Mini Future Cars

Mini Superleggera Roadster Will Compete With The MX-5

Mini Superleggera Roadster Will Compete With The MX-5

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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Mini Superleggera Could Still Make it to Production

Mini Superleggera Could Still Make it to Production

Though it has been a slow process, Mini is still considering developing a production version of the Superleggera Roadster, according to a new report.

The roadster, which the 2014 Mini Superleggera Vision previewed, has been a bit on and off as of late, but this report indicates that the automaker is still trying to build a business case for the niche roadster. According to Peter Schwarzenbauer, head of the Mini, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorcycle brands, “...the interest was tremendous when we showed this concept car. I think also the technological part is extremely interesting because we are working on electrification for Mini.”

Though there is still plenty of interest, Schwarzenbauer made it clear that a decision on its production future is still up in the air because it is “an economically challenging project.” This comes as no surprise, as the Superleggera is nothing like its potential siblings, despite sharing a basic design language. Whereas other Mini models are gasoline powered and have a squashed-hatchback look, the Superleggera is slated to have an electric powertrain and proportions that no Mini before it has had.

So for now we just wait and see if Mini and BMW can come up with a good reason to build this tiny sports car. If it did make its way to the production line, initial estimates put it at around €35,000 ($39,375 as of 2015). At this price point, it could give higher-end Miata shoppers something to think about, particularly those who prefer alternative fuels.

With more than a year in the books since the concept debuted, look for Mini to make a decision soon or risk losing momentum.

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Mini Cooper S Convertible Driving Open Top: Spy Shots

Mini Cooper S Convertible Driving Open Top: Spy Shots

Even before the third-generation Mini Cooper Hardtop was unveiled in late 2013, spy photographers had already captured pictures of the drop-top variant wearing light camouflage. Now, with the 2016 Mini Cooper Convertible getting closer to its unspecified on-sale date, our photographers have once again caught up with the cute convertible only this time Mini’s engineers are testing the car with the soft top fully retracted.

It’s no surprise that the styling of the new Cooper Convertible won’t differ too much from the two-door Cooper it is based on, but there is one key area where the 2016 Cooper Convertible will vary from the current convertible. From what there is to see in these images, the more rounded tailgate and added rear overhang should help improve the Convertible’s cargo capacity. One of the images even shows the current convertible right alongside the 2016 model, giving a better comparison of the two cars’ rumps.

Speaking of the rear end, this car is definitely the Cooper S Convertible as evident from the center-mounted exhaust outlets. This means that the 189-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder will add even more fun to the top-down driving experience.

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Mini Superleggera Vision Should Arrive in 2018

Mini Superleggera Vision Should Arrive in 2018

Mini is planning to release a lightweight roadster based on the Supperleggera Vision concept first unveiled last year at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este last year. UK-based publication CAR recently broke the news, garnered from unidentified sources, stating the new two-door drop-top has received the go-ahead for production sometime in early 2018. 

This coincides with a much-needed refresh which sees Mini reducing its lineup to five core models, eschewing the previous broad niche focus going into a third generation. The new-gen stable is expected to include a three-door hatchback, five-door hatchback, the Countryman, the Clubman, and now, a superleggera two-seater.

The Paceman, Coupe and Roadster are all expected to get the axe. 

While the concept vehicle originally came equipped with a hybrid AWD driveline featuring an electric motor driving the front wheels and a gas-powered engine driving the rear wheels, CAR says the production version will most likely be fitted with an assortment of three- and four-cylinder powerplants, including a top-range, 189-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo stuffed into a Superleggera Cooper S. 

Mini has been dragging its feet when it comes to updating its lineup, and if CAR’s inside sources turn out to be correct, a superleggera Mini will be most welcome indeed. “Despite certain type approval-related modifications, the production version is said to retain the character and charisma of the 2014 concept car,” CAR says.

Continue reading to learn more about the Mini Superleggera Vision.

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Mini JCW Convertible Shows Some Skin: Spy Shots

Mini JCW Convertible Shows Some Skin: Spy Shots

When Mini introduced the new John Cooper Works Hardtop model at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show we had no idea the BMW-owned brand was also working on a convertible model. That became apparent about a month later when a camouflaged Mini Convertible wearing a front bumper identical to the JCW Hardtop was spotted by our trusty paparazzi. And while Mini still hasn’t confirmed there’s a JCW drop-top underway, a second test car sporting the aggressive fascia we’ve seen on the hatchback back in January hit the streets for more real-world action. This time around, the prototype is painted red and, more importantly, most of the camouflage is gone.

With no black-and-yellow tape covering the front bumper, I’m now 100-percent positive this is indeed the soft-top version of the nippy JCW Hardtop. Yes, there are important details missing, such as the racing stripes on the engine hood, the JCW badge on the grille and the unique, two-tone wheels, but these features will likely appear as the vehicle moves closer to production.

