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It's been a minute since we last saw camouflaged prototypes of the next Mini Cooper. We know the iconic hatchback is coming soon in both combustion and pure electric flavors. It was believed there would be some notable styling differences between the models, but new spy photos suggest that's not the case.

Chief among the differences, aside from the grille, are the taillights. A leaked image from December 2021 showed the back of an electric Cooper S with edgy, diamond-shaped taillights. Spy photos of next-gen combustion-powered Coopers from earlier in 2022 showed taillights in Mini's traditional rounded rectangular shape. However, it appears we've been duped all along because the images below show the new diamond lights on prototypes with fuel-burning engines.

Gallery: Next-Gen Mini Cooper ICE New Spy Photos

There's some clever camouflage happening here, but look closely and you'll see the new taillights beneath the coverings that mimic the old style. That also means the gas-powered Cooper will have a restyled rear hatch necessary to house those lenses. But how do we know we're dealing with combustion engines and not EVs? An exhaust pipe is tucked behind the rear fascia, and if these cars were parked we might not see it. However, these prototypes are being loaded onto a trailer and the temps must be a bit chilly. Faint exhaust plumes are visible just behind the rear wheel on the left side.

That's not to say the combustion-powered Minis won't have electricity. We're told that every new Cooper will offer at least a 48-volt, mild hybrid powertrain. As for all-electric models, they will retain familiar Mini styling but ride on a dedicated electric platform. We believe two variants will be offered – a base Cooper packing a smaller battery with lower output and a range under 200 miles. The electric S could exceed 200 hp and offer a range approaching 250 miles. There's no word yet on what kind of power to expect from combustion-powered Minis.

A new convertible is confirmed for 2025, but before that arrives we need to see the new hardtop. It's been over a year since our first next-gen sighting, so a debut could be just weeks away at this point. Depending on the timing, the new Cooper could be either a 2023 or 2024 model-year vehicle.

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