodynamic, but the detailing will be brought up to date with many of the features that we first saw unveiled in the Rocketman concept, and further defined in the Vision. It brings the MINI up to date, without – hopefully – losing the character of the current car, which was set back in 2001 with the launch of the original R50.

The new car will be powered by a sweet-revving 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, which will also find its way into the BMW 1-Series range at a later date – and it will also be underpinned by the same UKL1 platform, meaning BMW’s entry-level model and MINI will both be front-wheel drive. How the purists on both sides of the fence will take that is anyone’s guess – but this sea change in BMW’s thinking is necessary in order to maintain its future profitability.

As well as the move to three-cylinder petrol power, another change in philosophy will be the dropping of the central speedometer, which most MINI owners don’t use anyway. The circular central instrumentation will be reserved for sat-nav, in-car entertainment, and other driver systems.

Our understanding is that the F56 will be priced from around £14,000. That means we’ll be seeing the end – at launch anyway – of the First model, with the range starting where the One currently resides. The Cooper is a bit more expensive, costing around £15,000, but comes with more equipment as standard, with the Cooper S, which will probably retain the current 1.6-litre turbo, coming in at around £18,000. The diesel Cooper D could cost around £16,000.

Model expansion will be the name of the game, with the F56 spawning a five-door version, followed by the Clubman (and presumably Clubvan) version, with Paceman, Countryman, roadster and possibly a crossover Mini-MPV following on from that. What we’re hoping to see at AROnline, though, is a smaller-sized entry-level MINI, perhaps in the spirit of the Rocketman, rather than ever-larger versions, such as the Paceman and Countryman.

MINI Vision rear

Keith Adams


  1. I have a feeling that Issigonis would have hated the BMW Mini, which symbolises just about everything he despised about vehicle design.
    Another cynical piece of marketing by BMW

  2. Are you saying he is wrong in that statement Keith? Or that we shouldn’t criticise the bloated parody because they nail it together in Cowley, for the time being? I for one think he is dead on. This is a cynical and frankly insulting piece of spin by BMW to try and suggest that the Bini has something beyond name and styling cues to do with Alex’s mini.

  3. I’m sure Issigonis would have hated the BMW MINI, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he would be right and BMW wrong…

  4. I’m no Issigonis apologist, in fact I’ve always thought that his blind obsession with function over form was one of the main reasons that BL / Leyland / Austin /Morris got into such a mess.
    However, to associate him with the current Mini is ridiculous.

  5. I think it’s a nod to an engineer who did great things, and had it not been for his vision, the current and future MINI (and yes, British jobs) would not have happened.

    Persnally I am happy they will acknowledge that.

    Couldn’t. Not. Post!

  6. It was just a question of time that BMW had to give up the luxury of building two separate platforms for Mini and 1 series, some of the unique engineering of the Mini will be lost. Most potential customers will not mind this though. In a way it seems to me as if the car industry is moving into a direction where the US car industry was in the 50s: Mechanical specification mattered hardly for mass-produced cars, but styling – selling emotions – was all about. For people with interest in engineering, like me, this is a sad move, but for most buyers, who just want to use the car, the luxury of having a multitude of cars with different style but same capabilities on hand surely outweighs this.

    Part of the downfall of Issigonis’ designs at BMC was the engineering. Even if cars looked very similar (Maxi, 1800, 3 litre), they hardly shared a mechanical part, as he insisted on specifying everything specifically for each application. Today this would be the other way round surely…

  7. I agree, Issi would have loathed the new MINI, for one thing it ain’t Mini, and it is too luxurious compared to the type of cars he designed, I think minimalist interiors is a correct term.

    As an owner of a BINI, the countryman and an original Mini a 45, I feel i am more able to make a comment that many others that just slag off things for the sake of slagging it off.

    The old mini was uncomfortable, noisy, no room in the back, and teh boot space was non existent, but it was a great car, I loved it, it went, and went and went, and never let me down, i did 70,000+ miles in three and a bit years, it was still on the original tyres when i traded it in.

    I loved the large rimmed steering wheel, the go kart like grip, and the swift pull away, yes it was quick, it did get a bit throaty once it was near 80, and you did need ear plugs but I loved it.

    A quick story, me and my then partner (RIP) went from a small town in Suffolk to Great Yarmouth, around 35 miles, and a couple i hated but were friends of my partner, invited themselves, so I offered to drive 🙂 .

    I made sure that i drove that car like i stole it, and with them being in the back teh ride was not that good, they never invited themselves again, and i got a bit of an ear bashing once we got home, but we both did laugh about it.

