Bold new Mini concept previews the firm's new Mazda MX-5 rival, which will crown a new range of Mini models
23 May 2014

Mini’s long-held plans to take on the Mazda MX-5 with a uniquely styled roadster model have taken a decisive step towards production reality with the unveiling a stunning two seat concept created in co-operation with legendary Italian design and coach building house Touring Superleggera.

Called the Mini Superleggera Vision, the new one-off Mini is set to make its world premiere at this weekend’s Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este on the shores of Lake Como in Italy alongside parent company BMW’s Vision Future Luxury and Rolls-Royce’s Phantom Drophead Coupé Waterspeed.

Described as blending modern Britishness with traditional Italian design flair, the Superleggera Vision points heavily to a new open-top Mini model conceived as an indirect replacement for the company’s existing roadster and coupe models.

The new roadster is expected to crown a future range of Mini models – all based on common underpinnings offering the choice of either front- or four-wheel drive and powered by a variety of three- or four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines and a secret new electric drivetrain that insiders suggest is a development of that used by BMW’s innovative i3.

In turning to Touring Superleggera for its latest concept, Mini continues a long tradition linking parent company BMW with a long line of tradition steeped Italian design and coach building companies. In recent years it has tapped the expertise of Zagato, Pininfarina and Bertone in the creation of various concepts for the Concorso d’Eleganza.

The new Mini was conceived, created and produced in a project between its Munich-based design department and Touring Superleggera’s coach building works in Milan. The former led the styling of the low slung two seater, while the latter undertook its traditional hand shaped metal sheet construction.

“The Superleggera perpetuates what the classic Mini started 55 years ago: reduction to the essentials. Its minimalistic design embodies the dynamic essence of an automobile. It combines the past and future with traditional coachwork craftsmanship and modern styling,” says Anders Warming, head of Mini design.

As well as hinting to a new dedicated roadster model in the mould of the Mazda MX-5, the Superleggera Vision also establishes themes Mini design boss, Anders Warming, intends to use to progress the company’s existing design language to give future models a more contemporary appearance without abandoning the retro approach that has driven the company’s styling since the British car maker was re-launched under BMW control in 2001.

Many classic Mini design cues have been carried over from the third-generation of the modern day hatchback, including the hexagonal shaped grille, oval shaped headlamps, bonnet stripes (as contours rather than mere decals) and multi-spoke wheels. They are combined with a series of traditional styling touches found on a long history of Touring Superleggera designed and produced models.

Longer and wider than the existing Mini roadster, the Superleggera Vision boasts classic roadster proportions with a long (by Mini standards) probing nose, cabin set well back within the wheelbase and a rear end with minimal overhang.

Overall, the body of the new car is more heavily structured than that of existing Mini models. Prominent elements include a contoured bonnet, heavily flared wheel arches, defined shoulder, distinct swage line running the complete length of the flanks and an abrupt ending rear.

Among the more flamboyant touches are a carbon fibre splitter up front, frameless wrap around windscreen, tail fin attached to the boot deck and underside of the rear bumper as well as tail lamps designed to resemble the Union Jack flag, large wheel houses and 19-inch multi spoke wheels styled to resemble the original Minilite rims and shod with 225/45 R19 Pirelli P-Zero tyres.    

Eschewing the fussy styling treatment brought to production models, Mini has provided the Superleggera Vision with a relatively simple interior that aims to capture the essence of classic coachwork construction. It uses a single untreated sheet of aluminium for the rounded dashboard facia and large centrally mounted monitor that harks back to the instrument panel used on the original Mini. Bars in the doors also pay homage to Mini’s British roots by joining the tail lamps in resembling the Union Jack.

Preferring to focus on the design and materials of its latest concept, Mini has revealed little about the SuperLeggera’s mechanical package, suggesting only that it is electrically powered.

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Comments
30

23 May 2014

...FrWD?? Even if it were 4WD, it would not be as agile or fun to drive as an MX5 and lets face it most people buy MX5s BECAUSE it offers cheap RWD thrills in a proper British Sports Car inspired way...BMW once so fixated on understanding the basic virtues of RWD have missed the point AGAIN. What is WRONG with these people?

