With the third-generation Mini Cooper Hardtop slated to debut later this year at either the Frankfurt or Los Angeles Auto Shows, the automaker has now provided an early look at some of what we can expect to see in that vehicle -- as well as a host of new elements that could appear in subsequent Mini models. This innovative reveal in possibility/probability took place at the Mini Design@Home event in Munich -- headquarters of its parent company, BMW. There, Mini's design head Anders Warming pulled the electronic wraps off of the Mini Vision. Essentially a virtual 3D hologram, Warming and his staff developed the Vision to show off the latest take on traditional Mini styling elements, interspersing them with "new creative impulses that advance the cause of premium quality in the compact class."

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The exterior of this phantom Mini Vision is finished in a new Glamour Gold hue set off by dark lower body banding and other accent bits made from "organo metal," a lightweight and extremely moldable fiber-based composite. While retaining Mini's signature tri-form motif that separates the roof/greenhouse/body, the Vision's detailing puts a new spin on the package. Beyond its functional hood air intake, the Vision's overall aerodynamics are enhanced by new features like wind-channeling air intakes and outlets fore and aft of each front wheel arch, an airflow-optimized alloy wheel design and exterior mirrors, plus an integral and highly functional roof spoiler. While its basic proportions remain classic Mini in character, the Vision's new recast grille contains both the bumper and running lights and is now flanked by new elliptical LED headlamps featuring an external ring element that serves as a daytime running light. The Vision's rear quarters display a similar bolder-but-sleeker remake, gaining stronger character lines, bigger tail lamps and larger-diameter exhaust outlets.

An even more dramatic transformation can be found inside the Mini Vision. While the large circular mid-dash form carries forward in its classic location, virtually everything else has been rethought to bring it into the 21st century. In addition to high-concept graphics, highlights of this more open and interactive realm include lounge-style seats wrapped in a tough, high-quality dark-blue fabric, a "floating" center console, central multifunction controller, simplified climate controls, a new Mini "click system" with removable storage components, and elastic straps in a Union Jack array on the doors that facilitate quick and easy anchoring of mobile phones or drink bottles.

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The Mini Vision's future think also introduces a Driving Experience Control switch that toggles between pure-and-focused or fully-interconnected modes. Each features a unique color-keyed appearance and presents the main instrument and center-display readouts in either classic analog or modern 3D form. Last -- and for us - unquestionably least, the Vision possesses a peripheral bit of fully-interconnected-only capability dubbed the Mini Disco floor. Called into action, it provides "an expressive interplay of colors, light and forms" that allow the footwells of the car to come vibrantly to life. Hmmm...

Warming did not elaborate on exactly what Vision innovations will likely see future production applications or when those deemed practical may arrive. However, the automaker did restate its intention to use "intelligent variability, imagination-capturing technology and a compact sporting presence" as the key to maintaining the inherent fun-to-drive character of all of its vehicles in the years ahead.

More Cool Concept Vehicles...

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