Revealed 50 years to the day since the launch of the classic original Mini, this is the stunning Mini Coupé Concept, which CAR expects to enter production in 2011. Just check out the plausible body details of the Mini Coupé, which shares much of the design of the existing hatch, convertible and Clubman below the scuttle to keep costs down.
The two-seater Mini Coupé Concept, which will be displayed for the first time at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show, represents a dual effort by Mini to tap into the sports car market currently hogged by the Mazda MX-5. It's a clever way to further extend the Mini brand, which has proved highly successful since its rebirth in 2001.
Mini Coupé Concept: the lowdown
The Coupé show car is powered by the 1.6-litre twin scroll turbocharged engine from the Mini John Cooper Works, sending 208bhp and 192lb ft of torque (rising to 206lb ft in brief overboost mode) through the front axle. Like on the JCW, the front wheels are turned by speed sensitive power steering.
Highlighting the Coupé’s sporting pretensions are the bonnet scoop and twin central exhaust pipes that are familiar from current Mini S models, as well as a steeply raked windscreen, wing-shaped rear spoiler and rear diffuser. The front screen is angled 16deg faster than the Mini hatch.
Mini claims that the car will be notably lightweight, with an aluminium roof to lower the centre of gravity and enhance performance. It's like a junior BMW M3 CSL!
If you're in any doubt of Mini's ambition to launch the Coupé, check out the precise dimensions they've issued: it's a low-slung 1356mm high, but the same length (3714mm) and width (1683mm) as today's Mini Cooper S hatchback.
Will the Mini Coupé be efficient?
Should be. Mini says the concept will fall into line with BMW’s Efficient Dynamics programme; the production range will doubtless include other engine variants on top of the JCW, with Cooper, Cooper S and maybe even diesels and Ones likely in the longer run – heralding stop-start and intelligent alternator control to trim CO2 and mpg.
How does the Mini Coupé look on the inside?
The Mini Coupé Concept’s interior is not far removed from that of the existing models, but is lifted by fresh sports seats and a generous amount of leather cladding and black headlining throughout. Meanwhile, mounted on the dashboard either side of the centrally mounted rev counter are two 'Chronoswiss' clocks, one a standard timekeeper and the other a stopwatch for recording lap times.
What about practicality?
The lack of a rear bench yields a credible boot capacity of 250 litres, accessed via a huge tailgate hinged above the spoiler. Weirdly, the sportiest Mini yet is also likely to be the most practical.
Adding further practicality is a lockable opening in the bulkhead that separates the passenger and luggage compartments, allowing for access to the boot from within the car.
Not that we think people will buy this car for its sensible qualities. Jaws hit the floor when the pictures arrived at CAR HQ and we're genuinely excited by this new addition to the Mini range. It's a fitting 50th birthday present to the brand and a thrilling prospect to pep up the affordable £20k sports car market – largely defunct since the demise of the Toyota MR2 and Celica.