MINI is currently testing its next-generation electric Hardtop on snow and ice in Swedish Lapland at its proving ground in Arjeplog to tune the chassis and steering to deliver the typical go-kart feeling customers expect of the brand's core model.
To mark the occasion, the automaker has released a massive photo gallery of its upcoming electric city car, including an interesting set of images that shows the 2024 MINI Cooper SE development prototype alongside all previous generations of the MINI Hardtop, including the original Mini of the 1960s.
It's interesting to see the previous four generations together as it allows us to see how MINI's core model has grown with each iteration.
Mind you, the fifth generation makes a notable exception as it is slightly shorter and lighter than the current MINI Cooper SE. This is mostly due to the fact that it uses a dedicated electric vehicle architecture co-developed by BMW Group and Great Wall Motor, as opposed to the current generation which shares its platform with ICE-powered models.
While the new EV architecture will allow the new electric MINI to offer even more compact exterior dimensions, the interior will be roomier thanks to a 40-mm (1.6-in) longer wheelbase and wider tracks. This is because the EV-only platform enables the wheels to be pushed further towards the vehicle's extremities.
Gallery: 2023 Mini 3-Door EV Testing in Lapland
That's what Autocar has learned after a first ride in the new MINI Cooper SE, a full 18 months before the model is due on sale. The publication also reports that the 2024 model's more efficient packaging enabled engineers to fit a bigger battery pack compared to the current EV's 32.6-kWh unit (of which 28.9 kWh are usable).
Obviously, this means the driving range will be higher than the 2023 Cooper SE's EPA-rated 114 miles (183 kilometers).
With regard to the styling, Autocar has been able to confirm that the leaked images from late last year were the real deal. The new model sports a familiar front end, a bold rear with radically changed taillights and a minimalist dashboard dominated by a massive round touchscreen at the center.
Interestingly, while the gasoline-powered MINI Hardtop will look similar to the EV, it will be completely different under the skin, riding on an updated FAAR architecture that's also used by the new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer.
Furthermore, the EV will launch as a three-door hatch whereas ICE variants will continue to be offered in three- or five-door hatchback and convertible body styles.
Another key difference between the EV and ICE MINI will be the manufacturing location. The electric model will be built in China from 2023 by Spotlight Automotive Limited, the joint venture between BMW Group and GWM, while ICE variants will continue to be made in Oxford, UK.