BMWBLOG had an opportunity to chat with Anders Warming, the Head of Mini Design at the IAA held in Frankfurt.
BMWBLOG: What was the thinking behind the somewhat startling root treatment of the Mini Coupe?
Anders Warming: The roof treatment is something very specific, making the coupe very unique. Mini is a family of cars that all come from the same origin – the hatch. And each of these cars have their own shade of character. The coupe has one specific differentiator and that, of course, is the roofline. There is a flatter front screen [windshield – Ed.] , there’s a curved line that emphasizes it being a two seater and of course our favorite line which goes to the vented spoiler. This is what we call the ‘helmet’ roof. It’s sort of like a baseball cap turned the other way round. And it’s got an attitude that is very Mini like, wild. If you drive this car, in this case a John Cooper Works, in traffic you’re sure to stand out with the red roof. We can also see it more elegantly expressed in the blue car with the silver roof. We balance the elegance with a sporty statement of the roof line.
BMWBLOG: Are there certain design constraints for the Mini brand such as the placement of wheels, the height of the shoulder line, the character of the flanks that you have to adhere to?
Anders Warming: Sure. A Mini basically has to express agility meaning that we have larger wheels on all four corners. The car really represents a go-kart feeling. Whatever we do, regardless of body style, it has to express the go-kart like feel that you see in the proportions. That’s the first premise. The other thing is that we are really centering the Mini around a specific graphic vocabulary, for example, the round headlights, the hexagon front grille, and chrome door handles. All these features are going to be integrated in the Mini.
There is really no reason to change things, we want to make sure that when people see the car they will immediately say, “This is a Mini”. Of course there is an entire list list of all these things and they go, in essence for me, very deeply. For example the waist line finish might seem like a minor detail, it is a chrome line that separates the the body from the greenhouse but it’s been on the Mini since we re-launched the car in 2001. And this waist line finish is a very valuable way of having the greenhouse sit on top of a body. It emphasizes the shoulder of the car. It’s part of all these very traditional things that we really like about car design. We’re car passionate and all these features basically support that.
BMWBLOG: In the original Mini the sides were fairly straight up and down.
Anders Warming: The original Mini had a very specific feature around the roundness of the front fenders, the roundness on top of the shoulder, and the roundness around the tail lights. That is something we’ve maintained.
The original Mini also had a fairly straight body side. I think that due to the fact that this car is a more modern statement this is where we took a little bit of liberty and shaped the flanks so it is three dimensional and very lovely.
BMWBLOG: Noticing the details that make up the side marker lights, where did the idea for that originate?
Anders Warming: One of the key features of the original Mini was the side scuttle line that came down from the A-pillar and we’re picking up on that graphic because now we have the front bonnet that goes all the way out to the sides. We also took the opportunity to make some things, let’s say, nice looking around the blinker. The blinker is a functional element but I think here it is very well integrated in the side scuttle.
And the side scuttle also helps us differentiate the car and the blinker is specific to the model. SO on one hand it’s a piece of functional detail but on the other hand it’s a piece of jewelry that these kinds of automotive shapes need to have.
BMWBLOG: How do you differentiate the interior designs of the various models?
Anders Warming: The coupe has a couple of key differentiators. The headliner has a shape that allows you to have the same headroom as you would in the hatch. So that is what we say about the Mini, ‘It’s small on the
outside, big on the inside.’ You get this wow affect when you sit inside of it and you get an unexpected amount of space, headroom, rather than the disappointment if you couldn’t fit in the car.
The second space that we worked on was the trunk space. The trunk space on the coupe is 120 cubic liters more than that of the hatch which really gives you a surprise element as well. You’ve got this beautiful roof line, a low rear deck, and when you open the trunk you are actually looking into very large trunk space that can really fit a lot of things into. And on top of that we have the pass through, which is standard on all the cars, which allows to brings skis and the like along.
So here you have a very emotional three dimensional coupe that tugs at your heart strings but it also has a practical and logical reason behind it.
BMWBLOG: Noticing the spoiler on the coupe, does it come up at speed or at the driver’s initiation?
Anders Warming: Correct. The rear spoiler is a functional aerodynamic piece that we need. We found out that at high speeds the car was getting a little uneasy. That is why we really focused on integrating the spoiler here and making it work because every Mini has to look as exciting as it drives.
The pressure on the rear spoiler adds about 40 kg of downforce. It also enhances the character of the car. There is also the roof spoiler and along with the trunk spoiler that supports the visual aspects as well.
BMWBLOG: The spoiler also helps, presumably, under braking at speed when the car gets nose heavy and a bit light in the rear.
Anders Warming: Yes. A Mini will always be a driver’s car, regardless of model. You get in the car and get these positive surprises, ‘Wow it goes even better than I expected.’ I think it is something we stand by as an
engineering company. The original Mini from 1959 was an engineering marvel and I believe that the way we create these cars for the future centers around the same principles, engineering first and then making it a highly aesthetic and desirable object as well.
BMWBLOG: Did the Mini Paceman get the green light for production?