MINI has entered the evaluation phase of its next-generation Cooper S development, as these recent spy photos suggest.
Prototypes of the bread and butter Cooper model have been spotted previously, but this prototype appears to be the hot Cooper S version.
Like previous Cooper S cars, this prototype features twin central exhausts - but notably lacks the modern Cooper S-characteristic bonnet scoop.
The new Cooper S is expected to continue to use a turbocharger for its performance boost, but this new model looks likely to do away with the bonnet scoop.
Aside from the longer front overhang and more tapered roofline, the prototype’s visible shutlines suggest evolutionary overall styling changes.
Larger tail-lights appear likely, with the hatch panel’s shutline suggesting units sized somewhere between those on the current Countryman and the Paceman concept - itself headed for production as the Countryman Coupe (or as the Paceman, if recent reports are accurate).
This prototype’s interior suggests a continuation of previous MINI retro shapes, but with more contemporary details and switchgear.
The new MINI Cooper and Cooper S are expected to be the first vehicles based on the BMW Group’s new UKL1 platform, expected to underpin the next generation of MINI derivatives and a host of BMW models.
Both Cooper models are expected to be unveiled before the end of the year, before going on sale in early 2013.
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