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Mini's 'living room' concept car is truly bewildering

With the end of 2020 finally in sight (thank goodness), you're no doubt ready to move on and look to the future. And judging by the number of concept cars we've seen in recent months, it seems car manufacturers feel the same. The latest comes from British brand Mini – and it might just be the strangest yet.

In a marked departure from its iconic, tiny cars, the Mini Vision Urbanaut concept is a fully-fledged people carrier. And a living room. And a... skateboard? Yep, we're confused too. All we know is that its tall profile doesn't resemble your average Mini. (If you fancy creating your own zany concept, our guide to the best 3D modelling software is here to steer you in the right direction.)

Mini Vision Urbanaut concept

Does this look like a Mini to you? (Image credit: Mini)

Calling the Vision Urbanaut a demonstration of the company's passion for "clever use of space," the BMW-owned Mini says that the car is designed to take up as little room as possible. The innovative, minimalist design of the exterior encloses an inside where "every feature fulfils a clear function".

Revealed as part of BMW's Next Gen web series, the Vision Urbanaut features no shortage of futuristic design touches. The windscreen can be lifted to create a "street balcony", while the seats can be swivelled to face one-another – presumably not while driving. And if you get tired, the dashboard can lower into a 'daybed' (again, presumably not while driving). The car rolls on what Mini calls "skateboard wheels," which illuminate depending on the driving mode. 

While the exterior of the car is certainly unusual (those grills on the back aren't too far removed from the 'scales' of Mercedes-Benz's terrifyingly reptilian AVATAR concept), the inside sounds truly unique. Not only does Mini see it as a portable "living room", but it has given the three driving modes some rather aspirational titles: Vibe, Chill and Wanderlust. The first two adjust the layout of the interior for static use (ie. chilling or vibing), while Wanderlust is actually designed for driving.

Mini Vision Urbanaut concept

Could the Vision Urbanaut be the future of people carriers? (Image credit: Mini)

With 2020 accelerating the world of remote working (here's how to work from home like a pro, by the way), it's unsurprising to see car manufacturers going for a slightly more 'homely' look. That said, a world in which we choose to relax and even sleep in our cars still feels a touch dystopian for our liking – especially when said car has is designed to take up "as little room as possible".

Still, while the Vision Urbanaut's combination of tiny design and supposedly relaxing interior is a little confusing, it certainly looks an appealing option for excursions and day trips. Like Porsche's recent people carrier concept, it's an unexpected departure from the company, and a tantalising glimpse of what the future of car design might look like. But as with all concept cars, we'll simply have to wait and see whether the Mini Vision Urbanaut will ever hit the road. 

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