Mini fans the world over will already know that last Wednesday was the 50th Anniversary of the original BMC-built model’s launch. MINI UK chose to mark the occasion by releasing details and images of the MINI Coupe Concept which will be revealed in the metal for the first time at the Frankfurt Motor Show from the 17th to 27th September, 2009.
The Coupe Concept incorporates several instantly recognisable MINI design features such as the large round headlights (with, in this case, black internal reflectors), a hexagonal radiator grille and low front spoiler and, like the current MINI Cooper S Hatch, measures 3,714mm in length and 1,683mm in width.
However, the significant changes are above the characteristically high waistline as the Coupe Concept has a weight-saving aluminum roof with a windscreen rake of 16 degress more than other MINIs and a height of 1,356mm – 51mm lower than the rest of the range. MINI UK claim that the new roofline lowers the car’s centre of gravity while the large roof spoiler and modified rear end optimise airflow and reduce turbulence behind the car.
The Coupe Concept’s interior has just two new sports seats with strongly contoured side supports and also features a three-spoke leather sports steering wheel with multi-function controls as well as two Chronoswiss clocks on either side of the centrally-mounted rev counter – one being a standard timepiece and the other a stopwatch.
Ironically, the absence of any rear seats means that the most sportscar-like MINI to date should also be the most practical – the boot has a capacity of 250 litres which can be accessed via either a large tailgate hinged above the roof spoiler or a lockable opening in the rear bulkhead between the passenger and luggage compartments.
The Coupe Concept uses the most powerful engine in the current MINI range – the 1.6 litre twin scroll turbocharged unit from the John Cooper Works version produces 208bhp and 192lb ft of torque (206lb ft in brief overboost mode) with CO2 emissions of 165g/km.
MINI’s Design Director, Gert Hildebrand, who says that the Coupe Concept’s roofline was inspired by the back-to-front baseball cap worn by his teenage son, has described the car as a ‘pocket Porsche’ and reckons that: ‘Everything you see is do-able for production – not cheap, but do-able.’
Autocar and Car Magazine are both predicting that production versions of the Coupe Concept will reach MINI Dealers in the UK in 2011 or 2012 but neither has indicated at what price. However, given Gert Hildebrand’s comments, AROnline expects the car to cost rather more than the John Cooper Works Hatch…
[Editor’s Note: MINI UK are, as reported last week, rumoured to be entering the World Rally Championship – a 4×4 version of the Coupe might be more fit for that purpose than the Countryman 4×4!]
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