    ANYWAY, back to the Countryman, it is uncomfortable, the run flat tyres along with the extremely stiff suspension set up make the car horrid to drive on anything other than dead flat roads, the massive speedo in the centre is a novelty, nothing more, the retro toggle switches for the windows are in my opinion a very dangerous position, you have to hunt for them, and then look, taking your eyes away from the road.

    The auto box on the Countryman is the worst auto box i have ever driven, it hates to change up and i generally flick the paddles to make it go up, it regularly goes upto and beyond 3000 revs before it decides to do anything, and getting it into 6th when on the main roads is like a combat mission.

    If i was offered a new MINI or my old 45, I would have the new MINI, sell it and buy back my old 45, but I wouldn’t drive it, it would cripple my already destroyed back.

    The BINI range is too much, I think this report says it all.

  8. Jagboy, a Mini 45 would have been made in 2004, a full 4 years after the last left the line. Care to elaborate?

  9. I think Issigonis was a flawed genious, yes he gave us the original mini which was a revolution in post war Britain, especially in terms of the overall package.

    He was against all the added extras in cars- radios etc, i preferred Moulton as an engineer.

    Im not getting drawn into the BMW cynical advertising arguments, im bored of it.

  10. The “Bini” is inspired by the original but has no other similarity, why would it? If you look at the Fiat 500 and the VW Beetle they are inspired by the originals but have been updated for todays demands and like the mini if they had not been updated they wouldn’t sell.
    Sadly what you think the original engineer / designer would think hardly matters.
    I wonder if the Germans and Italians have this debate about the Beetle and Fiat 500?

  11. It´s design is typical for BMW! They have never changed something in the design of the BMW´s and now they will do the same with Mini. It is only a boring evolution, but BMW will take so much time for such evolutions that the customer will have very much time to change their mind of a good looking car!
    You like it or you hate it!

  12. Keith,

    It is certainly a record, one post and we’re off…

    Of course Issigonis would’ve hated the MINI, but then he hated virtually every car before he died…

    He was a flawed genius, but then everyone who has read any of the books can see that.

    I am personally looking forward to the new car as I want to see what it’s like, and also because I’ve owned every generation since 2001 (I did also own a Mini and tried to buy a new one, but the Rover Dealer I went to couldn’t be arsed to offer me a test drive). The same can’t be said for the Fabia knock-off…

    Anyway, the three cylinder engine also is intriguing and it will be interesting to see if BMW can make it acceptable.

    If I do go for a MINI again, I think I’ll keep it simple, I’ve done tarted up route and played the price.

    Btw, I heartly agree with the last posting, but then I’m not English….

  13. I’m not a great fan of BMW as many on this site will be aware but a bit of nostalgia and connection from BMW to the original Mini does no offend me. They are clearly celebrating Alec’s idea – soluting the original concept rather than trying to kid anyone that the two actual vehicles are in some way related.
    The Bini has in some ways a much easier task in the showroom than Alec’s original. Admittedly, it has some competition from the Fiat 600 and Citroen DS3 but other than that – there is nothing as ‘original’ or ‘different’ out there at all. The competition consist entirely of blobs – whether made by Skoda, VW, Peugeot, Fiat, Kia or anyone else. Even cars that set out to be ‘different’ get ruined by the interiors – the DS3 to name but one. Love it or hate it – the Bini is different both inside and out. The designers were prepared to put their head above the parapet – to put there money where their mouth was and ‘go for it’. The complete reverse of VW who palm us off with utter mediocrity (in the design sense) of the extraordinarily boring UP! (And actually everything else they make).
    It was much harder times for Alec’s car – Triumph had the ‘chassis born’ and very individual Herald. Ford had the strange looking Anglia with reverse slope rear window whilst VW had it’s stalwart Beetle – a more individual car it would be hard to imagine. By the early 60’s Hillman had the Imp – another individual shape with the engine the ‘wrong end’ (although the right end for me!).
    Personally I revere ‘out of the box thinking’ and despise mediocrity. Both Minis achieved this – in different times and different climates. Long live the Bini!

  14. Alec would have probably produced a larger version of the car, left the gearbox in the sump, and dont bother styling it. He could have given it a new name to reflect its size – maxi??

  15. I read in Auto Express yesterday that the roadster presumably because it’s pointless, looking barely any different to the cabriolet but even less practical. Consequently I have seen more MG6s on the road (4 in case anybody’s wondering) than the roadster.

    Sharing a platform with the next 1 series BMW is no bad thing. Even in its current rear wheel drive guise BMW engineers have made a car that is more space efficient than their MINI counterparts!

  16. Interesting article linked below on the future plans of MINI’s UKL1 platform sharing from Autocar.

    How BMW and Mini will sell a million cars per year off one platform.

