Welcome to yet another electric autonomous pod-like concept thing, this time from MINI. The Vision Urbanaut is a “digital vision vehicle [likely meaning it exists only as a CAD model] that offers more interior space and versatility than ever before, but still on a minimal footprint”. Right then.
MINI says it “sees its future self primarily as an enabler of and companion for unforgettable times” or “MINI Moments”. So the Vision Urbanaut has three modes, or “Moments”, that affect how the car behaves.
“Chill” is for work or relaxation and “Vibe” is centred around spending time with others. Both of those modes are for when you’re parked up. “Wanderlust” is where the Urbanaut becomes a car. You can drive it or it can drive you.
One big sliding door on the passenger’s side is the only way in. There are four seats, and, says MINI, three distinct areas. Up front is what’s known as the “Daybed” – the front seats swivel and dashboard lowers to create what looks like a corner sofa. You can also open the windscreen upwards, like an old Land Rover, when you’re parked.
The back is supposed to be the “Cosy Corner”. The two rear seats can be manipulated to create a kind of chaise, and there’s a textile-covered loop over the top with built-in LED lighting. The two areas are connected by an airy central section with a flip-down table, plant and circular info display that doubles as a reading light.
There aren’t many buttons, of course. You select which “Moment” you want by placing a special token in a slot on the table – this changes the mood lighting inside the car, plus the fragrance that’s pumped into the cabin and info displays. You have to move the seats manually. On the outside, the headlights, rear lights and wheels (yes, wheels) take on different colours and motifs.
STORY Tom Harrison