Currently reading: Mini plans new city car concept
A new smaller, entry-level Mini concept will be launched at the Geneva motor show in March

Mini’s entry-level model is under construction as a concept in preparation for a debut at the Geneva motor show next March, can reveal.

The new car - plans for which were exposed by Autocar in May - will be based on a modified version of the existing hatchback’s front-engined/front-wheel-drive platform, but will have a shorter wheelbase among other detailed architectural changes.

See the Mini Spiritual concept

The car has been conceived as part of BMW’s broad-based Project i mobility initiative, which has also spawned the more hi-tech, carbonfibre-intensive Mega City Vehicle – a car with which the new Mini shares very little, according to Autocar sources.

Little else is known about the new Mini’s exact layout at this stage. But engineers involved in the development of current Mini models concede it would be very difficult to create a front-engined, front-wheel-drive, four-seat city car shorter than today’s 3700mm-long hatch while adhering to all relevant crash test criteria, both in Europe and North America.

This tends to indicate the new Mini will receive a two-seat interior in a move mirroring that of the Smart Fortwo – just one of a number of possible rivals.

Read new Mini range unveiled, plus see the pics

Another possibility is a three-seat configuration like that of the Toyota iQ. Warning that the urban concept’s future production is anything but secure, Mini officials say they will monitor reaction to the car shown in Geneva before making any hard and fast decisions on a production future.

“The idea to create a highly compact Mini model is one that has been on the agenda for quite a while,” said one source.

“On the outside it would appear a natural fit for the brand but profitability is a major concern at this end of the market. It’s one thing making a good looking small car but it’s another thing making money on it.”

Although the new Mini and Megacity vehicle aim at a similar market segments, the concept of the former planned for Geneva is expected to showcase a new small-capacity petrol engine, while the latter is being developed primarily as plug-in electric vehicle.

Read Autocar's Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 first drive

As well as hinting at Mini’s plans for a new urban based small car, the new concept car planned for Geneva is set to feature the company’s future design lineage, which BMW Group design boss, Adrian Von Hooydonk, describes as being an evolution of the existing retro-infused theme, as seen on today’s hatch, Clubman and Countryman.

Mini’s plans for a Smart Fortwo-rivalling city car hark back to the company’s earlier rear-engined/rear-wheel drive Spirtual concepts, revealed at the Geneva show shortly after BMW’s purchase of the Rover Group in 1994.

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PRODIGY 17 July 2010

Re: Mini plans new city car concept

Whatever it comes out like, it will be an insult to Issigonis (spelling??) and it'll be a case of form over function.

I was gutted when the 1st new Mini came out, I was hoping it would be a production version of the Spiritual concepts. But hey what do I know, BMW have made a lot of money from the current pastiche.

MHanna 16 July 2010

Re: Mini plans new city car concept

RobotBoogie wrote:
part of the problem in selling really small cars in a modern market is one of perceived safety

Couldn't agree more. The idea of putting my kids in the back of ANY of these tiny cars is just unthinkable to me. Their heads are inches from the fairly upright back of the car and not many more inches from the front of the SUV that rear-ends you. Not going to happen, I don't care how economical they may be.

Harry_Boy 16 July 2010

Re: Mini plans new city car concept

rwb wrote:
These cars first emerged at the 1997 Geneva Show in 1997, designed by Rover as the spiritual successor to the original Mini.
Absolutely rwb - my thoughts as I was reading this...