The F56 MINI Hatch has been with us for four years now. That’s plenty, especially for such a fashionable item – so Cowley is giving its bread-and-butter model a timely nip and tuck, as these images show.

Our European spy photographers, camped at the Nürburgring, captured a John Cooper Works mule pounding the track wearing a new pair of headlights – these sport a new oval LED projector design previewed on the recently-unveiled JCW GP Concept. Around the back, there are new tail lights, possibly featuring the Union Jack-inspired design found on both the JCW GP and MINI Electric show cars.

Apart from the redesigned lamps, there are no other discernible changes, but the regular One, Cooper and Cooper S models should also receive reprofiled front and rear bumpers. Also expect an expanded trim and upholstery palette on the inside, plus some revised switchgear and new infotainment systems.

These may seem like incremental changes, but MINI will likely be saving the biggest upgrades under the bonnet. The facelifted Hatch is set to be the first car to receive BMW’s new range of engines announced last year, just as the current car introduced Munich’s then-new modular engine family.

Innovations on petrol engines include an exhaust manifold and turbocharger integrated into the cylinder head, a higher-pressure direct-injection system, new balancer shafts for three-cylinder engines and a quieter single-piece timing chain drive.

These changes not only result in an up to 5% reduction in fuel consumption and emissions, but also boost outputs by up to 7 hp and 20 Nm of torque, which would boost power outputs on the JCW model to 238 hp and 340 Nm. A six-speed manual gearbox will almost certainly come as standard, but the current six-speed automatic should be replaced by the newer eight-speeder from the Clubman and Countryman.