The Mini Vision Urbanaut is immune to travel restrictions | Top Gear
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The Mini Vision Urbanaut is immune to travel restrictions

Forget driving modes, the Urbanaut has 'moments', only one of which involves transport

Published: 29 Jun 2021
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Last year, Mini concocted something called the Vision Urbanaut. Essentially a Mini van-cum-mood room, it lived in the digital world only and slightly rattled our brains as we tried in vain to figure it out.

So Mini’s made one for real, and it’ll be displayed in Berlin so that passers-by can have a proper (sanitised) poke around it in an attempt to properly figure what the heck it’s for.

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See, Mini’s explanation that “it brings the user’s personal space into the car and opens up various possibilities for them, from creating an urban oasis to experiencing freedom in the ‘Wanderlust’ moment” only goes so far. Especially when ‘wanderlust’ is a potentially upsetting concept as we speak.

In fact, Wanderlust is the only mode in which the Urbanaut can be driven. This is a car that, in most of its ‘drive modes’ isn’t even mobile. It’s a car immune to travel restrictions, in short.

We’ll attempt to explain it without getting bogged down in the marketing speak, for a car like this invites a lot of marketing speak. Mini’s not done anything like as fuddy-duddy as describe how the Urbanaut is propelled (electricity is the odds-on favourite, you’d think), instead focusing on its “carefully honed approach to fragrance and sound”.

Instead of Eco, Normal and Sport you choose between Chill, Vibe and Wanderlust, dependent on whether you want to nap, dance or actually drive the blooming thing. The interior mood lighting, air freshener and sound system all alter their settings in accordance with your choice of setting. Sorry, ‘moment’.

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“In the Chill moment, the vehicle wraps the user in the subtle soundscapes of a forest,” we’re told, “with rustling leaves and flowing water filling the interior – a fitting complement to the dimmable forest canopy effect.”

Anyone still running an original Mini van may know the feeling of rustling leaves and flowing water filling the interior all too well, and that those particular moments aren’t, in fact, ‘chill’.

But hey, we’re just being grumpy curmudgeons. Perhaps Mini’s Monte glory is in the past, and this is its best hope of having a future. We very much welcome your thoughts below…

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