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Tony O'Kane | Jun 17, 2016

MINI has unwrapped its Vision Next 100 Concept, the latest concept in the Vision Next 100 series that showcases how each brand in the BMW Group - MINI’s parent company - envisages how its cars will look a century from now.

Like the BMW Vision Next 100 and the Rolls Royce 103EX, the focus is now on autonomous driving and in-car technology. The MINI Vision Next 100 Concept still has a steering wheel sticking out of its dashboard, but the company doesn’t expect it’ll get much use.

Instead, drivers (riders?) will be able to call on the Vision Next 100 for a pick up, with the car piloting itself to the pick up point. It may not even be their own car - MINI expects its cars of the future to be incorporated into a MINI-exclusive ride sharing network, with owners able to call on the closest available MINI at any time of day.

It’s radically different in how it looks, too. While the silhouette is not too far removed from the two-box layout that characterises present-day MINIs, everything else differs wildly.

The front and rear doors slide fore and aft, and the concept’s lack of B-pillar ensures ease of entry and exit. The dashboard has been pushed well forward, and the windscreen extends right up to the very front of the car - where two narrow-set circular LED headlamps and a full-colour projector reside within a fully transparent “grille”.

The projector acts like an extended head-up display, casting information and patterns on the road to either inform or entertain the driver. When driven manually in sport mode, the correct racing line can even be projected onto the road to help guide drivers around corners.

Speaking of which, enthusiasts haven’t been forgotten entirely in MINI’s version of the future - those craving a sportier drive can simply put the car in John Cooper Works mode to unlock more power and performance-focused dynamics.

Side-mounted cameras and projectors enable people to interact with graphics projected on the ground, too, opening the doors or boot by stepping on virtual buttons. The concept’s silver bodywork can also be customised with projected graphics as well, for those that prefer a more visually expressive car.

Inside, two full-width bench seats make the most of the concept’s diminutive proportions while the future adoption of autonomous vehicles means crumple zones will no longer need to be as big - hence why the front occupants’ feet sit just behind the nose of this concept.

There’s no centre console to get in the way either, something facilitated by the concept’s compact all-electric driveline.

Furnished to look as premium as possible, the Vision Next 100 also makes extensive use of sustainable materials like recycled aluminium and plastic, as well as more unusual materials like brass, basalt and cellulose (aka, paper).

The concept’s seat upholstery is knitted Alcantara.

The pedals slide with the steering wheel to adjust their position, and while the steering wheel doesn’t tuck away like the BMW Vision Next 100 Concept, all the driver needs to do to switch to autonomous mode is push the steering column into the centre of the car.

Is MINI’s ambitious take on the city car of the future accurate? Only time will tell…

MORE: MINI News and Reviews


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