The MINI Wagon Concept – In Depth

From MINI Press:

MINI Concept Frankfurt: The Joy of Travelling.

Now in the Early 21st Century.
Unusual, agile, clever from the very beginning Mini was the ideal companion for the genuine trendsetter. And ever since the early ’60s, sporting outdoor activities, the opportunity to drive out to the country together with friends, and the joy of travelling became an increasingly important highlight of modern life. So with its extended wheelbase, the slightly rising roofline, and practical rear doors, the Mini Traveller was exactly the right companion combining the unique style of the chic Mini with extra space and practical value to ensure superior joy of travelling at all times.

Precisely 45 years after the launch of the Mini Traveller in September 1960, MINI is presenting the MINI Concept Frankfurt at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show, a design study re-interpreting the fundamental philosophy of the nimble little Traveller from Great Britain in the most emotional style of the early 21st century. And indeed, while many features of the car appear familiar, the truth is that everything is new: The unique overall look of the car is typical of MINI all the way, with its characteristic front end, side view and numerous design features already widely lauded as genuine icons.

Various innovations both inside and outside are also typical of MINI, for example the wide-opening doors with their intelligent parallelogram kinematics as well as the coupe-like look of the car without a B-pillar. A further highlight of the Mini Concept Frankfurt is the new Silver Metallic paintwork further enhanced by exquisite materials inside the car. And last but certainly not least, Mini Concept Frankfurt pays tribute to its forefather inter alia through its elegant Estate design featuring a symmetrically split double door at the rear as well as split side windows for the passengers sitting in the second row.

A major feature of MINI Concept Frankfurt is that all the functions presented serve a specific purpose, with all design highlights being refined to the last detail. Indeed, even the very name of the car has a special meaning, the roots of MINI lying in an urban lifestyle and with every issue of the MINI International Magazine being dedicated precisely for this reason to an exciting, fast-moving city in our modern world. At the same time Mini Concept Frankfurt is an homage to the host and venue of the Frankfurt Motor Show, where the prototype of the new MINI was presented to a small group of journalists for the first time back in 1997.

Travelling in Style: Small but Luxurious for Distances Short and Far. New Surfaces and Materials for MINI Concept Frankfurt.
Satellite Silver with multi-layer exterior paintwork intermingling in silver and grey, white leather with various surfaces and a unique touch, innovative glass-fibre texture on the interior door linings and panels, as well as a metallic carbon look within the footwells all this clearly bears testimony to travelling in style with MINI in the early 21st century. Indeed, “travelling in style” means an exceptional ambience and clever use of space presented authentically by MINI in the guise of MINI Concept Frankfurt.

Like the classic Mini Traveller, the MINI Concept on display at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show is designed and conceived to offer generous, luxurious and stylish motoring qualities for up to four travellers in their sports and leisure-time activities. This superiority is based on new concepts for the use of space ranging from the Cargobox in the luggage compartment all the way to the free-hanging driver and front passenger seats.

Unmistakable: MINI All the Way.
Just one look is sufficient: Just like the “regular” model, the Concept Version of the MINI is “as small as possible and as big as necessary”. And particularly this was the special challenge facing the MINI Design Team, with MINI Concept Frankfurt being a truly unique car all the way from its characteristic hexagon grille to the very functional split-door rear end.

MINI Concept Frankfurt naturally boasts numerous highlights which have made MINI design a genuine hallmark in the course of many years and decades: These include the straight shoulder and roof lines with the shoulder line rising up gently to the rear to give the car the exciting wedge shape of a genuine MINI further accentuated especially on this model by the extra length of the car.

The wheels positioned far to the outside, the very wide (more than 160 cm or 63.0″ long) driver and front passenger doors relative to the overall length of the car, and the characteristic joints around the side direction indicators all bear out the enhanced, upgraded design language so characteristic of MINI Concept Frankfurt.

The diagonal joint between the side direction indicator and the side door is a genuine icon which has developed consistently over the years, originating from the welding seam of the classic MINI. The glazed window line extending all round the car and the omission of a B-pillar creates the impression of a “free-standing” roof again characterising the Concept Car just like the door handles typical of MINI.

Firm, Sporting, Masculine.
Many features of MINI Concept Frankfurt are familiar but in actual fact everything is different: In its overall look and appearance, the car is firm, sleek and smooth, with features such as the wheel arches, the shoulder line and the powerdome standing out as particularly striking details. At very first sight, MINI Concept Frankfurt makes a clear statement the car has stance, looks muscular and elegant all in one. This impressive appearance is further accentuated by the headlights integrated directly in the engine compartment lid and by the hexagonal grille sculptured in one single piece to give the Concept Version a particularly alert, performance-oriented, likeable and charming appearance.

