Mini’s Vision Urbanaut has three ‘drive modes’—and only one is for driving

It’s immune to travel restrictions
by Stephen Dobie | Jul 3, 2021
PHOTO: Mini
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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 has made one for real, and it’ll be displayed in Berlin so that passersby can have a proper (sanitized) 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.

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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.

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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 has not done anything as fuddy-duddy as describe how the Urbanaut is propelled (electricity is the odds-on favorite, 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, depending on whether you want to nap, dance, or actually drive the blooming thing. The Vision Urbanaut’s 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 Carlo glory is in the past, and this is its best hope of having a future. We very much welcome your thoughts...

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NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.

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PHOTO: Mini
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