New spy photos published here yesterday revealed what appeared to be the next-generation MINI Cooper Hatch. We were wrong. Well, we were mostly wrong.
Sources at BMW have confirmed with TMR that what we're looking at here is the carmaker's upcoming front-wheel-drive small car, in disguise.
Rather than a new Cooper Hatch with a suspiciously 1 Series-like interior, the car spied this week is actually a BMW test mule wearing its little brother's jumper.
It is already known, however, that BMW's new front-wheel-driver will share its platform with the next-generation Cooper. This means that while the spied car is testing the Bimmer-specific model, it also acts as a test car for both new cars.
The carmaker confirmed last year that the new architecture will be compatible with vehicles measuring 3800mm to 4300mm long, covering city cars through to compact/small cars such as the Cooper Hatch and the 1 Series.
BMW boss Norbert Reithofer said that the new models will be entirely separate from BMW's upcoming "i" range, with internal studies showing growing demand for 'premium vehicles' (such as the Audi A1) in the small car market.
The new cars are expected to debut sometime next year, introducing a smaller and more affordable offering for BMW and a significantly re-styled third-generation Cooper Hatch.
As reported yesterday (and earlier), both cars will be powered by BMW's new turbocharged three-cylinder engine range, including petrol and diesel options with, we're assured, enough guts to take on many of today's four-cylinder mills.