    Could Mini have survived to a third-generation model without the involvement of BMW?
    There are cold-eyed City analysts who will tell you that although Mini made a profit on every car it sold — often quite a healthy profit — it probably did not fully pay back the big industrial investment.
    Indeed, until the launch of the Countryman, Mini was only selling just over 200,000 cars a year across five model lines. Could BMW have sensibly invested in a new platform, new tooling and a range of five models on sales of 200k? Probably not. The Countryman helped the case for Mini by adding 100,000 sales a year.

  17. MINI’s new engines are part of BMW future modular engine strategy, which sees all engines based on the same individual 500cc cylinder.

    The all-new, BMW 1.5-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged engine will find its way under the bonnet of next year’s new MINI, the new front-drive BMW family and, it’s rumoured, today’s rear-drive 1-series and 3-series models.

    Codenamed B38 (petrol) and B37 (diesel), it will come in petrol and diesel forms and is expected to be between five and 15 per cent more economical than BMW’s current N20 four-cylinder engines.

    Built on an alloy block, the engine gets Valvetronic variable valve timing, a single turbo, 11.0:1 compression ratio and a longer stroke than the N20. It has been engineered as part of BMW future modular engine strategy, which sees all engines based on the same individual 500cc cylinder.

  18. Very interesting Martin @24 thank you. Do you think the three cylinder motor will ever see light in a BMW motorbike? Triumph have made a name for them self with some stonking three cylinder motors, so much so that 2 or 3 others are starting to market them.

  19. Phil@22
    Your experience of the Bini Coupe may not be typical – and indeed mine might’n be either. I am always intrigued when travelling the country that the popularity of a certain model appears to depend on three things – affluence, the manufacturer’s location and the quality and success of the main dealer.
    Many years ago, when I had a stint at Vauxhall in Luton learning how to become a Parts Department Manager, (I never did – it wasn’t for me) it seemed to me that about 90% of the cars in the area were indeed Vauxhalls. For many years (some time ago now) we had in our area the country’s most successful Hyundai dealer – anyone visiting would have thought this manufacturer was super successful and probably the most popular in the UK. Today, we must have more Honda Civics per square mile than any other town in GB – yet when I go to other towns there is a smattering for sure – but nothing like here. In our area (I do get to the point in the end!) the Bini coupe is very popular – but then, the Bini dealership is owned by a group that has developed from a Porsche specialist years ago and now includes BMW, Ferrari and Maserati.
    As a nation we are much more mobile than we were even 30 years ago and to some extent this fact dilutes my point – but there is still a significant percentage of buyers influenced by factors other than those to do with the car itself – in my view. For this reason (in part perhaps?) I know of at least five Bini Coupes in and around the small Wiltshire market town where I live.

  20. Oh Bini. Bini. Please? It’s fucking Mini.

    Why call it Bini? It’s just fucking stupid.

    Sorry. Fed up with people calling it by the name it’s NOT been given.

    There, better.

  21. Further proof if needed, that BMW are the best custodians for the brand. Not only has the brand gone from strength to strength, but they demonstrate a respect for the brand heritage that few other car manufacturers can match. Personally I hope that the F56 looks like the vision concept, as it moves the design on and keeps the brand fresh.

    Great to see more support for BMW and their investments in Cowley and Hams Hall. A true anglo german success story.

  22. @29 Yes to them MINI was just a brand, but obtaining that brand meant the asset-stripping and dumping of the UK’s last indigenous volume car manufacturer. Was the a price worth paying? If being a custodian of the brand means sticking a MINI badge on a lardy pastiche of a truly innovative car then they can stick their custodianship. I’d love a developer of the disappeared Rover R30 platform to run a ruler over BMW’s new small car platform – I bet there will be some startling similarities – another Rover write-down (to “PROVE” Rover are a hopeless case) that will make BMW a fortune?

  23. @30
    The various British owners of BL/Rover did a pretty good job of asset-stripping before BMW took over…..Cowley for instance is a fraction of the size it was due to BAe’s property development arm Arlington Securities which saw the historic buildings speedily razed to the ground for short term profit and replaced with ‘Retail Parks’ so that no trace of Cowley North or South remain today….which MINI Plant Oxford could have expanded into.

  24. @30

    To be fair BMW had the vision to see that MINI could really be something, I think all of us would recognise that by that time there was little credibilitiy left in the Rover and MG brands. They understood what people wanted to buy and gave it to them, and i. Doing so have protected many british jobs as well as creating fine fcailities at Hams Hall.

    Wen you see how Renault are sturggling with thei range of cars, which would have been the natural competitor to Rover, you can see why they decided not to take those brands any further forward.

    BMW and SAIC are some best things that have happened to the british car industry in the last ten years, so why are there so many detractors?