24 May 2014
gaco1 wrote:

...FrWD?? Even if it were 4WD, it would not be as agile or fun to drive as an MX5 and lets face it most people buy MX5s BECAUSE it offers cheap RWD thrills in a proper British Sports Car inspired way...BMW once so fixated on understanding the basic virtues of RWD have missed the point AGAIN. What is WRONG with these people?

Most BMW drivers wouldn't know or care which wheels were driven as long as the badge was on the front.
Only Clarkson raves on about the long forgotten 'driving machine' while sliding around deserted airfields with school girlish shrieks.

24 May 2014
brian245 wrote:
gaco1 wrote:

...FrWD?? Even if it were 4WD, it would not be as agile or fun to drive as an MX5 and lets face it most people buy MX5s BECAUSE it offers cheap RWD thrills in a proper British Sports Car inspired way...BMW once so fixated on understanding the basic virtues of RWD have missed the point AGAIN. What is WRONG with these people?

Most BMW drivers wouldn't know or care which wheels were driven as long as the badge was on the front.
Only Clarkson raves on about the long forgotten 'driving machine' while sliding around deserted airfields with school girlish shrieks.

This says more about the quality of BMW 'drivers' than anything else. FWD is Wrong wheel drive. Mazda have already proved that they do a better job of making a sportscar than BMW. Just compare a BMW Z3 or Z4 to the MX5. With the embarrassingly awful Z3, BMW realised they couldn't compete with the MX5 in the small 'MGB' replacement market and went after the 'Austin Healey/240Z replacement market instead and failed again. And that was with RWD. To do a proper job you have to do it properly as Mazda knows and the wannabe Germans have yet to learn.

23 May 2014

...that's horrible.

Sure a lot of those contrived details (Union flag door pulls, shark fin, etc) would be gone if it were to become a production car.

I don't mind all the different variation on a theme MINIs but oddly the first one without the distorted one face fits all front end is a miss for me.

Looks like we'll be getting another MX5.

23 May 2014

Like the concept, nice volume, proportions could be better. I sense BMW now want to confuse/ merge a Sprite or an MG into minis past. Throw in a bit of Jag as well for good measure. Is it growing a stubby D-type fin? Like it but Mini it's not yours so hands off. The back end is the real let down and as we all know the minis are all German, the throw back Britishness is now beginning to stink. I'm not particularly patriotic but I take offense to a German car company using our national flag and identity as a cash cow. It's not right that our flag is turned into part of a mini trademark for BMWs profit. Do the car without Union jacks everywhere and give it a nice bum and I'd be tempted to buy one.

23 May 2014

The front end reminds me of the Spyker Aileron Spyder and I like the rear light treatment.
In regards to it being fwd, I'm sure BMW would be able to make it as fun to drive as the MX5; don't forget the MGF always seemed to manage to impress road testers.

"Why is http://www.nanoflowcell.com not getting more media attention? It could be the future... Now!"

23 May 2014

I'm surprised. I like this. I see no reason why the union jack lamps can't be carried into production, manufacturers are getting pretty adventurous with lighting graphics these days. Maybe we'll see them elsewhere. Interesting design study, MINI do make good concepts but often fail to translate many of the details to production. The Clubman concepts were all very impressive and the production version felt like a bit of a letdown in comparison.


"Work hard and be nice to people"

23 May 2014

Bloody. Hell. And not in a good way.

23 May 2014

As the owner of a MINI Cooper S Roadster I rather like the look of this. No doubt any production variant would lose some of the more eccentric flourishes.

MG Writer

23 May 2014

Forget the MX-5, that's just talk. I think of it as a two seater Mini roadster and I like it, though I prefer the nose treatment in some of the drawings. Love the fin, what's wrong with a bit of whimsy? Cars for this segment are styled to make you go "ooh" rather than optimized for aero, roominess or whatever other function. No I do not cut hair for a living.

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