This sporting look is further enhanced by the engine compartment lid hinged at the front, the wheel arches and radiator grille forming one homogeneous component without any seams or dividing lines in between. And like on a classic sports car, the engine compartment lid swivels to the front and upwards when opening, with only the headlights remaining in their original position.

The discerning individual obviously wishes not only to travel in style, but also to enjoy the experience of motoring. So to ensure perfect harmony of looks and performance, MINI Concept Frankfurt comes with a MINI Cooper S power unit clearly characterised by the additional air intake scoop on the engine compartment lid and the dual tailpipes. Further ingredients ensuring that go-kart feeling so typical of MINI are the long wheelbase, the wide track, short overhangs at the front and rear, as well as the muscular engine already mentioned.

MINI Concept Frankfurt Opening up at the Left, Right, Rear and Top.
All Doors with Parallelogram Kinematics.

Extra space inside naturally calls for good access from outside. Ensuring easy access and loading was therefore one of the fundamental philosophies in developing MINI Concept Frankfurt. And through the driver and front passenger doors as well as the two rear doors, MINI is introducing a design configuration simply ideal for much easier and more convenient entry to and exit from the car, as well as better loading and unloading even under confined conditions: All four doors run on “intelligent” hinges and pivots in kinematic parallelogram arrangement, the doors swivelling in one single motion with minimum movement to the side and maximum movement to the front. This significantly reduces the space required all around the car when opening the doors while nevertheless offering the user generous access to the interior.

Coupe-Like Appearance for Convenient Access.

Long Side Doors, no B-Pillar, Split Side Windows at the Rear.
Through their parallelogram kinematics, the long coupe doors turn the occasional disadvantage of a smaller opening angle into a significant advantage ensured by the concept of the car especially because the side doors on this design concept are more than 160 centimetres or 63.0″ wide. And a further important point is that the side doors, like on every MINI, come with frameless windows. MINI’s new cosmopolitan athlete takes up the elements of a two-door coupe also in many other respects, at the same time offering particular practical value through easy access and loading. The omission of the B-pillar, for example, is a genuine eye-catcher emphasising the dynamic all-round appearance of MINI Concept Frankfurt.

A further highlight is the two split side windows at the rear merging directly when closed with the side windows at the front and with the front section moving electrically beneath the rear section when opened. This principle of split windows at the rear incidentally comes straight from the classic Mini Traveller and has been re-interpreted on the MINI Concept Frankfurt. Without the usual B-pillar and with its windows opened completely at the front and rear, MINI Concept Frankfurt ensures a particular impression of style and generosity otherwise to be found only on a coupe or convertible. Indeed, the omission of a B-pillar allows much easier and more comfortable access to the rear seats of the car.

Longer Wheelbase for Extra Space Inside. The Cargobox a “Butler” within the Luggage Compartment.
MINI Concept Frankfurt quite simply offers more space for spontaneous decisions for example when going on an excursion at the spur of the moment. The long wheelbase, for example, guarantees particularly ample space on the rear seats of the car. An important contribution to the excellent driving characteristics so typical of MINI, on the other hand, is the particular position of the wheels “right at each corner”. Deliberately maintaining this important feature so typical of the brand, MINI Concept Frankfurt like all other MINIs boasts an extra-short and compact body overhang at the rear. And last but certainly not least, the two wide-opening rear doors hinged at the side make loading and unloading very easy and convenient.

Behind these doors MINI Concept Frankfurt takes up items loaded into the car with the same convenience provided by the Cargobox, a very helpful “butler” for handling both small bags and big cases. Just one feature is that the floor can be pulled out to the rear, enabling the driver to simply put down his or her bags and smoothly return the floor panel into the car. A further feature is that the floor of the Cargobox may be swivelled up, serving as a partition between the passenger compartment and the luggage area. Fully retractable, frameless windows in both rear doors serve finally to provide extra fresh air and again allow convenient access to the luggage compartment without requiring the driver to even open the doors.

All Good News Comes from Above.
The sunroof extending throughout almost the entire roof area from front to rear is a particularly significant fun feature in the MINI Concept Frankfurt, offering the passengers a wonderful feeling of space and generosity with the sun and the lights of the big city brightening up the interior.

Again taking up the philosophy of using space intelligently, the Design Study offers convenient access to the interior also through the sunroof: With the rear section of the roof opening up in full, the occupants of the car enjoy not only fresh air, but also practical qualities, for example when loading a kiteboard with maximum ease from above. Indeed, this not only looks cool, but is also very practical and avoids obstruction in road traffic, with long objects extending out of the roof and not the rear end of the car.

