Head of MINI Design Oliver Heilmer on the new MINI Countryman and what we can expect from MINI in the future

Head of MINI Design Oliver Heilmer on the new MINI Countryman and what we can expect from MINI in the future

27.05.2020: “Reduction creates space for emotionality.” The MINI Countryman is the tradition-rich British brand’s largest and most versatile model. And now the new Countryman is ready to hit the road. The car’s design has benefitted fro

“Reduction creates space for emotionality.”

The MINI Countryman is the tradition-rich British brand’s largest and most versatile model. And now the new Countryman is ready to hit the road. The car’s design has benefitted from detail updates, giving its character a sharper edge. Head of MINI Design Oliver Heilmer talks about the MINI Countryman’s new looks, the importance of individual design elements and “reduction” as a fundamental principle of design for future MINI models.


The new MINI Countryman is practical and sporty, and makes excellent use of space. How do you view the significance of this model for the MINI brand?

The Countryman is the largest MINI in our current model range. It’s a family car with a high level of everyday practicality – and the customary MINI twist. But it is also an adventurer in spirit, one you may like to go on an experience with somewhere more rural. And despite its size, it’s still a MINI; it packs its clever functionality into a comparatively small footprint.

With the new MINI Countryman, we’re bringing this character even further to the fore with a host of design elements. At the same time, we’ve adopted a deliberately reduced approach to the design around those elements in order to create more space for them and therefore for the emotionality of the new MINI Countryman.


From the outside, how do you know you’re looking at the new MINI Countryman?

We’ve brought expressive new details to the MINI Countryman which will move it on again in terms of modernity, poise and assurance. We’ve also raised the profile of all those things that give the Countryman its identity as a MINI. At the front end, the car’s focused look is clearly visible from a long way off. The headlights are a clean-sheet design technically and absolutely state of the art.

We have deliberately retained the eye-catching, almost angular headlight contours of the existing Countryman as an identifying and distinguishing feature of the model within the MINI family. The clearly defined radiator grille projects out visually between the headlights, with its distinctive surround in chrome or the appropriately named new Black Line specification.

Change is most apparent in the front apron. In place of the design’s previously horizontal emphasis, we have shifted the focus to verticality and solidity of stance. This means the outer air intakes have grown and now stand upright. And the amount of the car in body colour has increased. The mostly painted finish of the front apron provides a classy border for the new elements.

At the rear, the new tail lights catch the eye immediately. Their abstract take on the Union Jacks translates our British heritage into cutting-edge technology. A special detail here are the glass covers, which replicate the light elements below them like a relief sculpture. The dark shading of the glass underlines the feeling of solidity and exclusivity.

The stylistic underbody protection elements are an important part of the rear apron on the MINI Countryman – especially on examples with the ALL4 package – and we’ve added even greater prominence to this area of the new MINI Countryman. Like in the front apron, we’re emphasising verticality by standing the reflectors upright and positioning them far to the outer edges of the rear.

One small highlight of the car is the new wheel design we’re offering exclusively as part of the ALL4 package. These new rims in modern bi-colour design are visually powerful and exude solidity. The contrast between dark grey spokes and bare machined surfaces is very modern and spotlights the character of the MINI Countryman through its details.


How important are details to the overall effect?

Details contribute massively to the effect of a vehicle as a whole. You can almost create the impression of a totally new product just by working on details. Indeed, it is the details that tell you what era or generation a vehicle belongs to. Take the lights. They not only give a car its face but also say a lot about the vintage of its engineering. Or there’s the use of chrome. Chrome accents have been a big theme at MINI for a long time.

But with Black Line, we’re offering the new MINI Countryman with an interesting alternative. This equipment variant turns all the chrome elements high-gloss black, which lends the whole of the exterior even greater sportiness and modernity – in particular in combination with the new exterior paint shade Sage Green metallic.


This year, a fully electric version of the MINI with its own distinctive design has gone on sale. Will some of this model’s styling find its way into the MINI Countryman S E plug-in hybrid?

With the MINI Countryman S E we’re taking our lead from the MINI Cooper SE. So there’s an E badge on the charging flap front left and an S – standing for the Cooper S engine – in Electric Yellow on the front grille. The electric genes of the MINI are therefore immediately apparent.

We have also made the part-electric heart of the car clearly visible in the interior. The fully digital instrument cluster is particularly prominent in bringing the modernity of the drive system into the cabin. However, the drive system-specific design elements should not overshadow the overall concept; the customer is first and foremost deciding to buy a MINI – the brand and the experience. The drive system comes lower down the list of importance.


