Mini is known for not following the rules. It broke the rules for what a small car should be and then later rules that said a small car needed to actually be small. Its latest concept, though, expands space far beyond the cavern that was the surprisingly spacious inside of the tiny exteriors that have worn the badge so far. This new concept is a new look at space, so different from the norm that Mini didn't even show us a car until days after it described it.
The initial photo released of the Mini Urbanaut concept was of some sort of deconstructed living room, as you can see below, with chairs, a lamp, and flowers, then building blocks exploding outward. The fact that Mini lead with the interior shows that it's almost more important than the car holding it, which wasn't unveiled until days later.
The Mini Vision Urbanaut is a reimagining of the use of space inside a car, and a big part of this are the three different styles of operation, which it calls Mini Moments. Chill, Wanderlust, and Vibe are three different looks at the interior of the car, each for a particular part of mobility.
Chill is for an in-car retreat, letting you work on the move, or catch a break. Mini calls it a haven during a journey showing forest canopy-inspired lighting and visuals. Wanderlust is for automated or hands-on driving with an interface inspired by 1950s and 1960s tourism posters, while Vibe is to help you spend time with other people inside the car turning the interior magenta, black, and turquoise, showing graphic equalizers in and out to give a club-like atmosphere.
It's a four-seater inside, just 4.46 metres long but taller than other Minis, with an interior space that can be reconfigured. The front seats can rotate, while the rear seating surface can also be folded or turned. When stationary, the dashboard lowers to become a "daybed" seating area, while the windshield can open upward to create what Mini calls a balcony.
The rear section is darker and Mini calls the quieter space the Cosy Corner. There's a textile-covered loop over the bench seat and LED backlighting. Amidships is the open and airy centre section of the car. It gives access to the seats, or with the door open you can sit on the floor. A table opposite the door helps make it feel more like home and marks the centrepoint of the interior.
A Mini Token, which Mini likens to a worry stone, is the activation point for the three Mini Moments, and you can also configure your own experience including lighting, fragrance, and music, all to call up later.
It shows a new Mini front end, but a clear representation of the Mini lights and grille, with headlights only visible in use and that can show multi-coloured graphics to communicate with the outside. The car's wheels wear a Union Jack profile and Mini says they also recall skateboards to show its city nimbleness and rebelliousness. The drive system is electric, and much like the original Mini's front-drive transverse engine, it has allowed Mini to imagine the interior space in new ways with new efficiencies. Just don't look at that sliding door and call it a Mini-van, or even a Mini MPV. You'll cramp their style.