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Coupé Update: Get Ready For the Ultimate MINI

So the R60 has launched. We’ve reviewed it and will have a (very special) long term review coming. But we want to give you a break in the coverage and talk about another car that is probably near and dear to many of you: the R58 MINI Coupé.

Progress

The Coupé and Roadster projects have been executed at lightening speed for the automotive industry. Work started in early 2009 and culminated in what we saw at the Frankfurt and LA motor shows. Since that time MINI has gone into engineering and design mode putting the finishing touches on both cars. First up will of course be the coupe. It’s currently undergoing initial prototype work around Germany. While in the past we’d expect to see test mules in places such as death valley and the arctic, BMW now has their new Environmental Test Center (ETC) to simulate conditions ranging from -30c to +45c. Due to this we don’t expect much in the way of sneak peaks of the car outside of a random shot near Munich and at the Nurburgring early this spring.

Models

The R58 will launch next September in Cooper S and JCW form. MINI is still debating internally whether or not to offer the car in lower spec models given the price-point. Oh the price? We expect it to fall generally between the Clubman and the Convertible.

Ultimately we have a hunch MINI will offer a special edition (GP like) model that will bring the best of the JCW Challenge to the street. What that will be we don’t know. And speaking of the MINI Challenge don’t be surprised if this car becomes the new defacto MINI Challenge car (if there’s still a European series) in the years ahead.

MINI Coupe Concept

Design

The last time we saw the Coupé (and it’s twin the Roadster) was at the LA auto show in 2009. Since then much of what made the R58 a star of that show remains. According to sources the low-slung look and unique roof all carry over relatively unchanged. There was some concern about head-room and we heard last year MINI may have to slightly altered the shape of the roof but that is as yet unconfirmed. Also unconfirmed are any changes to the backwards baseball cap look of the roof – the unique design that divided opinions of many here on MF. We believe MINI has kept the look generally the same. However for those who aren’t a fan but love the idea of a lighter two seat MINI, the roof will come in black.

Like R56 the R58 will be a hatchback and will have more cargo room than you’d think. However make no mistake, this is the least versatile car in MINI’s line-up until the R59 Roadster debuts months later.

Despite some sources saying otherwise, we still believe that MINI will create a unique front and rear facia to better differentiate the car from the standard MINI range. Also new will be an electronically deployed spoiler that rises from the car at speeds around 50 mph. The spoiler is meant to be functional and create much needed downforce on the rear wheels.

Colors

The coupe will be available in most (if not all) of the colors the R56 currently offers with one or two exclusive choices. What will they be? We have no idea.

Inside the car will feature several new colors (aligned with those exclusive exterior colors) on the seats and in trim. Again it’s all a guessing game as to what to expect. However we know we’d love to see that gorgeous houndstooth cloth leather combo from the Roadster or even the dark brown leather from the Coupé concept car. We’re guessing the latter has a better chance to make it (despite my personal plea to MINI Design).

Performance

Here’s where things get interesting. The Coupé is expected to be around 150 lbs lighter while being even more rigid than the R56 so by default the ultimate MINI track car from the factory. And remember the R56 is already lighter than the R53 so we’re talking about a car that should be even lighter than the GP with less power but more torque (in JCW form). Put head to head we’d expect the R58 to easily beat out the current “ultimate” MINI. And that’s without any tweaks to the JCW engine which have been rumored as of late.

MINI WRC Countryman

Exclusivity

The R58 Coupé will likely be the most hardcore MIIN produced yet. With limited versatility and only two seats we expect it to sell in the lowest numbers of any MINI variant. It will also be one of the last MINIs to have an all four cylinder engine line-up meaning it will likely be MINI’s most performance focused product in the years ahead. Add to that a short life-cycle and you have the makings of a special car that will likely be the “one to get” for enthusiasts in the years ahead. In short MINI made this car for the type of people who read MotoringFile.

Written By: Gabe

  • Wayne D.

    Please oh please don’t shave off any headroom or leg room.

  • BK

    I want this car badly. I hope there is enough space to wear a helmet inside :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=610504117 Dylan Bland

    1M or MINI Coupe. Anyone tossing up between the two? Different cars…yes…but equally special and unique? Thoughts?

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    1M or MINI Coupe.

    Yup that’s me. I have money down on one and am waiting info on the other.

  • Evan

    I’m usually not a convertible person, but the R59 looks so good. I don’t know what I’d buy in the end. If I had the extra money to stretch to a 1M, I’d do that Gabe.

    While I do plan on buying an R60 when the 3 passenger rear bench is available, I’m stuck on what to get as a performance adjunct- another 3er, the 1M or a next gen MINI Cooper S…. or maybe the R59? Let’s just say choices are good.

  • CraigE
    Please oh please don’t shave off any headroom or leg room.

    Usually lowering the roofline and having lots of headroom are mutually exclusive. I don’t expect the coupe and roadster to be any different.

  • Dr.Love

    I think i just drooled on my keyboard!!! :)…

  • Mark
    Usually lowering the roofline and having lots of headroom are mutually exclusive. I don’t expect the coupe and roadster to be any different.

    Except that now that you don’t have a back seat to contend with, you can go with a lower slung driving position a la the M Coupe.