What interior changes have been made for the new MINI Countryman?

The Countryman is the youngest member of the MINI family, and as before you can see that clearly in its modern interior ambience. Its striking appearance, with the vertical air vents, provides the ideal setting for the new fully digital instrument cluster and newly designed circular instrument – the icon at the centre of the car.

We’ve made the area above and below the monitor a lot less busy. There are no longer any individual controls here, just a flush-fitting high-quality touch surface. This change gives the whole centre console area a much more visually impressive and modern look.


What does the new MINI Countryman tell us about the future of MINI?

What the MINI Countryman already shows and what we are looking to build on further at MINI in the future is “reduction” as a basic principle. By leaving things out, the elements that are left can have the best possible impact. I’m thinking of the vehicle’s character and what you can experience with it.

Cleaning up the styling is a first step in this direction. Then comes functional reduction. The underlying principle here is: focus on the important stuff. Everything else takes a back seat.


What can we expect from MINI in the future?

In future we want people to see MINI above all as an experience. Reduction – leaving things out – is key for us here. But that in no way means going without or missing out. Rather, leaving out creates space for maximum emotionality. Instead of “What can we do more of?”, we’re focusing on “What is really necessary for the customer to be able to – and to really want to – form a personal bond with their MINI?”.

We see MINI in the future as a sort of “partner in crime”. This personal approach is what MINI is all about: the customer should see themselves in their MINI and be able to build up a connection even stronger than it is today.


One last question: What would be your preferred specification for the new MINI Countryman, the “designer’s choice”?

I personally like the MINI Countryman as a Cooper S (131 kW/178 hp, 0 – 100 km/h in 7.3 seconds, top speed: 222 km/h, fuel consumption: 6.5 – 6.2 litres/100 km, CO2 emissions: 149 – 142 g/km) and in Sage Green with the ALL4 package and Black Line trim.

My choice for the interior would be MINI Yours Leather Lounge in Carbon Black. This variant is a real head-turner. For me, it sums up the combination of the MINI twist and the feeling of adventure and off-road attitude; you could say it epitomises the character of the new MINI Countryman.


Steven Woerns- photo Mini

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/oliver-heilmer-on-new-mini-countryman-future---207203.html

