That's because they are. What you see here are some of the official handouts given to the media by Mini. The current owner of the brand, BMW, says its Vision concept car provides a glimpse of future Minis.

We'd say the third-generation Mini

, to be more precise, following reports that spy shots of a lightly disguised prototype were snapped by automotive paparazzi in Europe.

Sure, but you can't blame Mini for that because it's been a winning formula ever since the legendary British car was reinvented back in 2000.

Many of Mini's hallmark design elements remain unchanged in the Vision: the roof separated from the body, for instance; and the hexagonal front grille of the classic Mini which incorporates the bumper and auxiliary lights.

A new feature _ which BMW is steadily installing in all its cars (including the 4-series Coupe driven on pages 6 and 7) _ is the channelling of air from the front vents to the side gills.

And just like we saw in those spy shots, you can expect the round, daytime-running LED lights to make it into the third-gen Mini, due on Thai forecourts early next year.

It does, but let's not get totally carried away yet because the Vision is merely a concept car, remember: it's a trial of design elements, some of which may not be followed through on.

The first notable feature is the simplified fascia (which should make it through to the production model because the current version is sort of flawed, ergonomically),  the highlights of which are a "floating" console and dials which create a 3D effect.
Then there's the disco-lit floor which seems more fantasy than reality, but we'd like to be proven wrong on this point because the Mini, after all, is all about being funky.

Another interesting facility is what Mini calls "driving experience control" which allows the driver to change the colour of the interior ambient lighting. We say "interesting" because Mercedes-Benz has just introduced this gimmick in its latest S-class.

Since the purpose of unveiling the Vision is all to do with design, no technical information has been divulged yet. However, we've heard that today's six-speed automatic transmission will be upgraded to an eight-speed, as in BMW's latest cars.

The performance-orientated Cooper models are expected to keep the much-lauded 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, petrol-turbo engine that they share with Peugeot and Citroen.

Entry-level Minis might be seeing BMW's newly developed 1.5-litre, three-pot motor for the sake of lowered fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

There's no word on that yet, even though the Countryman SUV is set to become the first Mini ever to roll out of BMW's factory in Rayong.

Since the Hatch is the second most popular Mini derivative here, after the Countryman, there's a likelihood that some people at Mini will be pushing to do the same with the three-door Hatch.

If the Hatch continues to be imported in fully built-up form from the UK, the asking price for it will be annoyingly higher than that for the Countryman.


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