Purist Looks with a Unique “Chameleon” Effect: Surface Trim in the MINI Concept Frankfurt.
MINI Concept Frankfurt takes a new approach not only in its technical and functional highlights, but also through the design of its trim surfaces specially created by the MINI Design Team: In all, the exclusive combination of white and silver surfaces emanates a touch of modern elegance without in any way appearing overdone or let alone obtrusive, since the emphasis remains on those specific qualities so typical of MINI.

This intentionally minimalist understatement and neutral style is enhanced, first, by the exceptional quality and innovative character of the materials used and, second, by the exterior colour changing with the perspective of the beholder and reflecting the surrounding area around the car. As a result, MINI Concept Frankfurt is almost like a chameleon, acting as both an element and the highlight of the colourful world typically surrounding every MINI.

Satellite Silver Paintwork Colour.
The paintwork of the MINI Concept Study offers an entirely new rendition of aesthetic looks, an exciting duality of non-metallic and metallic paint: Satellite Silver comes with a brilliant silver look in the light, while all points not directly illuminated from the perspective of the beholder come out in a refined and sophisticated greyish tone. MINI achieves this special effect by way of the Silver Metallic paintwork applied in two layers, the colours of each layer varying slightly from one another.

Black Neoprene Contour.
Normally surfers and sailors wear neoprene suits to protect themselves from cold temperatuares. MINI Concept Frankfurt, in turn, uses neoprene to maintain the special touch and feeling of its surfaces also on the exterior.

Through its special qualities and properties, neoprene offers several exciting effects all in one: The first point is that the sophisticated, silken-matt surface contrasts beautifully with the high-gloss Satellite Silver of the car’s body, with similar, distinctive contrasts between the hard surface of the doors and wheel arches, on the one hand, and the soft structure of the neoprene contour, on the other: The neoprene returns after being pressed in or touched to its original shape, at the same time offering a unique feel never experienced before in the world of motoring. So choosing this material clearly dedicated to active outdoor sports, the designers creating MINI Concept Frankfurt are again able to accentuate the car’s sporting appeal.

Aluminum Adding a Touch of Lightness and Sophisticated Style.
Glossy and matt aluminium accentuates the exterior look of MINI Concept Frankfurt, conveying a very special message in the process. This applies particularly to all sections and components of the body taking over design features from the classic Mini Traveller. As an example, the C-pillars in striking aluminium look at the rear bear testimony to the car’s great heritage. The radiator grille, the light surrounds at the front as well asa the exhaust tailpipes are also finished in aluminium, emanating a touch of high performance combined with sheer luxury.

MINI All the Day and for Every Purpose. “Floating Elements” Characterising the Car’s Interior Design.
Querying the conventional and offering unconventional answers proceeding from a high level of technology and emotion, MINI Concept Frankfurt reflects precisely these expectations. And this also applies to the interior design of the MINI Concept Car. Offering ergonomics at ist best, MINI Concept Frankfurt provides an entirely new experience of space with clever solutions for constantly new ideas to be experienced and enjoyed with MINI at all times and wherever you go.

The car’s concept of colours and materials consistently continues the exterior message within the interior, focusing on function, practical use of space and genuine value. Clearly, this makes MINI the small and fresh luxury experience for the whole day giving each and every day that special something.

Precisely this is why many features of MINI’s interior design are also to be found in the Concept Car, from the evolutionary enhancement of the large central instrument through paddle switches so typical of MINI all the way to the far larger door panels on the driver’s and front passenger’s doors in their characteristic, elliptic shape: The joy of detail remains clearly in focus, with new features borne out time and again.

“Hovering” Seats for the Driver and Front Passenger.
Free-Standing Suspension and Integrated Belt System.

Opening the driver’s and front passenger’s doors, the enthusiast enjoying MINI Concept Frankfurt will immediately experience a truly generous and open impression: The seats for both the driver and passenger appear to hover in space, being mounted directly on the front centre console by means of special load-bearing extensions. This not only offers additional footroom for the passengers at the rear, but also provides particular benefits in terms of open space along the floor of the car.

This impression is further enhanced by the slender construction of the seats basically reduced to two buckets similar to an open shell. To make access to the car as easy and convenient as possible also for the passengers at the rear, the front seats come with an unprecedented, truly unique Easy-Entry System, the seats moving forward with the help of an electric motor and at the same time rotating inwards. Turning away (but not folding down) the backrest on the driver’s and front passenger’s seats, this provides much more room and freedom in entering the rear. Then, once the passengers have taken their seats at the back, the front seats automatically return to their original position.

