Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW's board member in charge of Mini, said the Mini plays a key role in BMW's brand strategy with its distinctive design that has a global appeal, especially to young people. The brand's importance will increase as customers increasingly downsize to smaller cars, he said. "We have big plans for Mini," Schwarzenbauer added during the unveiling.
Mini says the new version has an "even more precise and sporty handling" than the current model. The car will go on sale in global markets including Europe and the United States in the spring. In Germany, the cheapest Mini Cooper will start at 19,700 euros.
The design of the new Mini, the third generation since BMW acquired the UK brand, is little changed from previous models. Mini described it as an evolutionary refinement.
"The new Mini carries forward its predecessor's aspiration to remaining the leading original of the premium small-car segment," Mini said in a statement.
The Mini Cooper will be offered with a choice of two new gasoline engines and a diesel. Increased engine efficiency, optimized weight and enhanced aerodynamic properties helped cut fuel consumption by up to 27 percent compared with current models, Mini said.
New technology includes optional LED headlights and a SIM card permanently installed in the car, both segment firsts, according to Mini.
Mini said the car's weight has been reduced by a more extensive use of high-strength steels.
A new electronic power steering system will "promote agility, driving safety and comfort" while the braking system is lighter and has better friction than the equipment on the current model, Mini said.
Mini said the new model's larger size will give occupants more room and boost luggage space.
The new Mini's length has increased by 98mm to 3821mm. It is 7mm taller at 1414mm and 44mm wider at 1727mm than the current model. The wheelbase is 28mm longer at 2495mm. Trunk volume grows by 51 liters to 211 liters.
"Cornering agility and ride comfort benefit from these new dimensions," Mini said.
The Mini will offer a wider selection of driver assistance systems including a head-up display, and a camera-based cruise control and distance control function with automatic braking if a collision is imminent.
The Mini Cooper will be offered from launch in Europe with three newly developed twin-turbocharged engines: a 136-hp, 1.5-liter, three-cylinder gasoline unit; a 192-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline powerplant; and a 116-hp 1.5-liter, three-cylinder diesel. Six-speed manual and automatic transmissions will be available on all engine variants.
BMW production chief Harald Krueger said at today's press unveiling that the new Mini will continue the brand's "great success story."
Global sales of the Mini, which has seven variants, rose nearly 1 percent to an all-time high for the brand of 249,702 units in the first 10 months of this year.