Mini Aceman: concept hints at new electric Mini crossover design, spec and performance

Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 2:39 pm

Mini has given the first glimpse of how its next electric crossover will look with the Aceman concept car.

Scheduled to arrive in showrooms in 2024, the production version will slot between the Mini hatch and mid-sized Countryman.

As is so often the case with concept cars nowadays, though Mini headlines the Aceman as a concept, it’s unlikely to be too far distanced in reality from the car which will go on-sale in two years. Mini insiders suggest the concept portrays 80% of how the production model will look.

Built on a stretched version of the all-new Spotlight architecture, which is being jointly developed by BMW and Chinese partner firm, Great Wall, the core structure will — perhaps not surprisingly — also form the basis for the next-generation electric Mini hatchback.

Mini Aceman battery, range and performance

In the copious volume of words which accompanied these new images, nowhere does Mini give any clue or indication as to the likely battery sizes or range of the production version of Aceman. But … we do know the new electric Mini hatchback, which as mentioned shares the same Spotlight architecture, will be available as a Cooper, delivering 181bhp and with a battery of 40kWh and a range of around 190 miles. There will also be a 221bhp Cooper S. Fitted with a 50kWh battery pack, it will have a full-charge range of around 250 miles. Expect the production version of the Aceman to very closely mirror those figures.

Worth mentioning, of course, the Aceman name is eerily similar to that of the short-lived Paceman, the three-door small Mini SUV which was given the chop in 2016. Mini bosses though are quick to emphasise the new Aceman will slot into an entirely new spot in the brand’s line-up. This will be created as a result of Mini repositioning the Countryman, which in turn will grow in size in its next generation extending to around 4,500mm in length.

Mini Aceman design

At just over 4,050mm long, 1,990mm wide and 1,590mm tall, the Aceman will be slightly smaller than the outgoing Countryman and the upcoming Smart #1, with which it’s likely to compete. The newcomer though, as is the case with this concept, will fully maximise packaging to improve space inside despite its relatively compact footprint.

It’s clear in the information Mini has released relating to the Aceman concept, that it is focusing on initially educating future buyers to where the brand’s design language is heading, rather than releasing a raft of technical details.

“The purely electric vehicle concept means the design can again be geared more towards Mini’s traditional basic values, in terms of the principle of using space creatively,” Oliver Heilmer, head of Mini design, explained. “This creates models that take up little space on the road while offering even more comfort, more versatility and more emotion on the inside than ever before.”

With its short overhangs, the Aceman concept — which has four doors, a large tailgate and seating for five people — creates the maximum amount of space for occupants and luggage, with minimal surface area. Externally there are noticeable advances in the Mini design. The Aceman sees the Mini’s large, chrome-rimmed headlights greatly reduced visually. Instead the front-end is now defined by an LED outline. Look carefully and you’ll also spot the outermost edge of the Aceman’s grille portrays a very slender “doff of the cap” to the brand’s roots.

While the rear is dominated by the large tailgate and spoiler, there’s also a glazed roof with no strengthening bars. There is a possibility this might make its way into the production model if Mini uses the battery pack as a structural part of the chassis. Let’s see. That glass roof also displays perfectly a really neat feature of the concept: a roof rack whose structure, when mounted on the Aceman’s diagonal roof bars, references the Union Flag. Very clever. And again there’s a strong possibility this will appear in production guise.

Elsewhere, the Union Flag appears throughout the car. it’s partly illuminated in the grille; it’s been designed into the Aceman’s rear light clusters; it’s been stamped into the wheel-arch mouldings and there are two behind the minimalist dashboard. Inside, the cabin is understood to essentially display that of the production model … though I’d suggest getting rid of some of the zany upholstery. Or is that just me? Spacey — thanks to the bespoke EV platform, and more spacious than today’s five-door hatch and Clubman — the rather bare cabin is dominated by a single circular OLED touchscreen with a small toggle bar beneath it. Within the toggle bar is a small band of switches where gear selector, drive modes, parking brake, and volume control buttons are located. There’s also a power toggle interpreted as a modern-day take on the original’s turnkey.

The concept also includes three “experience modes”. These can be used to set the theme for the infotainment unit and the whole dashboard. Toggling one of the modes allows the infotainment to sprawl beyond the main screen, and actually projects it across the entire dashboard. Perhaps not surprising then that the conventional official unveil of the car has been thrown out the window. Forget any potential debut at a motor show. Oh no. Instead the Aceman will be revealed at a gaming convention, the Gamescom 2022 in Cologne next month. We should then expect to see the production version towards the end of 2023, before going on sale in 2024.