Mini overloads the senses with fierce-eyed Aceman "electrified go-kart"
Mini debuted the new Concept Aceman this week, exploring an electric crossover that will eventually slot between the Cooper and Countryman. If we ignore the cartoonish color scheme and seriously distracting digitization, the concept presents a sharper, bolder look for Mini, with hexagonal headlamps, broadly cut arches over 20-in wheels and big, bold front lettering. A stripped-down, clean-slate leather-free interior with an oversized infotainment discus brings plenty of personality inside.
"The Mini Concept Aceman provides an initial glimpse of a completely new vehicle," Mini brand chief Stefanie Wurst said in this week's announcement. "This concept car reflects how Mini is reinventing itself for its all-electric future and what the brand stands for: an electrified go-kart feel, an immersive digital experience and a strong focus on a minimal environmental footprint."
Mini's take on an "immersive digital experience" seems incredibly silly and superfluous, but maybe we're just getting old and curmudgeonly. For instance, the interior "experience mode" system uses projection and sound to create three specific ambiances. Personal mode lets the driver upload a personal image motif; pop-up mode shows navigation point of interest (POI) suggestions; and vivid mode creates letter-based graphics during traffic stops and charging breaks.
At some point between changing and experiencing those different modes, the driver tries to look ahead, focus on the road and navigate to the destination.
If you think that type of digitized ambiance stays inside the Aceman doors, you're in for a treat (or disappointment). The exterior lights get in on the action with help from exterior speakers, greeting the driver as they approach with a light and sound show that includes everything from a brightening "cloud of light" to a wink from the headlamp. The show continues when the door opens, proceeding with floor projections, a burst of onscreen color on the OLED display and even a "Hey Friend" greeting.
And after all that extraneous driver self-affirmation? Well ... they drive. From point A to B, presumably without snapping a selfie or changing outfits. What powers the car forward remains a mystery, however, since the Aceman is really just a design exercise loaded with pretty colors and lights.
What we can ascertain from the Aceman is the general direction Mini's design language will take in the electric future. Mini calls it "Charismatic Simplicity," and the design has been pared back from even the simplified styling of the all-electric Mini Cooper SE. A large grille defined only by its illuminated green surround sits between a pair of sharp-cornered geometric headlamps that give the concept a chip on its shoulder while still looking familiarly "Mini."
Additional angles are planted throughout, most noticeably at the wheel arches. Both the rack atop the floating roof and the taillights incorporate the Union Jack, which also appears repeatedly in all that digital light show nonsense.
Inside, Mini stresses simplicity even more, stripping the dashboard down to a sound-bar-inspired door-to-door beam interrupted only by the steering wheel and thin, round OLED infotainment screen. Just below the OLED display, Mini has maintained physical connection with a toggle switchboard for gear selection, drive initiation and audio volume adjustment.
In doing away with all leather, Mini has instead trimmed the dashboard in a textile knit that delivers the soft, inviting comfort of a favorite sweater while serving as a screen for the digital projections. The seats explode to life with bold colors atop a multi-textural combination of flat knit, velvet velour and waffle weave.
Quite fittingly, the Concept Aceman will debut not at an auto show but at the 2022 Gamescom show in Cologne next month. Those itching to dive right into the full Aceman experience can do so in the video below.