27.05.2020 / MaP

More News

Porsche launches diversity team challenge with footballer Sami Khedira
Diversity of perspectives at Porsche: success factor and driver of innovationTo mark the 8th German Diversity Day this Tuesday, Porsche is launching a diversity team challenge. Approximately 32,000 employees at Porsche’s locations in Germany have be more >>
The Targa concept reinterprets the Porsche driving experience
History of the Porsche TargaPorsche introduced the 911 Targa at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt in September 1965. The Targa is neither a cabriolet nor a coupé, neither a hard top nor a saloon, but something completely new: the firs more >>
Making of RS: How Audi Sport GmbH shapes the character of its RS models
The RS models from Audi Sport GmbH are the dynamic spearheads of their respective product lines. They have a strong character that consists of distinct design differentiation, full everyday usability, effortless top performance, and a thrilling driving experience. This results from a relentless focus on minute details by the designers and development and test engineers, and it is perfecte more >>
SKODA AUTO Volkswagen India resumes production at both locations
– INDIA 2.0 project still on track› Production at the Pune site to resume on 1 June; production of the SUPERB already underway in Aurangabad› Health and safety of the workforce remains a more >>
Mercedes-Benz Museum Inside -Rear-view mirror
    Recommendation from British racing driver and author Dorothy Levitt back in 1909    Further development for seeing better and being seen better    Cameras and screens instead of rear-view mirrors in 1996 in the F 200 Imagination research vehicle    “33 Extras”: Exhibits more >>
MAZDA RX-Vision GT3 virtual Concept online
    Mazda’s latest virtual racing car – the RX-Vision GT3 is available in Gran Turismo Sport    Based on the 2015 Mazda RX-Vision concept, virtual racer jointly developed with Polyphony Digital    Can be used in the FIA certified Gran Turismo Championship in the 2020 virtual season more >>
Risk of 1.1 million unroadworthy vehicles returning to the UK highways
    MOT exemption means many will not be checked for up to six months    49% of drivers receiving MOT extension will go to the end of the period without getting car tested    Majority of drivers think extension should be ended now more >>
Test drive the Radical SR3 XX from the comfort of your home
Be amongst the first to experience the new SR3 XX driver environment. From our virtual launch event in collaboration with sim racing platform rFactor2, you can race the SR3 XX for the first time on Sunday 31 May as part of a livestreamed Radical racing event.Click on t more >>
RADICAL SR3 XX: The World's best-selling race car just got smarter
•    The world’s best-selling race car just got smarter thanks to the rollout of new technology •    New cockpit and controls put more functionality at driver’s fingertips•    PDM electrical architecture saves weight, increases performance and data acquisition• &nb more >>
Toyota to restart its last two European manufacturing plants on May 25 and 26
    Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK Burnaston plant (TMUK Burnaston) and Toyota Peugeot Citroën Automobile in Kolin, Czech Republic (TPCA) will begin operations in the week commencing May 25 &nbs more >>
127th Canton Fair to Enable Barrier-free Global Sell and Buy Experience Online
The 127th China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair) will launch its new official website, along with Buyer’s Guide on how to use the platform by the end of May. Powered by information technology, the new website will provide one-stop trading ex more >>
A rainbow of Bentleys as community support continues
    Seven vibrant shades define a Bentley rainbow    Bentley’s unmatched paint palette traverses the entire spectrum    Rainbow-themed winner of Bentley Mulliner Bacalar design contest    Support of local community continues during Covid-19 crisis more >>
McLaren teams up with BBC Blue Peter to launch "Supercar of the Future" competition for children
    One lucky winner will get their design produced as a clay model by McLaren’s top design team    Design Director Rob Melville and McLaren materials scientist Ella Podmore star in competition launch film    Competition created to demonstrate use of science, engineering and design skills in an exciting rea more >>
Every Volvo model now comes with a 112MPH speed limit and care key
Every new Volvo car now comes with a limited top speed of 112mph, as Volvo Cars delivers on its promise made last year to introduce such a limitation and goes beyond regulation and legislation to help close the remaining gap to zero serious more >>
Mazda starts production of the MX-30 EV
    Mazda’s first all-electric production vehicle – the MX-30 is a stylish and versatile SUV    Powered by e-Skyactiv electric drive technology, the MX-30 will arrive in the UK early 2021    Limited to 500 cars in the UK, the £27,495* Mazda MX-30 First Edition is available to pre-order now more >>
Euro NCAP Presents Latest Overhaul of Its Safety Rating - with video
Every two years, the European New Car Assessment Programme updates and toughens its test protocols. This year new tests are introduced to address some long-standing needs in occupant protection, improve post-crash protection and promote the latest advanced driver assistance technology. more >>
AIWAYS joins Hertz in mission to ‘Electrify Corsica’
 •    Project will help reduce pollution and develop Corsica as a hub of e-mobility •    Hertz Corsica plans to make 70% of its rental fleet electric by 2022 AIWAYS, the Shanghai-based per more >>
Groupe Renault to produce masks at Flins to guarantee its needs
Groupe Renault today announced the acquisition of a mask production line to meet its needs and guarantee the health and safety of its employees on its sites and in its commercial network in Europe (industrial and tertiary sites, and the Renault and private dealership network). more >>
Safety first - Skoda unveils class-leading technology in new Octavia
    Fourth-generation Octavia features range of brand-new advanced safety technologies       Turn Assist, Exit Warning and Collision Avoidance Assist all make debut    more >>
New Opel Vivaro Combi: Travel in Style
