When spy photos of a new Mini come up, there’s really no way to miss that it’s a Mini. The brand’s design direction has evolved very slowly over the years, which brings us to this Cooper five-door. Like the three-door, the Mini is getting a minor nip and tuck. We think this one, however, might have something else in store. More on that in a bit.

We just caught glimpses of three-door test vehicles on June 29, though one vehicle in that fleet was a five-door. The shot was head-on, not giving a good look in profile (and no look at the rear) so this is our first real taste of the changes. Expect a tweaked front fascia with a larger grille and vertical vents at the corners, possibly housing LED driving lamps. At the rear, the familiar centre-exit exhaust remains but the mesh insert moves higher on the fascia. Reflectors are relocated, and that’s about it.

Of course, these changes are specific to the Cooper S model, but is this a Cooper S? On the rear hatch we can clearly see the Cooper S badge hidden beneath black tape, but our spy sources believe something else is happening beneath the skin. Rather than boasting the 189-bhp (141-kilowatt) turbocharged four-pot, this prototype could have the same plug-in hybrid powertrain of the slightly larger Countryman SE. As such, 220 bhp (164 kW) of petrol and electric power could be under the bonnet.

Gallery: Mini Cooper SE 5-Door Spy Photos

With this being our first sighting, we don’t have much else to go on for the likelihood of the hybrid powertrain. Offering this electrified setup in a performance package could help Mini meet strict WLTP regulation, and the five-door could offer a bit more practicality to efficiency-minded buyers. It’s also possible that the PHEV could retain a Cooper S designation as seen on the tailgate, or this could be a typical Cooper S.

In any case, it’s possible Mini could go public with its updated lineup later this year.