Mini reveals all-electric Aceman concept

When it comes to EVs, Mini has so far opted to stick with its most famous hatchback. Expect that to change in 2024…

By Matt Bird / Wednesday, 27 July 2022 / Loading comments

Most of us will know immediately if the Mini Concept Aceman is something we’re interested in. For the avoidance of any doubt, however, Mini’s first few sentences neatly sum up what we have here. ‘An all-electric drive, the Charismatic Simplicity clear and reduced design language, a new digital interior experience and a responsible material design with absolutely no leather or chrome elements – the Mini fuses these attributes together with the concept of its very first crossover model for the premium small car segment.’ It’s another electric SUV, yes, so now’s the chance to leave if you don’t need to know any more. For those that are interested, however – and the sheer number of all Minis out there suggest there are a few – this is a clear indication of what’s to come. 

Certainly Mini identifies the Aceman as a ‘design preview of its future model generation.’ There’s already an electric hatch, of course, there have been previews of electric JCWs, and the entire range will see its last combustion engined car in just three years’ time; the leap from the current Countryman to an all-electric version that looks like this isn’t an enormous one. The Aceman sits between hatch and Countryman in terms of size, at 4.05m long, 1.99m wide and 1.59m high, with ‘the proportions you would expect of the brand’. Even without the badges, the Aceman is not going to be mistaken for anything but a Mini, Union Jack lights and all.

Without any further numbers to go off – not even pie-in-the-sky predictions for performance or range – there really isn’t anything else to talk about for the moment other than design. And it’s probably best to start inside, in fact, as that’s where the greatest revolution for electric Minis looks set to take place. Doing away with the combustion engine does present opportunities for interiors, and more traffic everywhere is making an innovative cabin more important than ever.

So, of course, Mini has really gone to town. The dash is meant to resemble a sound bar, the central display uses organic LEDs and the reconfigured toggle switches – as well as doing volume, drive and so on – also feature Experience Modes. Essentially, they set moods for the interior, altering displays, colours and sounds. Vivid mode is designed for charging time and ‘short breaks when stopping at traffic lights’ (remember what we said about jams), which creates letter bubbles projected onto the dash that interact with each other – it also features experimental sounds to complement the ‘playful elements of Vivid Mode’. And that’s just the start; Pop Up Mode suggests destinations based on a theme you’ve chosen and then navigates you there with specific sounds ‘to bring even more of a sense of anticipation.’ Playing I Feel Like Chicken Tonight on the way to Nando’s, or something like that. And finally, Personal Mode allows your own image to be on that enormous OLED display (so think carefully about what goes there) along with further funky projections and related sounds on the dash. All very concept car cool; of perhaps more relevance to the production car (though expect something like Experience Modes in the real thing) is confirmation that the electric Mini SUV uses a new operating system built on an Android Open Source Project software stack. Which sounds a lot more tangible than the rest of the Aceman for the moment, and is what makes the “unprecedented and comprehensive expansion of digital features” possible. So maybe you’ll be seeing the shimmering surface of a swimming pool and a weird London map in a Mini sooner than expected.

If anything, the outside looks closer to a production reality. An SUV concept couldn’t call itself such without enormous wheels and a roof rack, but look beyond that and there are familiar Mini cues throughout – all the way to the ‘ACEMAN’ font on the boot. While you’d have to hope a front end this bulbous and Union Jack-y doesn’t make it to real life as part of the Charismatic Simplicity design language, it’s very clearly a Mini face despite requiring no grilles to cool an engine. There looks to be inspiration from the Rocketman, Electric GP and regular BEV Cooper S. Mini describes the front end as possessing a ‘striking magnetism and individual accents’. Special mention is also reserved for the chunky wheelarches, an ‘athletic’ shoulder line and the width of the rear end – textbook small SUV cues. The paint is Icy Sunglow Green, the roof British Racing Green for a nod to the old school. Along with a diagonal contour below the A-pillars ‘reminiscent of the striking weld seam of the classic Mini’ – can’t forget that tradition!

Funky seat font aside, the Aceman is probably closer to your local showroom than you might think at first glance. And Mini doesn’t tend to dabble in concepts not destined for reality, perhaps apart from that incredible Superleggera Vision of a few years back. Absolutely there’s an electric Mini SUV in the firm’s immediate future, and if the popularity of the Electric and the Countryman is anything to go by, plenty will be sold as well. The Aceman is making its debut at gamescom 2022 next month in Cologne; don’t be surprised if a production-ready version, the car between a Cooper and a Countryman and one with ‘an electrified go-kart feel, an immersive digital experience and a strong focus on a minimal environmental footprint’ surfaces next year. 

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