MINI may have delved deep into Sir Elton John’s back catalogue for the name of their latest concept car which will land a next week’s Geneva Motor Show but the Rocketman Concept may just be a pointer to the new mini MINI which many Automotive Industry insiders expect to be part of the all-new, third-generation MINI family.
The Rocketman Concept’s dimensions are L: 3419mm, W: 1907mm and H: 1398mm or about 304mm shorter than the current MINI Hatch but around 365mm longer than Sir Alec Issigonis’ original 1959 Mini. However, whilst those dimensions might be a step closer to the classic Mini’s, the Rocketman Concept adopts a Toyota iQ-like 3+1 seating arrangement.
MINI, though, claims that the Rocketman Concept can accommodate four adults and there are three seating layouts. The front two seats move as far back as necessary and the instrument cluster also moves if only the driver and one passenger are in the car while, if a third passenger sits in the rear, the front passenger seat slides forward to provide more legroom in the back. A basic seat made of moulded carbonfibre and located behind the driver allows a fourth passenger to squeeze into the car for short journeys – but, in practice, that will obviously depend upon the driver’s height!
The MINI Rocketman Concept’s doors are double-hinged and so provide a wide opening while the sills form part of the doors which also aids access to the interior. The car’s boot consists of two parts: the upper section being a conventionial roof-hinged hatch and the lower being a drawer. The latter slides out up to 350mm from the body and, in an echo of the original Mini’s drop-down bootlid, the car can be driven with the drawer open – that allows skis, snowboards and other bulky sports equipment to be carried in special holders. However, whether the trick doors and the drawer survive into production remains to be seen…
This latest in a growing line of MINI Concepts has been built around a carbonfibre monocoque chassis similar to that used for parent company BMW’s i3 EV citycar which will also be on show in Geneva – that reduces weight but, unlike on the BMW i3 EV, MINI has left the carbonfibre exposed around the grille and front apron. A carbonfibre spaceframe has been used for the car’s roof which features an otherwise clear panel bearing a Union Jack.
The exterior design language of the Rocketman Concept hints at what can be expected from the next-generation MINI range – take particular note, then, of the more pronounced shaping of the front wings and bonnet, the LED-rimmed headlights and the new front graphic which combines the grille and driving lamps in a single unit.
MINI say that the Rocketman Concept will have a powertrain package capable of returning 94mpg but have otherwise been pretty tight-lipped on the subject of engines and transmissions. However, AROnline reckons that any production model will probably use the BMW Group’s forthcoming range of three-cylinder petrol and diesel engines.
The first model in the new, third-generation MINI range will be the MY13 Hatch but the 3 door and 5 door versions of that model along with the new Clubman, Convertible and Countryman are all thought likely to hit MINI showrooms before any production version of the Rocketman Concept – that will probably appear in around five year’s time as a MY16 model.
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