Even as Mini cleans house in an attempt to consolidate its product offerings, it looks like the 2014 Mini Superleggera roadster concept that was revealed last year in Italy made enough of a splash to justify the creation of a production version. The new model will reportedly see a launch in 2019 and will be a direct competitor with the venerable Mazda MX-5.

Mini’s boss, Peter Schwarzenbauer, recently told the U.K. publication Autocar that interest in the concept was so high, the idea of making a production version quickly accumulated widespread popularity throughout the company. Schwarzenbauer added that the new roadster was still “economically challenging” and that it was not 100 percent confirmed, but a lot of folks were pushing for its creation, including himself. “I think it would be extremely good for the brand,” he said.

The new car will be part of a future lineup of five individual Minis as a separate derivative of the Cabriolet model.

The new roadster would reportedly be built on the BMW-derived short-wheelbase UKL platform, which is also seen underpinning the current Mini hatchback. The platform would work particularly well for a car like the Supperleggera given its high rigidity and low weight. 

Rather than being a replacement for the older, recently axed 2014 Mini Roadster, the new Superleggera will be much more focused, with Schwarzenbauer calling it a “serious sports car.”

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Why it matters

While the details around this new lightweight Mini are far from official, there is a bit of speculation we can share that might pique your interest.

First off, the base drop-top will be FWD, while more powerful versions could be AWD. The car will likely see several drivetrain options, including a possible new gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid that would route 216 horsepower to all four wheels. Citing one unidentified Mini insider, Autocar says this future system is similar to the one used in the 2015 BMW i8, but rotated so that the ICE is up front and the electric motor is in the rear. The system mates a turbo 1.5-liter gas engine to a 7.7-kWh battery, and would first appear on the 2015 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer Plug-in, followed by the second-gen Countryman before being installed in the Superleggera.

Aesthetically speaking, the Superleggera would draw the majority of its cues from the original concept car, with an extended hood line, a strong shoulder line, a cabin space set toward the rear axle and a low overhang in the back.

 

Alternatives would encompass a range of gas and diesel three- and four-cylinder engines plucked from under the hoods of other pre-existing models. Displacement would span between 1.5- and 2.0-liters, with an entry-level tune of 134 horsepower. A high-performance, 227-horsepower John Cooper Works iteration is also on the table.

Aesthetically speaking, the Superleggera would draw the majority of its cues from the original concept car, with an extended hood line, a strong shoulder line, a cabin space set toward the rear axle and a low overhang in the back.

On paper, I think it’s a fantastic decision to put this thing into production. The brand recently expressed an interest in taking a more upmarket approach to its product lineup, concentrating on fewer models with a more premium perception (not to mention price). Therefore, it makes sense to create a high-end halo like the Mini Superleggera.

There are other things about this car that make sense to me, like how it touts itself as “super lightweight.” As you no doubt know, Minis used to be, well, small and light, but since BMW started building them, they’ve seemed to acquire more girth with each passing model year. This isn’t necessarily a return to roots, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

But if Mini is serious about taking on Mazda in this segment, it’ll have to bring the heat.

Having a legitimate sports car on its roster would do wonders for the brand, enabling it to capitalize on its stylish flair while underscoring the performance intentions it lost in the maelstrom of lifestyle solution models we’ve seen as of late.

But if Mini is serious about taking on Mazda in this segment, it’ll have to bring the heat. The MX-5 is, simply put, the best-selling two-seat convertible sports car ever made. Its handling is legendary, its value for money is unbeatable, and with the new generation, it even looks pretty good.

If the Superleggera does make it to market in the form we expect, it’ll probably end up being much more expensive than the Mazda, especially when equipped with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. It’ll also probably be heavier and handle more sloppily. But it’ll still undoubtedly bear that iconic Mini styling and come with the sort of panache that the back-to-basics Mazda won’t be able to match.

Speaking personally, I almost don’t even need to see the final product to know the MX-5 will be better with its rear-wheel drive, but at least Mini is giving us a sports car and not something dumb like yet another compact SUV. 

What do you think?

2016 Mini Superleggera

2016 Mini Superleggera Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
- image 554414

You can check our speculative review of the model here.

Source: AutoCar

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