With the positive reaction still ringing from it’s introduction at Geneva, BMW has given MINI the greenlight to produce the Rocketman concept. But MINI design has quite a lot of work to do ahead of the 2015 debut date. Based on several sources and BMW insider Scott27’s recent insight, we’ve pieced together what to expect when the smallest MINI since the original debuts in four years time.
First off costs have scuttled the idea of a carbon fiber chassis or even components. That will likely be left for the next generation Rocketman theoretically due around 2022. But that doesn’t mean MINI isn’t serious about lightweight materials in the short term. The use of high strength and light weight steel along with aluminum and composite will play a major role in all BMW group cars and especially the MINI range. We expect the Rocketman to be no exception.
The design will be close to the concept but with several notable changes. First up MINI will add a b-pillar back into the car for increased structural rigidity. One concept feature that MINI design is working to retain is the split hatch and drawer. The notion is that it could help with space efficiency while harkening back to the original MINI’s drop-down trunk lid.
Perhaps most importantly for the rest of the MINI range, the Rocketman’s light halos will not only make it to production, but show-up across most of the range of MINI models. They will be LED and be used as day-time running lights.
Inside the car retain it’s general layout of 2 + 1 seating but will make use of more typical materials. The dash and speedo design will be similar but a little more grounded in a 2015 reality rather than 2030. Look for MINI to retain the center speedo and screen (yes we said screen) but make the dash less upright and more raked or angled. This change will be seen first in the 2013 F56 MINI hatch due late next year. Finally look for lighting to play a major role in customization of the new car.
Despite the Rocketman’s size, MINI will use it’s typical model range strategy. That means a MINI One, Cooper, and Cooper S model with diesel equivalents for certain markets. BMW’s new range of three cylinder will provide the majority of engine options but BMW is also investigating use of PSA’s forthcoming two cylinder. But perhaps more exciting, MINI is actively looking at making use of one or two of BMW’s award winning motorcycle engines.
Finally look for MINI to resurrect the MINI E with the Rocketman making use of BMWi technology.
But what about the name? We’ve surprisingly come to like the Rocketman name even with our initial reservations. And apparently BMW feels the same way as we’re now hearing it’s strongly being considering for production. Whether or not it’ll be cleared by the lawyers remains to be seen however.
If the name is cleared and the Rocketman launches successfully what’s next? MINI is asking that same question and is even thinking about the Rocketman as a potential sub-brand for MINI. That would mean an entire range of small cars that mirror the current MINI range. Convertibles and other more utility type vehicles could all be on the table.
Look for MINI to debut the production Rocketman in early 2014 and for it to go on sale late that year. While MINI USA initially said it would likely not be available here, we wouldn’t rule it out given 2025 EPA standards that are currently proposed.