The new Mini is not just an exercise in retro styling, says Burkhard Goeschel, BMW's vice president for research and development.
'We saw the original Mini as a unique and agile car, with its small wheels on the corners of the body,' says Goeschel. 'But that concept could never be surpassed. So we redefined the original concept, following modern safety standards.'
To develop the Mini brand and product for the future, BMW produced 12 different concept studies.
'They varied from the evolutionary to the extreme,' says Goeschel. 'The car had to appeal to a broad range of tastes. We had to be sure we were making the right decision because the tradition of the Mini is so valuable -and so delicate.
'Although it is being built in the UK [at Oxford, England] it is not a British car - it is a Mini,' says Goeschel. 'The original Mini was conceived by a Greek-Turkish engineer, Alec Issigonis, anyway.'
The Mini brand name was the only part of the former Rover Group retained by BMW when it sold the company in May. The final classic Mini rolled off the production line at Longbridge, England, on October 4.
BMW's new Mini will be launched in Europe next year, and in the USA in 2002.