Currently reading: Mini Superleggera to take on Mazda MX-5 in 2019
Mini will bring a production version of its Superleggera roadster concept to market in 2019, with a 227bhp JCW version also planned
3 mins read
15 July 2015

Mini is pursuing plans for a new flagship roadster after what company insiders describe as an overwhelming response to its Superleggera concept, first revealed at the 2014 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Italy.

The new two-seater is intended as a direct rival to the new Mazda MX-5. It is likely to form part of a future five-pillar Mini line-up, as an offshoot of the Cabriolet model, and has been conceived to use a range of powerplants. These include a new petrol-electric plug-in hybrid system that provides the basis for a 216bhp four-wheel-drive variant.

Speaking about plans to progress the Superleggera towards production, Mini boss Peter Schwarzenbauer said: “The interest was tremendous when we showed this concept car. We are now working hard to get it on the street. It’s an economically challenging project and there is no firm decision, but we have a lot of people here that are fighting for it. I think it would be extremely good for the brand.”

The basis for the new Mini roadster is the short-wheelbase UKL platform of parent company BMW. This platform is also used by the current Mini hatchback. The versatile structure is described as being highly suitable for an open-top car because of its rigidity and low weight.

Unlike the rear-wheel-drive MX-5, the Superleggera is planned to be offered natively with front-wheel drive. The option of four-wheel drive is likely to be available for more powerful versions.

Schwarzenbauer insists the Superleggera is not seen inside the company as a replacement for the existing Coupé and Roadster models. “They don’t compare. The Superleggera is a serious sports car,” he said.

Power is expected to come from a range of three-cylinder and four-cylinder petrol and diesel powerplants, all of which are used in other Minis. Ranging from 1.5 to 2.0 litres, they are likely to offer between 134bhp in an entry-level Cooper model and 227bhp in a John Cooper Works variant.

The plan to provide the new roadster with a hybrid option has led one Mini official to describe the new roadster as a junior BMW i8. The official said: “The system is quite similar, although it has been turned 180deg to site the combustion engine at the front and the electric motor at the rear. It also provides the scope for on-demand four-wheel drive and electric drive up to 50mph.”

This new hybrid system will appear first on BMW’s 2 Series Active Tourer. It uses a front-mounted turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine developing 134bhp and 162lb ft and a rear-mounted electric motor with 87bhp and 122lb ft. All up, it has a total system output of 216bhp and 209lb ft of torque.

In the 2 Series Active Tourer, drive is channelled from the combustion engine to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic gearbox. The electric motor transfers its power to the rear wheels via a twin-speed gearbox also mounted at the rear in a layout that provides a distinct rearward weight bias.

Energy for the electric motor is provided by a relatively small 7.7kWh lithium ion battery that is also sited at the rear.

The first Mini to feature the new hybrid system will be the second-generation Countryman, due in the second half of 2017. It is expected to be followed by the Superleggera roadster in 2019.


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Stylistically, the new Mini roadster is expected to lean heavily on the Superleggera concept car. Both longer and wider than the existing version, it has classic roadster proportions with a long-by-Mini-standards nose, a two-seat cabin set well back within the wheelbase and a minimal rear overhang.

Overall, the body is more heavily structured than that of existing Mini models. Prominent elements include a defined shoulder, distinct swage line and an abruptly curtailed rear end.

Plans to base the production version of the Superleggera around the UKL platform suggest it could be produced 
on the same production line 
as the hatchback at Mini’s Cowley plant in the UK.

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11 June 2015
This is the sort of car missing from Britain. A small sportscar. Make it for about £12000 and I will buy one. Why not call it a Riley ? BUT...I would prefer Gordon Murray to design and build a small sportscar along the lines of the original Lotus Elan. A good, lightweight, not too fast and maybe using a 1 litre engine. Please do it Gordon !

11 June 2015
Have to agree,Mini, or should i say BMW need a Car like this,BMW have been accused of churning out umpteen versions of the Mini in name only,this Car would give competition to the likes of the MX5,Audi TT to name two.

11 June 2015
I don't know how to parse that. I thought the whole point of an SUV/Crossover was stylistic? Are they talking about making a genuine off-roader to do double duty as their crossover. Given the development time (both product and brand) it would take for a brand with no off-roading history I'm not sure it'll be worth it. This trend for high riding vehicles to look like off-roaders isn't going to last forever.

11 June 2015
Rear Wheel drive and engine installed long ways please. It OK to use space inefficiently and put the heavy bits right place. inthe Scavenge bits of the BMW roadster thing. Otherwise the MX5 is the only choice. Oh yeah - Less than 1 tonne weight. Why make an obese sports car.


15 July 2015
topsecret456987 wrote:

Rear Wheel drive and engine installed long ways please. ...

. Well long-ways means long car which means additional cost (see the earlier post about someone wanting only to pay Fabia money ie £12K!!!). However, using the drivetrain at the back of the car (probably no need to bother with rear steering though!) would usefully free up the front. Or maybe just reverse that new hybrid BMW system so FWD is electric and RWD is petrol!

Realistically neither will happen - the money will go on the body not a variation of the drivetrain!

15 July 2015
topsecret456987 wrote:

Rear Wheel drive and engine installed long ways please. It OK to use space inefficiently and put the heavy bits right place. inthe Scavenge bits of the BMW roadster thing. Otherwise the MX5 is the only choice. Oh yeah - Less than 1 tonne weight. Why make an obese sports car.

It will certainly be FWD as the article says and sadly, just an exercise in marketing and style over substance. Don't get me wrong - some of the BMW Mini's are fun to drive, but I don't see this getting anywhere near an MX5 which is the most likely rival. I can't see it rivalling for example a TT; I don't like TT's at all but I just can't see BMW raising the perceived level of this to rival a TT, regardless of their marketing machine.

11 June 2015
Is this an old article? Surely speculation on whether the Paceman, Coupe and Roadster ended ages ago, and we were told they won't be replaced. And the Convertible is more than "likely", it can't be more than a few months off its release date.


11 June 2015
"...The interior is really reduced to the max..."

Hope this means that present ergonomic mess is going to be tidied up across the range.

11 June 2015
Dont BMW own the names Austin and Sprite?
I think if it were marketed as a frogeye sprite it might just be exciting but just a MINI superleggera (which it aint superlightweight) would be a mistake

11 June 2015
And they will come (customers).


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