Mini Vision Urbanaut concept – What is a car, anyway?

As we move closer and closer into the future where sentient robots take over the driving of our cars, carmakers seem to think that our cars should really not be “cars” anymore, or at least as we know it anyway. Instead, they seem to all trend towards the idea of moving living room on wheels; most large carmakers have already shown off such a concept one way or another, and now it’s Mini’s turn with its new Vision Urbanaut concept.

The Mini Vision Urbanaut is a digitally-rendered concept vehicle that the company says is an “all-new interpretation of a vision of space”. Just as any other concept vehicles ever made, the press release is filled to the brim with hyperboles such at those; the one above is just a mere teaser of what’s to come – so be forewarned.

Similar to any Mini models these day, the Vision Urbanaut also comes at a relatively small size with short overhangs, along with the the same cute cheerful look to it. But that’s about where the similarities end, aside from the Union Jack-inspired taillights.

Speaking of lights, both the head and taillights are embedded deep within a milled aluminium structure, and are only visible when switched on. It’s illuminated by what Mini calls “multicolour dynamic matrix”, which basically uses the lights to display various multi-coloured graphics, creating a “new form of communication between the car and the outside world” to suit each ‘moment’ – more on that later.

Even the wheels are also illuminated, and displays different graphics depending on the ‘moment’ again. The entire wheel – including the tyres – are finished in Ocean Wave, a turquoise blue which “sparks associations with the beach and the sound of the sea”.

The side panels of the Mini Vision Urbanaut is completely seamless, with the Zero Gravity seafoam-like colour extending and fading away well into the glasshouse. MINI says that this creates a “harmonious transition” from body to windows and roof, while also providing privacy without having to tint the windows – thus ensuring the interior remains bright.

Onto the ‘moment’ thing – The Vision Urbanaut will let the occupants choose between three “curated” Gen-Z-licious moods – “Chill”, “Wanderlust” and “Vibe”, which will alter the set-up of the cabin including the seat positions, lighting and graphics, music and even fragrance.

The Mini moments are activated by a “Mini Token” (see image above), which the occupants have to put it into a slot under the table of the car. There’s also a “My Mini Token”, which is basically a user-programmable mode where you’ll be able set your own “mood”, so to speak.

Yes – there’s a table in the cabin, as well as swivelling front seats, and a flexible rear seating set-up. The dashboard can be folded down into a daybed, where the dashboard can also open upwards into a Street Balcony window. At the rear of the cabin is what Mini calls the “Cosy Corner”, which can be transformed into various seating and lying positions where the occupants can “enjoy some time to themselves”.

If it still isn’t abundantly clear yet, all of these “visionary” space ideas can only be achieved thanks to the skateboard EV platform, and autonomous driving. Mini skipped any mention of the technical specifications – probably because it’s still a far-fetched imaginary concept, but you probably wouldn’t bother anyway since the car will be driving itself most of the time.

We’re unsure if this is the right direction cars should be heading towards, but hey – the world consists of more than just us, the driving enthusiasts. We could possibly see a use case of a vehicle like this for camping purposes, but let’s just skip the hyperbolic PR speech next time, OK?



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