As a brief reminder, all these JCW-specific goodies will come alongside a new 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine rated at 228 turbocharged horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. That’s a 20-horse and 29-pound-feet increase over the previous model, making the new JCW the most powerful production Mini ever, as of 2015. Expect those numbers to translate into six-second 0-to-60 sprints and top speeds in excess of 150 mph.

Continue reading to learn more about the Mini JCW Convertible.

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2016 Mini Countryman Plug-In Hybrid

2016 Mini Countryman Plug-In Hybrid

It seems the 2016 Clubman and 2016 Countryman aren’t the only brand-new vehicles Mini is working on. Word from our spy photographers has it the British marque is also testing its first plug-in hybrid automobile. Naturally, Mini hasn’t designed a brand-new vehicle altogether, but it will implement the technology across its entire lineup over the next few years. In the meantime, the Countryman will be the only mini to feature hybrid technology and the photos we just received from out paparazzi provide us with our first look at the thriftier Mini.

Much like most test vehicles spotted, the hybrid Countryman comes wrapped in heavy camouflage, so there’s really nothing new to see as far as exterior styling goes. In fact, we have only the "Hybrid Test Vehicle" sticker on the rear bumper as a hint that this Countryman also employs an electric motor under its skin. Actual details are still unknown as Mini has yet to confirm it will offer a hybrid, but the news of a plug-in Countryman is far from shocking with a plug-in version of the 2015 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer underway. Since the two vehicles make use of the same UKL platform, it was only a matter of time before Mini began exploring hybridization.

That time has apparently come, and judging by the way things usually roll at Mini, the Countryman Plug-In Hybrid is set to arrive right after the next-generation crossover debuts sometime in 2016.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 Mini Countryman Plug-In Hybrid.

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Spy Shots: Mini Clubman Caught Wearing Production Taillights

Spy Shots: Mini Clubman Caught Wearing Production Taillights

Despite the first generation having started more like a niche model in the MINI lineup, the Clubman has managed to achieve a decent number of sales, prompting the German-British carmaker to work on a new model. The 2016 MINI Cooper Clubman, which is based on the UKL1 architecture that will soon be shared with BMW’s entire compact lineup, is nearing the end of its testing phase, and our spy shooters caught a nearly undisguised prototype showing part of its production taillights for the very first time.

Despite the front and sides looking pretty much like a longer MINI Hardtop 4-Door, it seems that the 2016 Clubman will keep some of the quirkiness of the first generation when it comes to the rear. As you can see, not only have the bread-van-like doors been kept, but the taillights seem to look completely different when compared to the two- and four-door Coopers. Unlike the first generation though, the single door on the driver side and suicide door on the passenger side have been replaced by normal doors.

Speaking of compacts, rumors suggest that the MINI Clubman has increased quite a bit in just about every direction, making its overall size look right at home next to other compact cars like Volkswagen Golf,. Unlike the Golf, the new Clubman will have larger luggage compartment and offer a much more efficient opening thanks to the two "bread van" doors. Expect Mini to reveal the 2016 Clubman at either the 2015 Geneva Motor show in March or in Frankfurt in September.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 Mini Clubman.

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2015 Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop

2015 Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop

John Cooper’s cooperation with Mini began back in the days when the British automaker produced the original Mark I car. Developed as an homologation car for rally racing, the original Cooper and Cooper S models were built until 1967. The modern-day John Cooper Works was founded in 2000 by Michael Cooper, son of John Cooper. The first Mini JCW was released in 2008. The company is now a wholly owned subsidiary of BMW and is the in-house tuning arm for all Mini vehicles, much like the M division is to Bimmer. Seven years since the inception of the first modern-day Mini JCW, John Cooper Works has released a brand-new iteration of the beefed-up hatch.

Based on the recently redesigned Cooper Hardtop, the new JCW is the most powerful Mini ever developed as of 2015 with 228 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque at its disposal. The 2015 John Cooper Works Mini is set to bow at the 2015 Detroit Motor Show and go on sale in the United States a few months after its debut.

Updated 1/12/2015: Mini has officially revealed the Cooper Hardtop John Cooper Works at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Not that we didn’t already know nearly everything about it already. The only new information available is its starting price of $30,600 plus $850 delivery fee, its release date of spring 2015, and that Mini will be running the Cooper Hardtop JCW in the Street Tuner (ST) class of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge in 2015.

Updated 01/23/2015: We’ve added a series of new images from the car’s official debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Check the new images in the "Pictures" tab.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Mini John Cooper Works.

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Spy Shots: Mini Clubman Spied Inside and Out

Spy Shots: Mini Clubman Spied Inside and Out

The current Mini lineup is slowly getting a makeover and the Clubman is the next to join the ranks of Britain’s redesigned "fashionmobile." Previewed by the Clubman Concept at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, Mini’s new wagon brought many changes to the nameplate, a fact confirmed by the first prototypes that took the streets in the second half of 2014. With 2015 already upon us, the new Clubman was spotted trotting around German streets once again, showcasing its six-door configuration and revised sheet metal.