As a further feature the driver’s and front passenger’s seats come with a fully integrated seat belt system, consistently keeping the belts exactly where they are needed and avoiding any obstruction when entering the rear.

Room for Sitting Comfortably and Loading Conveniently also at the Rear.
The long wheelbase of the car gives two passengers at the rear adequate space in every respect, making MINI Concept Frankfurt a genuine four-seater. The rear-seat backrests fold down individually to form a flat surface flush with the floor of the luggage compartment. This facilitates the process of loading the car from all sides, either through the rear doors or the driver/front passenger doors, with the further advantage of being able to conveniently move around and place bags and objects in position.

The extra-large and flat loading area also provides ample space for large and bulky objects, the centre armrest between the two seats being fully integrated in the flat surface and offering additional storage space.

Opening up extra-wide, the two rear doors provide convenient access to almost the complete cross-section of the interior, with the loading sill kept particularly low, again in the interest of extra convenience. And even with the two rear-seat backrests in vertical arrangement, the passengers enjoy a loading capacity most acceptable for a car of this size.

The Cupholders: Everything in Easy Reach and at a Pleasant Temperature.
Two things which certainly would not mean “travelling in style” are luke-warm Coke and luke-warm tea which is precisely why MINI Concept Frankfurt offers the right solution also for ideal “on-board service”: The chrome surrounds on the side air vents fold down to form cupholders at exactly the right point in the car: First, this keeps drinks within very convenient reach at all times. Second, this keeps your Coke cool on a hot day with fresh air from the air conditioning flowing straight to the cupholders. And on cold winter days the warm air coming out of the nozzles serves not only to de-mist the side windows, but also to keep your tea at a pleasantly warm temperature.

Only the Best Inside. Leather, Chrome, Aluminium the Principal Materials.
Inside the car, white leather enhances the flair of modern style and the ample space available, creating a sophisticated ambience at the same time. Indeed, the colour white quite generally accentuates the clear lines of MINI Concept Frankfurt.

Top-quality leather is used on three diffferent surfaces: Grained cowhide accentuates the headrests as well as the inner lining on the side and rear doors. Through its clear surface structure, this special leather conveys a feeling of lasting, sporting quality and contrasts convincingly with the soft leather featured on the seat backrests and the steering wheel. And last but not least, the roof lining comes in extra-soft alcantara providing a feeling of smooth silk.

Particularly soft and “velvety” leather featured on the dashboard almost hovering in position and on the armrests on the side doors is highly attractive in terms of both its looks and surface touch, its white colour once again conveying a feeling of luxury and imagination. The soft and natural surfaces in pure white supplemented by cool-looking, metallic surface trim. One example is the aluminium-coated glass-fibre structure on the oval lining within the doors, carbon-fibre in the same look accentuating the footwells.

Numerous further features within the interior are made of solid aluminium. The circular instruments and air vents, in turn, are adorned by high-gloss chrome rings. On the seats, finally, the load-bearing arms come with a matt-brushed surface providing a particularly stylish touch.

The 1960 Mini Traveller. The Expression of a New, Mobile and Active Lifestyle.
The four-seater Mini Estate offering an enlarged luggage compartment made its debut in September 1960 as the Austin Seven Countryman and the Morris Mini Traveller. The term “Traveller” used in conjunction with the Mini clearly indicates that this model was targeted at a group of customers enjoying an active lifestyle quite new and unprecented at the time.

Apart from the typical elements and highlights of Mini design as well as the two doors at the rear, these special versions of the Mini remain in our memory to this day through their wooden sideboards extending all the way back at the outside from the B-pillar. Starting in 1961, the Morris Mini Traveller was also available without this woodwork in foreign markets outside of Great Britain, with this “no-wood” option being introduced in the Mini Traveller’s home market in 1962. In 1969 the Mini Clubman Estate replaced the Traveller and Countryman, total production of the Mini Estate under all model designations amounting to more than 400,000 units between 1960 and 1982.

In technical terms the Mini Estate was based on the two-seater Mini Van launched in January 1960. Compared with the Mini Saloon, that is the original Mini, exterior length was up from 3,050 to 3,300 mm (120.1″ to 129.9″), with the car’s wheelbase extended by 110 mm or 4.33″ to 2140 mm or 84.3″, while the roofline was 10 mm or almost 0.4″ higher.

With its reinforced suspension and higher loading capacity, the Mini Traveller met all the demands made of an elegant transporter at the time, with go-kart-like driving characteristics ensuring the highest conceivable standard of agility in the market. Starting in 1961, finally, a Mini Pick-Up was also offered on the same technical basis.

To view a full gallery of the MINI Frankfurt Concept, follow the link below:

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