There was more than just the launch of the fifth revision of BMW’s now iconic Mini at the UK plant in Oxford, England. Nov 18 2013 was chosen to mark a couple of other important “birthdays”, too – one of a man, the other of a corporate dream. The main function was, of course, the international launch of the Modern Mini on which Wheels24 has already reported several times; 200 or so motoring mediafolk from around the world – including Wheels24 – were at Plant Oxford on the day and at the three-way birthday party in central London later.Image gallery: 2014 Mini global launch - LondonThe birthdays? Those of Alec Issigonis (later Sir Alec), the genius who penned the first Mini back in the 1950’s and in so doing transformed the concept of how a motor-car should look with its launch in 1959 – he would have been 107.The second was the centenary of carmaking that started up in the ancient riverside English town way back in 1913 and through the years included the Bullnose Morris and the other ‘people’s car’ and mechanical predecessor of the original Issigonis Mini – the Morris Minor.HISTORY LESSONS NEEDED?The London party was just one of three, a rolling worldwide event held sequentially during the night first in the English capital and then, after the sun went down further west, in Los Angeles, California and then Shanghai, China.Whether the younger partygoers in London had ever heard of the genius of Issigonis or the fashions and other folk of the 1960’s as they flashed up on a giant screen is debateable – but they sure as heck liked the car when it was driven out on to a temporary stage.Whether Issigonis would have approved of the metamorphosis of the simple, radio-less, 850cc, minimalist, four-seater, family car he deliberately created into a high-tech, high-performance, compact luxury car for the well-heeled – perhaps not.NEW ARCHITECTUREBMW (Mini’s adoptive parent since 2001) management board production boss Harold Krueger, who introduced two earlier versions of the current Mini ahead of the latest car at Plant Oxford, said: “The Mini is not just a car;, it’s a friend and a way of life around the globe.“Now we have a brand-new Mini on new architecture which will also be used for small BMW’s but Oxford will always be the heart and home of Mini.”The Clubman and Paceman models, however, are made at Magna Steyr in Austria.And to make sure production stays in the UK the equivalent of R12-billion is to be invested in the three UK plants by 2015. Production of the two-door hatch in Cooper and Cooper S formats started as the factory launch function ended and already, worldwide, about 250 000 buyers have signed up for the new Mini.Revisions of other current models will happen as they reach the end of their seven-year life cycles – which should take us to around 2015.THREE-CYLINDER ENGINESSo, what’s new about the next Mini...? Better tech and new, less thirsty, three and two-litre four-cylinder TwinPower turbocharged petrol engines whose fuel consumption is claimed to be 27% less while power has increased by as much as 10%. Safety, BMW also claims, is the best yet not only for the driver and passengers but also for pedestrians.New generation of engines with MINI TwinPower Turbo Technology; tThree models will be available globally for now: a Mini Cooper with a 1499cc. 100kW three-cylinder engine, a Cooper S with a 141kW four-cylinder petrol engine and a 1496cc Cooper D – another three-cylinder but this one an 85kW diesel. Six-speed manual transmissions will be standard, as suits a car with such sporting potential. A six-speed auto or sports automatic transmission will also be available.To back up its “green” credentials, there’s a stop/start function. Countering that, perhaps, is the car’s ability to reach 100km/h in 6.8sec (four-cylinder petrol). The diesel has the potential to sip 3.5 litres/100km with only 92g of CO2 being emitted over that distance. The auto box will automatically decouple when the car is coasting.A rotary switch as the base of the gearshift dictates Sport or Green driving modes (colourfully indicated by mood lighting on the instrument panel / information screen – infotainment control panel which lives where the giant Mini speedometer used to exist. It and other data is now read, conventionally, through the steering-wheel; its central replacement uses a screen that, depending on function display, can be 22cm wide.HEAD-UP DISPLAYOther driving features include stability and traction control, electronic differential lock control and “performance” control. Dynamic shock-absorbers are offered as an option for the first time on a Mini. Light alloy rims are standard – 15” on the Cooper, 16” on the Cooper S though the wheel arches can handle sizes up to 18”.“Driver assistance” features include a head-up data display on the windscreen, camera-based cruise control, auto high beam and road-sign detection, auto parking, reversing camera and collision / pedestrian detection which will provide automatic initial braking.A “newly structured” Mini Connected in-car infotainment program has additional functions: emergency call and Teleservices to use with a permanently installed SIM card; a unique range of functions and the opportunity for ongoing expansion due to apps allowing integration in the car via smartphone; increased driving fun with Mission Control, Dynamic Music, Driving Excitement and a new Mini Connected XL Journey Mate with up-to-date traffic info online.The internet connection also allows links with social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, foursquare and Glympse, the reception of RSS newsfeeds and entertainment features such as AUPEO!, Stitcher, Deezer, Audible, Napster/Rhapsody and TuneIn.Sport mode will also invoke faster auto shift times and harden the “dynamic” shock-absorbers’ resistance.LONGER, WIDER, TALLERThe 2014 Mini is 98mm longer, 44mm wider and 7mm taller than current models and has a 28mm longer wheelbase and wider track (42 / 34mm front / rear) and boot volume has grown by 51 litres to 211 litres though, being a hatchback, the rear seats can be folded and the boot floor adjusted for height to accommodate much more stuff.Exterior dimensions are 3821mm (Cooper S 3850mm) x 1727mm x 1414mm; wheelbase 2495mm.Standard items/other options include auto wipers, parking radar, easy access through the two long doors, power glass roof and roof rails, power/heatable external mirrors, seat heating and aircon, body stripes, roof spoiler, leather upholstery, satnav (looks great on the big central info screen!) and multi-speaker Harmon Kardon audio.Prices for the South African market will only be available nearer the launch date here.