The MINI Aceman will bring concept car styling to the EV crossover segment
MINI has begun testing its new Aceman, a new car in the firm’s portfolio designed to sit between the three-door MINI hatchback and the Countryman SUV. Due in 2024, the all-electric crossover will share its underpinnings with the upcoming MINI Hatch EV.
From these spy shots it’s clear the MINI Aceman will be toned down visually from the concept model shown earlier this year. However, we can already see plenty of stylistic elements taken from the concept and from MINI’s established design language.
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The production Aceman will use a similar shape of headlight to the concept, but don’t be fooled by the chrome rings around the lights here – we expect a dark surround instead. Just like the concept, there’s a blanked off upper grille with a second grille opening below.
The windscreen looks much more steeply angled than on the current MINI Hatch and the Countryman, possibly because the Aceman will only be offered with EV-power, making aerodynamic efficiency even more crucial. The wheel arches from the concept have been scaled down for the production model.
At the rear we can see the rear light units extending on to the tailgate, but this is just the camouflage at work. The actual rear lights will be much smaller. Elsewhere around the back end, the Aceman looks fairly conventional – the rear bumper has a rather plain design and there’s only a small roof spoiler.
The Aceman will slot into an entirely new spot in the MINI line-up created by repositioning the Countryman, which will grow in size for its next generation to around 4.5 metres long. The Aceman will be slightly smaller than the outgoing Countryman, at just over four metres long, but the fully electric architecture will allow improved space inside despite its relatively compact footprint.
Technical specifications for the Aceman have not been detailed, except for the car’s use of MINI’s new all-electric platform that will appear on the next MINI Hatch coming in 2023. That means that the Aceman will be built in China.
Based on the limited details that we already know about this new platform, two battery sizes and two power outputs could be offered. An entry-level car with around 180bhp and a 40kWh battery for a claimed range of around 190 miles will form the basis of the line-up, while a more powerful car with 215bhp with a 50kWh battery would look to target 250 miles from a full charge.
MINI Aceman concept car
We’ve previously spoken to Oliver Heilmer, Head of MINI Design, who talked us through the Aceman concept. According to Heilmer the production car is 80 per cent complete.
“Since this is the new family member, it was clear for us that this will have a modern approach, it will break out of typical form language.”
Although similar in length to the soon to be discontinued MINI Hatch five-door, the Aceman concept is wider and taller, with a more SUV-inspired shape. A two-box profile with the wheels pushed right to the very extremes of the car’s body means the car’s overhangs are short, also making the most of space inside, and it’s onto this chunky silhouette that the new design language, called ‘Charismatic Simplicity,’ is projected.
The front end of the car is where the Aceman diverts most significantly from current MINI design language, with a new face that’s designed entirely for the brand’s electric era. Most significantly, the headlights aren’t round, but Heilmer says that in many ways the new front is “more classic” than the brand’s current look, given the new octagonal frame grille element that’s illuminated in turquoise.
The red vertical elements emphasise the height of the car, but they’re also home to a pair of external speakers – one of many concept car touches sprinkled throughout the Aceman. Another set is found in the rear valance.
The speakers give an audio welcome for the driver as they approach the car, but they’re also to draw attention to the new generation of sound design being created for the next-generation electric MINI models. “We are making every sound new. The driving sound, indicator, whatever, everything is composed specifically for the new MINI family,” Heilmer told us. “Even from its sound it will be recognisable as one of the new MINIs.”
Prominent and upright wheel arches create a tough look for the compact SUV, housing 20-inch wheels. A large roof rack is another nod to the car’s positioning as the brand’s new baby SUV, and it’s also home to a trademark MINI touch, with the brackets forming a Union flag-like motif.
At the rear, a clean look has been applied with little clutter, the compact tailgate sitting flush with the rear bumper wearing a MINI badge and Aceman lettering. “A MINI should have a good stance, that’s important,” says Heilmer, before teasing that a new level of customisation is in the offing for MINI buyers, a group traditionally keen on personalisation.
“The customer might be able to choose between two or three different signatures,” he said, suggesting that those who don’t want the Union-flag inspired tail-light design will be able to choose something else.
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The use of colour is a massive part of MINI’s concept and newcomer model that will follow it. The Aceman’s pearlescent blue paint is combined with a British Racing Green roof, the car’s speaker elements are highlighted in red, and there’s also that turquoise frame and purple badging to take in. However, the car’s colour palette is even bolder inside the cabin.
As per MINI’s traditional approach, the use of space inside the Aceman concept is clever, maximising interior space so that the small car feels quite big inside from our early look around the car. There’s no leather or chrome inside, with various textile surfaces and iridescent metals used to create an eyecatching environment.
Alongside the unusual seat upholstery, the concept’s steering wheel is trimmed in green velvet velour. But alongside the fun, modern feel there’s a huge nod to the original Mini in the shape of the dashboard architecture and infotainment system.
“Due to digitalisation we are able to achieve it again,” says Heilmer. The Aceman features a single, round OLED infotainment screen in the centre of the dashboard, and in the concept it’s near-production-spec hardware.
Beneath it sits a small bank of switches, where the parking brake, gear selector, drive modes and volume control buttons are located, plus a power toggle interpreted as a modern-day take on the original’s turnkey. Placing these here frees up space for an adaptable centre console that runs from the car’s front area to the rear.
Another concept car touch is the inclusion of three “experience modes”, setting the theme for the infotainment unit and the dashboard as a whole. Toggling one of the modes reveals that the infotainment sprawls beyond the main screen, projecting across the entire dashboard.
The navigation can take up the whole surface, and a ‘charging game’ has been devised with projection technology. The goal is to successfully spell ‘Aceman’ across the dashboard using floating bubble letters, flung out of the screen and across the fascia with a swipe of the finger.
The production version of the Aceman is expected to break cover towards the end of 2023, before going on sale in 2024.
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