MINI has used the BMW Group’s #NEXTGen 2020 online event to reveal its funky and futuristic Vision Urbanaut concept car, a pod-like vehicle designed to show the lifestyle possibilities a multi-purpose vehicle can provide.
The Vision Urbanaut is a major departure from Mini’s normal hatch-style vehicles, taking the shape of a Kombi-like people mover that provides greater interior space and versatility, with a long wheelbase and minimal overhangs.
Mini design chief Oliver Heilmer explained that the Vision Urbanaut was designed to show the possibilities of a vehicle facilitating a number of uses outside simply A-to-B travel.
“Mini sees its future self primarily as an enabler of and companion for unforgettable times – what we might call ‘MINI moments’,” he said.
“The Mini Vision Urbanaut uses three curated Mini moments – “Chill”, “Wanderlust” and “Vibe” – to present a wide range of possible usage scenarios.”
The Vision Urbanaut measures 4.46 metres long, and was designed from the inside out, starting with floor plans, furniture pieces and wooden scale models.
From the outside, two signature Mini design elements are included, with the headlights and front grille semi-hidden underneath a milled aluminium structure with slotted openings, with the headlights able to display different multi-coloured graphics.
Otherwise the Vision Urbanaut is completely new with a huge glasshouse roof, a hinged windscreen that can fold upwards, a sliding rear door and a wheel design inspired by the Union Jack.
Despite not disclosing any concrete details, Mini says the Vision Urbanaut is underpinned by an all-electric powertrain with automated driving functions.
Occupants enter the Vision Urbanaut through the rear sliding door, and are greeted by flexible four-seat layout with the two front seats able to swivel around, while the rear backrests can be folded and turned around.
When the car is stationary, the padded dashboard lowers and becomes an extra couch-like seating space.
At the rear, another lounge-like couch seat is included, dubbed ‘Cosy Corner’ by Mini, which sits next to a small integrated table complete with a small houseplant.
As mentioned earlier, three ‘moments’ are envisaged for the Vision Urbanaut, the first of which is ‘Chill’ – designed for urban environments, the rear seat bench features an LED signature across the roof called Loop, which takes on the appearance “inspired by a green forest canopy”.
Ambient music and atmospheric sounds are added to give a relaxed feel to the interior.
The second moment, ‘Wanderlust’, activates when the vehicle is moving and is designed to evoke the joys of travel.
The information screen mounted to the wall provides visuals inspired by 1950s and 60s tourism posters, while journey information including potential attractions and arrival time are displayed along the designated route.
Lastly, the ‘Vibe’ moment opens the windscreen and sliding door to create an open, inviting space while the circular screen transforms into a media control panel with an animation of graphic EQ functions is projected onto the front and rear of the vehicle, as well as the wheels and Loop strip.
In order to reduce its footprint, the Vision Urbanaut is crafted with recycled materials, including the knitted textile upholstery and cork steering wheel and floor segments.