The Mk5 Mini is due to be unveiled late next year

The first examples of the next generation Mini hatch will be three-door versions, parent company BMW has confirmed.

Being the first to make its public appearance, engineers are currently putting the car through winter testing at the BMW Group’s winter test centre in the Arjeplog region of northern Sweden.

In time, it will be followed by an all-new Countryman and a faster John Cooper Works derivative. Mini has also said work is ongoing to bring a “new crossover for the small-car segment” to market. Crucially, all models are going to be offered with a fully electrified powertrain for the first time.

In Sweden, the hatch is currently “completing a major chapter in its series development process” though a series of dynamic tests on snow-covered roads and specially devised sections based around frozen lakes.

According to Mini, “the electric drivetrain, high-voltage battery, power electronics and charging technology of the prototypes are already demonstrating their high degree of maturity at extreme temperatures below freezing”.

On top of learning more about the e-motor and battery, engineers also hope to fine tune the traction control system, suspension set-up and the springs’ damping levels. Attention is also being paid to the steering and braking on the fifth-generation model.

Although few details are known about the next hatch, “hallmark Mini handling” and the “creative use of space” for a roomy interior are being promised in the run up to its official reveal in 2023.

“Mini is on a path of growth and heading towards a fully electric future,” explained Stefanie Wurst, who is the Head of the Mini brand. “Our iconic Mini three-door hatch maximises the experience for our customers through its electrified go-kart feeling combined with digitalised touchpoints – and a clear focus on sustainability with a minimal environmental footprint.”

Although the Mk5 Mini has been designed with electrification at its core, the heavily disguised prototypes retain the characteristics synonymous with a car that will continue to be assembled in Oxford.

Despite the shift towards cleaner powertrains and technologies, combustion engines will continue to be offered, although these are likely to incorporate mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid set-ups.

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