  25. Tell people things are great and sheep (people) will think it must be. Like the iphone. Its shit.

  26. I wish the new MINI every success. They need to expand the range that’s for sure. A five door would be good but should have some styling clues from ADO16. I hope they introduce a Riley version with a boot for Middle East, N America and China where booted cars sell. Riley can add walnut trim and leather to the mix – a credible small luxury car in the mould of the Riley Elf and Riley 1300. I also think the 1 series takes BMW too down market. BMW 3 series is where the brand should start. I would reintroduce Triumph using the Dolomite name and Spitfire for the convertible version.

  27. Ok will not put new gasoline(100 octane)on fire about the MINI vs. Mini discussion, but just one thing….anyone noticed that the Vision reminds (at least me, or also someone else) on the NISSAN FIgaro????
    at least in the front
    hmmm one expect that the MINI is partialy a hommage to the Mini, not to a Nissan???

  28. A reasonably good looking update of the MINI, but tucked away in the article is something I’ve long feared; BMW is making a FWD car, sacrilege. I’m also not convinced by three cylinders. On the plus side at least they’re not fobbing us off with a Chrysler engine again.

    The whole original mini comparison thing just leaves me cold, after 13 years I’m pretty happy with MINI’s place in the world. Harking back to the intentions of Issigonis is like asking what Harley Earl would make of today’s Cadillacs. For better or worse the minimalism (and the enormous fins) of ’59 are gone forever.

  29. @37 No problem.

    SAIC now own MG, and also have a design base in the UK. Whilst their factory currently only runs low volumes it has the potential to do much more if demand is there, but the fact that British designers are now involved in designing cars for one of the largest car markets in the world is a real achievement and should recieve more coverage.

    All this information is already out there, I am surprised you didn’t know this.

  30. The Nissan Figaro comparison is a fair one, although I suspect Nissan was trying to crib generic ’50s British car design. @43 I’d really like to see a MINI Countryman next to a Maxi or a landcrab, it’s true spiritual successor as a giant ugly Mini.

  31. Brian@27

    I would think that Bini simply serves to identify the BMW Mini as apposed to the BL Mini – after all this website is concerned with both and some marker is needed in both verbal and written comunication?
    Certainly not worth getting up set about and using foul language surely?

  32. @ bangernomic gav
    at first I want to take a point that the figaro was a kind of hommage to the Mini, and beeing the new MINI vision really reminding me of the Figaro, I was tempted to tell that the MINI Vision take a step further in reviving the vintage Mini style…. is not a homage, but a homage to a homage to the Mini….and i’m talking about the design
    but someone will tell then that im one of those that hate the MINI….
    and i dont love that car but try to be oblective

  33. Interesting comparisons to the Nissan Figaro.

    Japan had a bit of a retro craze in the 90s. Coincidentally the late run of the original Mini, and the MG RV8 sold very well to Japanese customers.

    This model was a homage to the Datsun Fairlady sports cars of the late 50s/early 60s.

    Upright grilles and round headlights were of the time, and in fairness may have been inspired by Triumphs, Alfa Romeos and other UK/European manufacturers.

    The Be-1 and Pao may have been nods to the Mini, although the S-Cargo was said to have been inspired by the 2CV (even the name is a subtle hint).

  34. A front wheel drive BMW in the btcc?That would stop them spinning when they are being over taken.
    Anyway the new mini will sell like hot cakes and that is all that matters.

  35. Indeed Issi would have hated it. Properly developed, well made, actually aligned with what the car buying public want and carefully costed to be commercially succesful. To cap it all there isnt a Deluxe or Super version either. When will the deluded beards understand, the world doesnt want a stripped out, fragile cars anymore. Even India spurned the Tata Nano.

  36. @49, You have a fixation with this beard thing. If this car was stripped out it would sell just as well,most of the buyers are oh look at me i have a MINI,no hairdresser worth their salt or a kebab shop would be without one.

    The shit inside dont matter for the vast majority of the buyers anymore than where the oil goes.

    Advertise, tell everyone the car is great throw a Z lister in one with a cooter like a roofers nail bag and hey presto! most of the buying public will buy on that strength alone. It has nothing to do with what people want.

  37. I have a beard! There I’ve admitted it!
    Probably disentitled to comment but for what it’s worth:
    @48 the spinning BMW rear drive is the fault of the driver – not the car.
    @49 the mini was well-made for its era – you can’t compare build quality from two cars 50 years apart – that’s like the saying the clutch in a Model T was rubbish compared with a new Focus.
    The mini sold worldwide, was a huge success and won just about every competition it entered – how are you defining “what the car buying public wanted?”
    What is it with so many of you that you have to knock seven bells out of anything old, BMC or Leyland?

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