Mini's future cars will feature a dog as a digital assistant

Spike will debut in a concept car later this month.

BMW Group

Numerous car companies are trying their hands at digital assistants, but Mini is planning something more... characterful. The automaker has unveiled Spike, an English Bulldog-inspired helper coming to future Mini models. While his exact functionality is still unknown, he'll walk you through the "operating concept" of a given car and is meant to foster an "emotional connection." We suspect this pup won't seem so loveable when you're in a hurry, but it might beat the personality-free assistants from other makes.

Spike will make his debut in the cabin of the Mini Concept Aceman at the Shanghai auto show beginning April 18th. He'll appear on both the OLED-based infotainment display and the dashboard. You'll learn more about the canine companion's features later in the year, the company says.

Introduced last year, the Concept Aceman is a compact electric crossover with a minimalist design (there's only a handful of analog controls) and an emphasis on personalization. There are projections on the dashboard, light animations on the nose and a variety of "experience modes" meant to liven up your commute. We wouldn't expect many of these ideas to reach production Minis, but the more angular body, recycled plastic interior and emphasis on tech may translate to the upcoming lineup. Mini has already teased an electric Countryman E with a 313HP dual-motor system and an estimated 280-mile range.

The strategy isn't surprising for parent company BMW, whose concept cars frequently center around a personalized digital experience — see this year's i Vision Dee as an example with its dash-length HUD, voice commands and color-changing exterior. Theoretically, you'll develop an attachment to Spike that keeps you buying Mini cars for the assistant inside, not just the performance on the road.