• Next-generation MINI Cooper Hardtop
  • Auto show double debut at Tokyo and LA shows
  • Arrives early next year

MINI announced the debut of the third generation of its most popular model, the MINI Hardtop. The British automaker will pull the wraps off the completely redesigned premium compact hatchback on November 18, the 107th birthday of Sir Alec Issigonis, the creator of the original MINI that enjoyed four decades of popularity with motorists. The world premiere, to be held at MINI's Plant Oxford in Great Britain, will be followed by almost simultaneous auto show debuts in Tokyo and Los Angeles. The latest MINI Cooper Hardtop will reach showrooms early next year.

The automaker shared a photo of the new MINI Hardtop earlier this year, though the vehicle was partially covered and disguised. The familiar MINI shape appears to continue in the newest version. It follows Issigonis' original design but with larger proportions. MINI also recently revealed the MINI Vision Concept, which could provide more details. Revealed online, the concept includes a contrasting element between the front fender and door that recalls the extended A-pillar of the original MINI.

Issigonis' basic layout remains, too. Just like the original MINI that debuted in 1959, the new model keeps a transversely mounted front-engine, front-wheel-drive design. That architecture was unusual in 1959, but it has since become the norm, thanks to its efficient use of space.

In addition to celebrating Issigonis' birthday, the events surrounding the premiere will highlight the history of Plant Oxford, the production location for the next-gen MINI Hardtop. The plant celebrates 100 years of automotive production this year.

The original MINI enjoyed a spectacularly long production run. These days, we get quicker updates and redesigns as automakers compete to deliver exciting new products to drivers. Surely, MINI will try to keep intact the vehicle's unique character while improving on the overall driving experience with better functionality and improved efficiency.

What it means to you: The MINI Hardtop is the automaker's most popular model. A completely redesigned version debuts soon and arrives in showrooms early next year.

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Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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