The turn signals on the current Mini Cooper are almost like one of those annoying brainteasers that sets the word “yellow” in blue text and asks you to name the color shown. Slicing the Union Jack into halves, then stuffing each half in each taillight seems like a cute, on-brand idea with absolutely no possible downside until you see it in practice.
To my knowledge, the unintended consequence of shaping these turn signals like arrows pointing against the direction of travel has not yet resulted in any traffic incidents. But I’ll join Torch in saying that there’s something unsettling about it. Images of the next-generation 2023 Mini Cooper have been making the rounds on Twitter courtesy of journalist Greg Kable, and it doesn’t seem the British maker of hatchbacks is going to deviate from the motif anytime soon.
When BMW brought Mini back in the early 2000s, the taillights on Frank Stephenson’s original design were triangular. They later filled out and got a bit more squarish, and have remained so for about a decade — but that looks to change starting next year. The upper and lower inner chunks of the clusters have been chipped away, making sideways trapezoids.
The entire unit has been subdivided into what I could only describe as pixels, but like pixels from an old-school LCD display. If I squint, it seems like the bars that would comprise the Union Jack are a bit lighter than the rest, and I bet those light up in similar fashion as the current Mini’s taillights.
This would be a very smart move for Mini, because it’s getting so much attention over the flag lights from nerds like us. I’m willing to bet every person that directly follows a new Mini has noticed the design, and so long as they’ve ever seen 15 seconds of Austin Powers, they probably get the joke.
I have less to say about the rest of the upcoming Mini’s look. I mean, I’m still reminded of goatees or that one episode of The Powerpuff Girls when I study the front, and the headlights have these crossbars on their upper and lower portions that almost look like eyelids on a Family Guy character. I’m overflowing with cartoon character references.
There’s more to say about the interior, where Mini designers have seemingly ditched the small pill-shaped digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel in favor of a heads-up display. The dash is entirely clad in what looks to be canvas, with a big old circular panel affixed to the center dash. It’s like the essence of a Mini interior stripped down to its most iconographic parts, and it’s kind of soulless. I don’t love it coming from the current Mini’s fun and lighthearted cabin.
Supposedly this new Mini Cooper will be available in internal combustion and battery electric forms. If the manufacturer can squeeze roughly 50 more miles out of the SE while keeping the price around where it sits today — and the driving dynamics on point — it’ll be a pretty compelling bargain EV.