Since the new generation of Minis debuted in 2000, several body styles popped up, and we can't exactly call them "mini" anymore. But that's not stopping them from rolling out bigger ideas, both literally and figuratively.
Their latest concept represents a new way of thinking over at the Oxford-based marque. It's called the Urbanaut Concept, and they want to make the idea of a lounge on wheels a reality.
The Mini Urbanaut Concept looks nothing like the current range, which is a bold direction for a brand that sticks to retro cues. There's a reason for its bubble-like shape, and it's to maximize room inside. That said, it's not a total departure from the Mini design language. The dynamic LED lights form the shape classic Mini face.
But the highlight here is the interior. Thanks to its electric powertrain, the Urbanaut Concept has a flat floor. Coupled with the rounded, high-roof design, Mini made the “rolling lounge” concept possible. Instead of bench-type seats, you get an L-shaped sofa, and there's even a bed if you want to stretch out inside. Other bits of furniture include a swiveling chair and a side table.
Another interesting bit of design is the steering wheel. Being an autonomous vehicle, it stays out of sight in self-driving mode. When the driver decides to take the wheel, it pops out of the sofa that rises from below to the driver's level. Instead of an instrument cluster, all relevant driving information is projected on the massive windshield.
Of course, we're not expecting all of these to appear in production Minis within a year or two. The idea of an autonomous lounge on wheels might take a while before it becomes a reality. But once it comes to fruition, it might just make morning rush hour commutes less stressful.