Coupé Update: Get Ready For the Ultimate MINI

It’s hard to believe but we’re just months away from the R58 launch. The car that so many of us MINI enthusiasts have been waiting for will be hitting dealers this September worldwide and you can expect nothing less than the best coverage anywhere in the world right here on MF. Specifically you’re going to see lots of the pre-launch and launch covered from every angle. But before that, let’s take a step back and talk about how we got here and what exactly is coming.

Model availability, pricing, performance, we’re going to give you a early look at all of it.

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 final production testing around the world (including California as is clear in the photo above). 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 the random shots we’ve seen outside the factory.

Speaking of the factory, the first production prototypes have already started rolling off the line. In fact MINI USA has already ordered the initial September launch cars for US dealers. It’ll be a mix of Cooper S and Cooper models with both auto and manual transmissions.

Models & Pricing

The R58 will launch next September in Cooper and Cooper S with the JCW version coming a few months later. 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. That would make the Cooper Coupe (sounds odd right?) approximately $23k and the Cooper S version around $27k. Of course those are purely estimates given our sources and what we know of MINI pricing in the US.

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 officially saw the Coupé (and it’s twin the Roadster) was at the LA auto show in 2009. According to various sources and spy photos the low-slung look and unique roof all carry over relatively unchanged. The one addition (along with a subtly altered roof-line) will be an electronically operated rear spoiler that deploys above a set speed. 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 at this time but expect more news very soon.

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.

Top image courtesy of Worldcarfans.com