It's cheaper to refresh the current model than develop a new one.
The Mini Hardtop is apparently getting another styling refresh following updates for the 2019 model year. These spy shots catch a bunch of camouflaged models together.
Judging from the covering, the major change to the refreshed Hardtop is a new front fascia and grille. Unfortunately, the camouflage makes seeing the exact changes very difficult. There are now vertical inlets in the corners of this S JCW model, but the engineers conceal the styling of the middle section.
At the back, there's a new, mesh-like section that runs the width of the vehicle above the exhaust pipes. Otherwise, the company doesn't appear to be changing much.
Gallery: Mini Hardtop Refresh Spy Shots
The reason for this refresh is that Mini is extending the life of its current models beyond the usual average lifespan of six years. The double hit of Brexit and the coronavirus outbreak is causing Mini's parent company BMW to cut costs with a goal of saving €12 billion by the end of 2022. Tweaking the existing vehicles is a lot cheaper than developing an entirely new one.
The 2019 refresh for the Mini Hardtop was rather minor. The designers installed new headlights and taillights. There was some new interior trim, too. In terms of tech, an upgraded infotainment system has a standard 6.5-inch screen or an optional 8.8-inch display. Given these small tweaks, the company has lots of room for bigger changes this time. Although, these spy shots don't suggest anything revolutionary is happening.
Mini needs all the help it can get because sales are on the decline. In the US in 2019, deliveries were down 17.4 percent to 36,092 vehicles. Things were even worse in Q1 2020 when the volume dropped 35.1 percent year-over-year.