Meet Mini's mini Rocketman 23 | 02 | 2011

    MINI IS ABOUT to return to its roots by getting smaller. This new, strangely-named Mini Rocketman concept, which will appear at next week's Geneva Motor Show, points the way to the future for the brand ... and it's just 10cm longer than the 1959 original Mini.

    While the company is at pains to stress the Rocketman is not ‘pre-communicating’ a specific upcoming model — as was the case with the Clubman, Countryman and Paceman concepts — the concept gives a clear hint about how BMW will try re-invent the marque and enhance its premium status in a market where Mini is facing increasingly capable competition.

    But there are clear signs that within parent company BMW, the mini Mini — complete with its Toyota IQ-style 3+1 seating layout — is poised to being given the green light. We at Scotcars are in no doubt the approach will be part of the all-new, 2013, Mini line-up.

    The concept, which thankfully was actually developed under the far more sensible Mini Pure banner, not only gives strong clues as to the shape of the new-generation Mini family, including the new brand’s new interior and exterior design language, but mixes a combination of cutting edge technology and ideas.

    Built around a bespoke carbonfibre monocoque chassis, which is exposed between the front wheels and front doors, the Rocketman also boasts a carbonfibre spaceframe which is used to for the car’s roof; this, in turn, is capped by a clear panel etched with the outline of a Union Jack.

    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; but as soon as the front passenger seat is slid forward, the rear seat behind can be used to its full capacity. And just for good measure, here’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.

    Fortunately, the occupants in the front enjoy far more space. By fitting a wide cabin and deep dashboard design, Mini design team has been allowed to install a completely new dash architecture delivering a much lighter, airier feeling.

    The designers have also introduced an ingenious storage bin behind the rear seats and which is accessed via a giant drawer, which slides out from the concept’s tail. Clever stuff.

    There are also a number of design cues on Rocketman which point towards the new Mini due in 2013. Expect to see the more pronounced front wings and bonnet, the new front graphic, which wraps up the grille and driving lamps into a single unit , and the LED-rimmed headlights on the 2013 Mini.

    Meanwhile, the chic curves and shape of the Rocketman will more than likely manifest itself in a new city car version of the next-generation Mini.

    As for a powerplant in the Rocketman, it's certainly not rocket-propelled. All Mini bosses will say is it can accommodate a ‘drive system’ which will deliver 94mpg.

    CLICK HERE to see the video of the new Mini Rocketman

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    Jim McGill

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