Mini Prepares Competitor For Smart ForTwo
Remember the Rocketman concept Mini unveiled back in 2011? It was a dolled-up three-door hatch that was about a foot shorter than the regular Mini Cooper, and had a panoramic glass roof and a carbon-fiber spaceframe. Its main highlight, besides the fancier looks, was its 78 mpg U.S. estimated fuel economy rating. Initially expected to spawn a production car, the Rocketman remained a concept only. That’s about to change according to Auto Express, which found out more about the company’s new plans straight from Mini head of design Anders Warming.
Details are being kept under wraps for now, as the Brits are still developing the idea, but Warming says the Rocketman could become the base of a Smart ForTwo competitor. “For sure, a Mini should always be a small car, so a new city car would be appropriate for the brand. At the moment, we don’t have the right tech solutions, but we are working on it. We don’t yet have a final solution, you could say," he noted.
But don’t expect to see too much Rocketman in this small, lightweight vehicle. Warming stresses Mini doesn’t plan on using carbon-fiber like BMW did with the i3. Instead, the tiny city car is more likely to make extensive use of aluminum. "Our concept had carbon parts, but aluminum is more likely. We want to reduce parts, to do more with less."
As for know-how, Mini is reportedly looking to team up with Toyota, who is currently working with BMW on a brand-new sports car. Needless to say, Toyota’s experience with the iQ could help Mini enter a previously unexplored segment.
Click past the jump to read more about the Mini Rocketman Concept.
Why it matters
Mini has received a lot of heat for its increasingly larger Coopers lately. The company that used to build one of the smallest vehicles ever in the 1960s has already ventured into crossover territory. Not that "Mini," huh? Well, the Brits could finally return to their roots with a fuel-efficient city car, which would be big news for both the manufacturer and its future customers. There’s a catch though. Mini is a tad too premium for such a segment and it remains to be seen whether the Brits will move toward a more affordable market or not.
The Mini Rocketman was quite the attention-grabber when it rolled onto the auto-show scene back in 2011. Its aesthetics were still familiar to Cooper enthusiasts, but spiced up by the carbon-fiber body inserts, panoramic roof, and its 3+1 seating configuration. It was also quite luxurious for a city car, with suede covering its dashboard and center console. Mini claimed the Rocketman could return outstanding fuel economy, but those claims have yet to be proven. Maybe it’s time Mini stands behind the Rocketman and gives the Smart ForTwo a run for its money.