Thursday, February 9, 2023
News Mini Brings Urbanaut Concept to Life

Mini Brings Urbanaut Concept to Life

Urbanaut looks at a car that is also a place to chill

  • Mini creates physical version of virtual concept

  • Envisions Mini as car as living room


Mini brought a real version of a formally digital concept car to a global conference on digitalization, science, and culture. The car with a tree growing inside is still fully a concept, but it’s cool to see it represented in physical form.

The virtual concept Mini Urbanaut debuted last year, but the automaker built and brought the real thing to the DLD Summer conference. Mini and the BMW Group were event partners, with Mini delivering a “Big Love as a Vision” keynote presentation.

Mini’s Urbanaut is a lounge on wheels. An automotive pod designed to be autonomous and electric, and is a look at how the brand sees Mini fitting into a post-driving world. This full-scale model is about six inches longer than a Mini Countryman but looks massively larger thanks to a flat floor and proportions that are more in keeping with an apartment than a car.

The automaker had shown the concept with its swath of front and rear LED panels displaying something that looked like a traditional head and taillight layout. The new photos of a real model show off what it would look like with those LEDs powered down.

Mini says it sees itself as “an enabler of and companion for unforgettable times,” especially once driving is done by the computer, and this interior is supposed to help with that. Though only one of the modes, called Mini Moments, is actually about driving.

Chill turns the car into a sort of retreat from the world with interior lighting meant to mimic a forest canopy. The instrument cluster transforms into a table lamp and shows you no vehicle information. Vibe gets a slide-open door and a windshield that opens to give you more of a party atmosphere. Here the cluster is a party light, pulling to your music.

The only one about driving is Wanderlust, which shows you estimated arrival times and attractions along the way.

It’s not a production car, and won’t be, but it is a look at Mini’s philosophies going forward. Expect details like the interior that lacks chrome and leather to be an upcoming detail for sure.

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