As soon as we set eyes on the production-ready concept of the 2015 Mini Clubman, we learned that the new Clubman would be the most revolutionary of its kind. Although its exterior design is essentially the same, save for a few nips and tucks all around, the wagon has received regular rear doors for the very first time, ditching the single, reverse-hinged opening on the passenger side and the unequal front-door setup. What’s more, it has grown in size, following the trend applied to the rest of the new Mini lineup.

The interior of the Clubman has been revamped as well, strangely enough to the extent it’s quite different when compared to the Cooper Hatch, but you’ll have to skip past the jump to find out more about that.

Click past the jump to read more about the Mini Clubman.

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Patent Images of a Production-Ready Mini Superleggera Roadster Hits the Internet

Patent Images of a Production-Ready Mini Superleggera Roadster Hits the Internet

Mini’s decision to scrap the Coupe and Roadster models was initially believed to be part of a plan to clean up the clutter of its model lineup. Well, now it looks like the German automaker had other reasons in taking those steps. Maybe it was being a little sneaky and doing a little addition by subtraction, eliminating the Coupe and Roadster to give way to the production version of the Superleggera Concept.

The emergence of patent renderings of a car that is nearly identical to the Superleggera adds some weight to rumors that Mini’s giving the green light to build a halo model for the brand. Granted, Mini has yet to confirm any plans to build a production version of the Superleggera, but these renderings are good indications that the German automaker may be going down that road.

The styling of the production model is largely similar to the concept, albeit with a few modifications like the elimination of the rally-style lamps integrated into the concept’s grille. The images also show a secured windshield and nothing like the flimsy interpretation on the concept. The mirror arms are also shorter and thicker, something most production Minis have in their design profiles. On the flip-side, the renderings also show some design elements that were clearly taken from the concept including the extractor vents on the hood, the fin in the center of the trunk lid, and the taillight design that’s actually a clever homage to the Union Jack.

A production model of the Superleggera is also likely to carry a standard engine in place of the electric powertrain fitted into the concept version. It’s unclear what kind of powertrain Mini plans on using on a potential production version of the Superleggera but my best guess includes the same three- and four-cylinder engines that are currently used by Mini models. We’re also not shutting down the possibility of a range-topping John Cooper Works version for the car that will carry the same 2.0-liter engine as the new JCW model.

Click past the jump to read more about the Mini Superleggera Vision Concept.

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Mini Plans To Shrink Lineup To Five Models

Mini Plans To Shrink Lineup To Five Models

Mini’s reported lineup restructuring apparently has more traction than a 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier. Shortly after Mini USA product boss Patrick McKenna said that the Coupe and Roadster models would be discontinued, company chairman Peter Schwarzenbauer added fuel to speculation about Mini’s future lineup by telling Bloomberg that mother hen BMW has deemed it unsustainable, thus the need to shrink its lineup to around five models.

The two reports paint a clear picture on BMW’s plan for Mini, which now involves ridding the company of unnecessary and overlapping models in favor of keeping a core lineup made up of “superhero” vehicles. According to Schwarzenbauer, these superhero models would have their own personalities and unique capabilities to create clear distinctions from the other Mini models. The Mini chairman didn’t explicitly say which models would be scrapped, but McKenna’s recent comments to AutoGuide have tabbed the Coupe and Roadster models as the two casualties of the brand’s planned model contraction.

That would leave the three- and five-door versions of the Cooper, the Countryman, the Clubman, and the Paceman as the faces of Mini’s revamped model lineup. The German automaker is also considering the possibility of offering an electric vehicle, which could be based on the Superleggera Concept that was unveiled at the 2014 Paris Motor Show.

That would make it five different models, each with their own derivatives. If BMW is really serious about cutting Mini’s existing lineup, these five models could make for a good core lineup. There are enough differences among them that there won’t by a risk of overlapping like the way it is now with the Coupe and Roadster.

Click past the jump to read more about Mini’s future lineup.

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Spy Shots: 2015 Mini John Cooper Works Caught Testing in Munich

Spy Shots: 2015 Mini John Cooper Works Caught Testing in Munich

The 2015 Mini John Cooper Works is expected to make its debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Seeing as there’s still some time left before the JCW heads to the Motor City, our spy photographers captured the car almost completely undisguised, except for the swirly-camouflage beard, undergoing testing in Munich.

Unlike the spy shots from May 2014 that had the JCW doing test runs using a Cooper S body, this model appears to be as close to the final production model. That’s hardly surprising since Mini has pretty much spent the entirety of 2014 developing the new John Cooper Works in time for its debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2015.

The 2015 John Cooper Works is expected to receive a four-cylinder turbo engine that produces close to 231 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. Should that be the final number, that’s going to represent a modest bump from the 218 ponies powering the outgoing model. It should also be enough to clear 60 mph in about six seconds.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Mini John Cooper Works.

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