    Flexible van for only €26,370 (RRP incl. VAT in Germany)    Nine seats, three lengths, with 1.90m height underground parking access    Multimedia infotainment with “OpelConnect” and top assistance systems    Frugal yet strong turbo diesel powertrains more >>
How a 100% Made by Abarth spoiler comes about
•    All the secrets of the new Spoiler ad Assetto Variabile fitted to the iconic Abarth 695 70° Anniversario.•    Tested in the FCA wind tunnel in Orbassano, near Turin, and on the Vallelunga circuit near Rome, the Spoiler ad Assetto Variabile improves grip on fast mixed courses and stability at high speeds. more >>
Technology is Key to Ford's Unwavering Focus on Production Quality and Customer Satisfaction
•    Ford's Silverton Assembly Plant uses an advanced Fits Gate system on its assembly line in Pretoria to measure the gap and flushness between all sheet metal components of the Ranger and Everest•    Handheld laser measurement gauges are used by operators on either side of the vehicle who move from the front to the back m more >>
Rolls-Royce apiary project observes World Bee Day
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars will join conservationists, naturalists, growers and apiculturists around the globe in observing World Bee Day on 20 May 2020.    United Nations General Assembly has declared 20 May as World Bee D more >>
Ferrari Museums in Maranello and Modena reopen
New preventative measures in place for visitors and a thank you to healthcare workers.The Ferrari museums open their doors to the public today, in line with Italian government regulations. After closing on February 24 in c more >>
Anomaly London new creative and digital agency for MINI
British premium brand appoints Anomaly London as its new lead international communications agency.The British premium automobile brand MINI will be working together with a new creative and digital lead agency from June 2020. Anomaly London ba more >>
Porsche “Behind the Scenes”: further enhancements to customer portal
Individual car pictures from Porsche production enhance customer anticipation The online “My Porsche” platform is now becoming even more attractive: the new “Behind the Scenes” function gives customers an exclusive insight into pro more >>
SEAT reinvents drive-in cinemas in Germany
    SEAT and the German television channel SAT.1 presented an exclusive concert with the German pop star Tim Bendzko    The live concert took place on 15th May at Düsseldorf's drive-in cinema and was available in live streaming    This activity has been rolled out in complete safety, respecting social distancing r more >>
Isuzu Voted As The Brand With The Best Sales People
Isuzu has been voted as "The brand which has the best sales people" in a consumer survey conducted by cars.co.za as part of it annual Ownership Satisfaction Survey conducted in 2019.The survey measures and tracks a wide range of issues of importance t more >>
Honda Dealerships South Africa are open for business
Honda Motor Southern has confirmed that all nationwide dealerships have resumed operations.This is after the The Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Mr. Ebrahim Patel announced that certain trading activities on vehicles will be permitted during Aler more >>
Contact-free, vandal-proof and eco-friendly - the hydro-alcoholic gel bollard arrives on the streets of France
Designed to help in the fight against COVID-19 - AMCO/LBA Group unveils Miss CleanWhile the COVID-19 crisis is hitting France hard, AMCO/LBA Group has been busy dreaming up ideas and practical solutions to fight the coronavirus virus or to simplify the life more >>
Golf GTI with new Vehicle Dynamics Manager
Unmistakable GTI: now in the eighth generation. Golf GTI - The vehicle is a near-production concept car. Networked Vehicle Dynamics Manager guarantees a new level of added performance  Design of new Golf GTI1 is charac more >>
BMW Welt is opening up again for all visitors and is showing its confidence with a lighting display.
• BMW Welt will be open daily from 8 am to 8 pm from May 15. • There will be a lighting display at the Double Cone from May 14 to 24. • A pulsating heartbeat as a symbol of confidence. &bul more >>
Lorinser presents 21-inch rims with retro features for S-Class and Co.
Luxury with timeless eleganceThe Mercedes vehicle range is dynamic as never before, and the expressive body designs also have great appeal. And yet, the era of the W140, W126, W124, Mercedes 190 and Co. was regarded as a golden age by man more >>
Morgan raises £1.39M for BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief's Coronavirus relief effort
    A significant £1.39m has been raised through the giveaway of an all-new Morgan Plus Four as part of BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief’s ‘The Big Night In’ appeal, an amount which will be matched by the UK government to support the coronavirus relief effort    All proceeds will go more >>
How Artificial Bird Poop Keeps Your Paintwork Safe in the Real World
•    Bird poop can seriously damage your vehicle's paintwork.•    Laboratory-developed bird poop is tested on Ford vehicles' paintwork, to ensure that the paintwork protects your car and stays shiny.•    Regularly wash your vehicle and gently remove harmful looking substances from the paintwork imm more >>
Rolls-Royce Young Designer competition extended to June 1st
    Rolls-Royce Motor Cars extends deadline for entries to its Young Designer Competition due to exceptional response    Competition has already attracted submissions from over 2,000 aspiring designers in over 70 co more >>
The inside story on the McLaren GT's unique and high-tech interior materials
    McLaren design philosophy of ‘everything for a reason’ accelerates innovation in interior design, with introduction of cashmere, SuperFabric® and different types of leather   &nbs more >>
Ford to restart UK operations
All European production facilities running under new health and safety protocols    Production planned to restart at Ford’s Dagenham and Bridgend engine plants on May 18    Ford global standards on social d more >>
Auto Retail Sector ready to get Britain moving again as NFDA and SMMT publish safe restart guidance
    New automotive sector-specific guidance for vehicle retailers published by NFDA and SMMT today.     Dealerships ready to welcome back staff and customers, with comprehensive safety measures covering showroom interact more >>
2001-2023 copyright automobilsport.com