The Rocketman concept is built around a bespoke carbonfibre monocoque chassis, which is exposed between the front wheels and front doors. A carbonfibre spaceframe is used to for the car’s roof which, in turn, is capped by a clear panel etched with the outline of a Union Jack.
Read the full story on the Mini Paceman concept
It’s just 3.2m long (that’s 11ft 3in to the original Mini’s 10ft) and 1.9m wide (6ft 3in) wide. The rear cabin space is very restricted until the front passenger seat is slid forward, allowing the rear seat behind it to be used. There’s also a basic seat base moulded in carbonfibre behind the driver’s seat, which would allow a fourth passenger to squeeze into the Rocketman for very short journeys.
Front passengers are much better served. The wide cabin and deep dashboard design has allowed the Mini design team to install a completely new dash architecture, which is less monolithic and delivers a much lighter, airier sensation.
Despite the extremely confined rear, Mini’s design team has managed to package a reasonable storage space behind the rear seats. It’s accessed via a giant drawer, which slides out from the concept’s tail and is surprisingly handy.
Julian Rendell blog: The future of BMW and Mini design
The Rocketman’s design language also gives clues to the shape of the future Mini family. While the chic shaping of the Rocketman is more likely to be directly translated into a city car version of the next-generation Mini, the more pronounced ‘landscaping’ of the pronounced front wings and bonnet, the LED-rimmed headlights and the new front graphic, which wraps up the grille and driving lamps into a single unit will all appear on the 2013 Mini.
Inside, the interior will retain the large centre dial but, by 2013, it’s likely to transform from today’s hard-to-read speedo into a dedicated touch screen that merges the sat-nav, audio and internet functions.
As far as the powertrain package is concerned, BMW will say no more than that the Rocketman can accommodate a ‘drive system’ that will deliver 94mpg. However, the concept’s narrow, aerodynamic, carbon fibre wheels give a clear signal that we will also see a super-frugal Mini, most likely powered by BMW’s upcoming three-cylinder diesel engine, possibly lightened with selective use of carbonfibre. Armbrecht would only say that ‘Minimalism’ was one of the brand’s new catchlines.