It’s been a minute since we last saw a camouflaged prototype of the next Mini Cooper. We know the iconic hatchback will be coming in combustion and pure electric variants soon. It’s believed there will be some notable stylistic differences between the models, but new spy photos suggest that’s not the case.
The main difference, apart from the grille, is the taillights. A leaked image from December 2021 shows the rear of the electric Cooper S with edgy diamond-shaped taillights. A next-generation combustion-powered Coopers spy photo from early 2022 shows the taillights in the Mini’s traditional rounded rectangle shape. However, it seems we’ve been fooled all along as the image below shows the new diamond lights on the prototype with the fuel-fired engine.
There’s some clever camouflage going on here, but look closely and you’ll notice new taillights under the hood mimicking the old style. It also means the gas-powered Cooper will have the restyled rear cap necessary to house the lens. But how do we know we are dealing with a combustion engine and not an EV? The exhaust pipes are tucked behind the rear fascia, and if these cars were parked we probably wouldn’t see them. However, this prototype was being loaded onto a trailer and it must have been a bit chilly. A faint exhaust plume is visible just behind the rear wheel on the left side.
That doesn’t mean combustion-powered Minis won’t have electricity. We’re told that every new Cooper will offer at least a 48-volt mild hybrid powertrain. As for the all-electric models, they will retain the familiar Mini style but use a dedicated electric platform. We believe two variants will be offered – the base Cooper which packs a smaller battery with lower output and under 200 miles of range. The electric S can exceed 200 hp and offers a range close to 250 miles. No word yet on what power to expect from the combustion-powered Mini.
A new convertible is confirmed for 2025, but before that arrives we’ll need to take a look at the new hardtop. It’s been over a year since our first next-gen sighting, so the debut may only be a few weeks away at this point. Depending on the timing, the new Cooper could be a 2023 or 2024 model year vehicle.