MINI John Cooper Works Concept (© BMW Group)Click to enlarge picture

MINI apparently has some big plans for the next-generation John Cooper Works hatchback.

MINI's newest hot hatch will be putting in its debut appearance at the Detroit Auto Show in mid-January — or at least a "concept" version of the next-generation John Cooper Works model based on the British marque's all-new platform.

Sadly, MINI is holding back on much of what we'd most like to know about the new model. Beyond reference to its "go-kart feeling," and "technology lifted straight from the race track," the BMW subsidiary's press release holds back powertrain details.

What we do learn — backed up by these images — is that the MINI JCW Concept adopts a Bright Highways Grey exterior accented with bright Chili Red details that include racing stripes and a contrasting red and white roof. There are 18-inch alloy wheels, large air intakes replacing the standard hatchback's fog lamps and LED headlamps.

An upgraded aero package includes side skirts, a roof-mounted spoiler, a diffuser insert in the rear bumper and a black grille frame. The John Cooper Works hatchback also gets red calipers on its sports brakes.

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Another intriguing details, according to the MINI press release, is the twin-pipe sports exhaust system which includes a JCW silencer system.

"With the new elite sports model destined to benefit from further development," hints MINI, "these features suggest its enticingly sporting aura will not be restricted to visual features: an unmistakable engine soundtrack promises to share center stage."

It's been only a matter of a month since we got our first look at the "base" MINI hatchback. Based on a new platform developed in cooperation with German parent BMW, the next-generation hardtop didn't deliver many visual surprises but will bring to market some new engines and advanced connectivity and other high-tech systems, MINIpromises.

The new MINI hardtop measures 151.9 inches, nose-to-tail, 68 inches in width and 55.7 inches high. That is 4.5 inches longer, 1.7 inches wider and 0.3 inches higher than the outgoing model, while the wheelbase has been stretched 1.1 inches to 98.2 inches. The maker says this allows for larger seats, more shoulder and foot room — and a major improvement in cargo space. The boot, as the British like to call it, jumps from the old car's 3 cubic feet to 8.7 cf.

The standard-issue hatch will offer buyers a choice of a 134-horsepower, three-cylinder package, and a 189-horsepower four-cylinder powertrain. Buyers will have the option of either a 6-speed manual or an optional 6-speed automatic.

So, what might we expect under the hood of a production JCW? The current model is powered by a 208-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-four. We're betting the 2015 model will put out even more power — and offer a wider torque band.

But we're apparently going to have to wait for next month's unveiling at what is officially known as the North American International Auto Show to find out what all that new technology might be.