  • Borinot

    Excellent opportunity to offer the JCW Valvetronic engine in all models. MINI, renew or die.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1286761775 Fredric Haberer

    Ingress/egress headroom is the key for me. If I don’t fit, I can’t buy; and there must be a bunch of old guys like me with the same issue. Please don’t shut us out! We oldsters may be your #1 market demographic, with cash in pocket, no kids to haul, and youthful fantasies to live!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001118351431 Robert Fairchild

    “Except that now that you don’t have a back seat to contend with, you can go with a lower slung driving position a la the M Coupe.”

    If you currently have the seat cranked all the way down and barely have enough headroom I don’t think you’ll be happy in a MINI whose roof is 2″ lower. Personally, I hope the roof is MUCH lower.

    It’s unlikely they’ll lower the bottom of the car much.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001118351431 Robert Fairchild

    I’d also like the beltline and bonnet to be much lower too but I’m not holding m breath.

  • Bor

    Gabe,

    Please elaborate on “tweaks to the JCW engine” :-)

  • that.guy
    1M or MINI Coupe.

    Really? Assuming similar price point (or price insensitivity), there is only 1(M) choice in this pair. Would you seriously consider spending real money on an FWD Shriner mobile?

  • B-

    I love these two cars but I fear that my 6’3″ frame will not be able to get in/out without hitting my head. I don’t mind tilting my head a bit like when I enter my R52 but I have driven my share of cars where I really have to work to not hit my head. I would not own a car that I did not fit in or one where I looked like a total spaz getting into or out of.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1070696962 Kevin Stephenson

    There is no doubt I will buy one if they are able to adjust the roof a little for us taller guys. My R56’s roof is perfect and I don’t mind leaning the seat a little but I am going to have to try this thing out in person and find out how I fit. If I do then….I can’t wait!!

  • MikeJCW

    I love the R58/59 series as I think they will be great. The roof of the Coupe is too fugly for me, but the R59 “Speedster” with top down/roofless and a SEXY beast. Give me one in full JCW trim!

  • MikeJCW

    I love the R58/59 series as I think they will be great. The roof of the Coupe is too fugly for me, but the R59 “Speedster” with the top down/roofless is a real SEXY beast. Give me one in full JCW trim!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=636940663 Benjamin Sidon
    The Coupé is expected to be around 150 lbs lighter while being even more rigid than the R56

    150 lbs lighter than the R56 or R57?

  • StephenS.

    I really love the look of the Coupe and being a short person it would be no problem, but justifying the purchase of such a toy, maybe not. I put waaay to much stuff inside my Mini on occasion and would miss that option. Maybe using a trailer might make the difference?

  • JonPD

    Nice Gabe!

    We already have a save spot on the R58 and if they do develop a GP 2 its very likely to join my GP in the garage.

    Great to see something other than R60 stories personally, BMW as a whole has been way to much SUV crazed lately.

  • CraigE
    I would not own a car that I did not fit in or one where I looked like a total spaz getting into or out of.

    If you think you would look like a spaz getting in and out of the R58 you should try the Lotus Elise or Exige. That car is absolutely brutal to driver and passenger dignity.

  • Blackballed

    As a Lotus Else SC owner I can concur with CraigE, however, I got better with practice. Regardless, this car will feel like a Caddy compared to my car in the “in/out department”.

    Sorry, I should have phrased that differently.

    I’m watching this very closely to see what Mini unveils. I’m hoping they knock one out of the park to bring me back to the brand.

    But those “tweaks” to the JCW better be of the kick a$$ variety.

  • Cory

    Blackballed,

    I think the coupe looks fantastic, but “trade in the Elise SC” fantastic? If it’s that good, I’ll buy three.

  • that.guy
    but “trade in the Elise SC” fantastic?

    I don’t believe such a level of fantastic exists. But, if it did, there would be no way that this chop job would qualify for membership. Of course, if the engine were placed behind the seats and drove the rear wheels… it might have a chance.

  • bill Frizzle

    They`re turning my favourite hot little car into direct competition to the Miata, a GIRLIE car, that is why it is slow low in the roofline, how many sixth feet three chicks do you know the convertible they have out right now is looked on as a girlie car by most guys, so whats the difference, its still the same old mini below the beltline only thing changed is the roofline….litlguy

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1256473616 Sherwin Smith

    If it’s under 40k “properly equipped”… [insert cliffhanger]

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    I’ll save you the cliffhanger… it will be well (well) under 40k properly equipped.

  • goat

    Oh my that is rich BillFrizzle… Lightweight, RWD, 50/50 weight distribution, compact, normally aspirated and torquey, with a 6speed gearbox that is the envy of most, double-wishbone at all 4 corners, aluminum trunk and hood, real LSD, massive aftermarket and factory support for SCCA racing, BONA FIDE SPORTS CAR, is what you are worried MINI is emulating with the Twins? We should be so lucky! :)

  • Mills

    I gotta imagine that the seats are a lot lower, closer to the floor, in order to facilitate that lower roof line. Should change the whole feel of the car. I’ll be interested to sit in one and check it when it finally arrives.


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MINI Model Cheat Sheet

1st Gen MINI
R50: One & MC Hatch
R52: All 1st Gen MINI Convt.
R53: MCS Hatch
2nd Gen MINI
R55: Clubman
R56: Hatch
R57: Convertible
R58: Coupe
R59: Roadster
R60: MINI Crossover
R61: MINI Crossover Coupe
3rd Gen MINI
F54: Clubman
F55: Five Door Hatch
F56: Hatch
F57: Convertible
F60: MINI Crossover
F58: Traveller

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