Electric MINI Aceman crossover arriving in 2024
The MINI Aceman electric crossover will share underpinnings with the next-generation MINI Electric hatchback
MINI will launch an all-new, five-door electric crossover called the Aceman in 2024, previewed by the Concept Aceman you see here. If the name sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because MINI briefly sold a small three-door SUV called the Paceman. However, MINI’s head of design, Oliver Heilmer, told DrivingElectric that the Aceman moniker isn’t a nod to the past, but rather a clean break, as the new car will be the “ace in the pack”.
The production Aceman will measure just over four metres from nose to tail, meaning it’ll be smaller than the outgoing Countryman. It’ll also use the brand-new platform from the next-generation MINI Electric, which has been designed exclusively for EVs and should help maximise cabin and luggage space in the compact crossover.
Other than that, technical details for the Aceman remain under wraps. But, considering it’ll use the next MINI Electric’s underpinnings, the Aceman may be offered with similar powertrain options. The basic version of the hatchback has a 40kWh battery and roughly 180bhp electric motor for around 180 miles’ range, while the range-topping model is set to feature a 60kWh battery, a more potent 215bhp motor and target range of 250 miles. Because the Aceman will be bigger than the hatchback, it could potentially feature larger battery options.
We’ll find out more details between now and 2024, when MINI’s response to the Smart #1 and Kia Niro EV goes on sale. The production version of the Aceman is unlikely to be revealed until late 2023, but the Concept Aceman gives us a good idea of what it’ll look like, especially as, according to Heilmer, it’s more than 80% complete.
Although similar in length to the soon-to-be-discontinued five-door MINI Hatchback, the Concept Aceman is wider and taller. The concept’s shape is also chunkier and more squared-off than you might expect from a MINI, to give it a more SUV-like appearance. MINI fans will immediately notice that the headlights are hexagonal, not round – a signature element of the brand’s iconic hatchback – while the grille outline is illuminated in turquoise.
Like all modern MINIs, there are a few union-flag motifs dotted around the Concept Aceman, from the LED light panels in the grille and tail-lights, to the black cladding and even the roof rack. Meanwhile, the 20-inch alloy wheels have been pushed right to corners of the car, creating extremely short overhangs at the front and rear, again to maximise cabin space.
Those vertical red elements on the front and rear bumpers aren’t lights, but in fact speakers. These provide an audio welcome for the driver as they approach the car, as well as highlighting the new sound design being created for the next-generation of MINI EVs. “We’re making every sound new. The driving sound, indicator, whatever – everything is composed specifically for the new MINI family,” Heilmer told us. “Even from its sound, it’ll be recognisable as one of the new MINIs.”
While the exterior of the Concept Aceman is certainly colourful, that’s nothing compared to the cabin, which features a wild array of different shades, patterns and textures. You won’t find any leather or chrome here, with MINI using materials like recycled polyester, iridescent-finish metals and even green velvet velour for the steering wheel to create an eye-catching look.
At the heart of the dashboard is an ultra-thin, circular OLED display, below which is a small row of toggle switches for the gear selector, drive modes and volume. Both these elements are likely to reach production, with the concept even using near-production-spec hardware. However, the projector system that casts images and maps onto the dashboard is much less likely to be carried over to the model you can buy.
As you’d expect from a MINI, the use of space inside the Concept Aceman is quite clever, so the relatively small car does feel quite big inside. MINI says there’s enough space to seat five, and we expect this will be the case for the production Aceman as well.
Rather than showing off the Concept Aceman at a motor show as you’d expect, MINI is playing off the car’s bold, colourful design and debuting it at Gamescom 2022: a gaming convention being held in Cologne this August.
Future electric MINI models
MINI has confirmed that it'll transition to an electric-only brand by 2030, with plans to launch several EVs over the next few years. The most important is the next-generation MINI Electric hatchback, which will make its official debut in late 2023, before its convertible counterpart hits the road by 2025.
There’s been no word on a five-door version of the next MINI hatchback, and we did ask Heilmer if the Aceman will be to all intents and purposes the default MINI Electric five-door, to which he replied: “The electric hatch is three-door; if you want to have an electric five-door, it’s this.”
The successor to the current MINI Countryman family SUV will also launch in 2023, based on the same underpinnings as the latest BMW X1. Like the BMW, the new Countryman will be offered with both combustion and electric power, with the zero-emissions version expected to use the iX1’s 309bhp dual-motor and 64.7kWh battery for a range of just under 300 miles. It’ll also grow in size over the outgoing model, with the new Countryman predicted to measure around 4.5 metres long – roughly the same as a Kia Sportage.
Finally, MINI has confirmed that it’s developing electrified John Cooper Works (JCW) models, one of which we expect will be a hot version of its electric hatchback. Former head of MINI Bernd Koerber previously hinted at this, and the brand released photos of a camouflaged fully electric JCW MINI testing at the Nurburgring circuit in Germany.
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