World Debut: Updated MINI Rocketman Concept

MINI has dusted off and updated the most exciting concept from the past five years. The MINI Rocketman was meant to show off how far MINImalism could go and how the original MINI could be reinterpreted without an increase in size. The updates aren’t dramatic but they do offer some new interior ideas while wrapping the entire package in a better looking color scheme. All well and good but we’re more excited to see the Rocketman back in the public eye because we believe it will visually prepare us all for release of the 3rd generation in late 2013. As we’ve reported in the past, we believe the Rocketman is a very good look at the F56 and the entire 3rd generation of MINIs. The size may be different (the F56 will be the same size as the R56 and R53) but the general design language we see here will be shared with the new MINI expected to roll-out late next year.

Official Release: This summer the best athletes from some 200 countries will gather in London, England for the London 2012 Games – the biggest sporting spectacle on the planet. A total of 302 medals for the Olympic Games and 503 for the Paralympic Games will be up for grabs between July and early September, but the Games are about more than outstanding sporting achievement alone. The event plays a particularly important role as a platform for cultures to interact. And for London itself, there is the opportunity to once again put its best foot forward as host city. British premium car brand MINI will roll out the red carpet for the Olympians and Paralympians with the new edition of a spectacular small car study first presented at the International Geneva Motor Show 2011. The new design of the MINI Rocketman Concept combines innovative ideas for personal mobility in major cities with classical, unmistakably British design features inside and out. This extraordinary car will be on show in the BMW Group Pavilion, which is located close to the Olympic and Paralympic Village and will act as a showcase for the company during the Games.

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The MINI Rocketman Concept caused quite a stir at the Geneva Motor Show 2011 as a ground-breaking new concept car majoring in driving fun in tight spaces. The 3+1-seater, with its three doors and an exterior length of just over three metres, is imbued with the timeless core values of the brand: irresistible design, clever functionality, smile-inducing agility and exceptional efficiency. In the process, it also offers a very contemporary take on the “creative use of space” principle that has held sway at the British carmaker for more than 50 years. The concept car approaches classic Mini territory in terms of dimensions, while advanced technology underpins a lifestyle-focused mobility solution equipped for life in large cities such as London over the years ahead. The MINI Rocketman Concept’s spaceframe is made from carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic, enabling a lightweight construction. Its innovative interior concept accommodates three full-size seats and an extra seat suitable for short journeys.

A commitment to British style and the roots of the brand.

The new edition of the concept car sees MINI reaffirming its commitment to the brand’s British roots. The classic Mini reached out from its homeland to leave an indelible mark on roads around the world, and MINI Plant Oxford now produces no fewer than five models for the brand’s global markets. The new MINI Rocketman Concept wears its British heritage on its sleeve, most prominently in its exterior and interior colour schemes and more subtly through the use of extremely high-quality materials and stylish details. All in all, it embodies a typically British form of sporting elegance. The colours of the British national flag, the Union Jack, come to the fore on both the outside and inside of the car, red and white accents accompanying the dominant dark blue. The body’s non-metallic paintwork is interspersed with exposed carbon components at the front end and around the doors. And the 18-inch light-alloy wheels have white polished areas and a metallic red accent. Matt Porcelain White paintwork is also used for the mirror caps, boot opener and surrounds for the radiator grille and headlights.

The grille structure – made up of MINI logos – could certainly be described as an “eye magnet”, thanks also to its red metallic paint finish and contrasting white surround. A red strip emphasises the path of the hallmark MINI diagonal link between the wheel arch and door at the foot of the A-pillar. This takes a particularly chunky form on the concept car and also makes a feature of the door hinges. The two-section split boot opening consists of one upward-pivoting element and a second segment which extends out of the body in the form of a drawer – and which is also painted blue on the inside in the new MINI Rocketman Concept. The rear lights have a trapezoidal stirrup design and work using projector technology. Another special feature is the distinctive lighting design for the roof. The concept car has a full-surface glass roof, whose illuminated braces recreate the look of Britain’s Union Jack flag. Even when the roof is not illuminated, the braces – running horizontally, lengthways and diagonally – continue to shine in bright Porcelain White. In darkness, the integrated optical fibres provide a pleasant indirect illumination of the interior and a compelling night design visible from the outside. On the new MINI Rocketman Concept, the roof’s transparent surfaces are bordered by a metallic red painted strip.

All aboard for a sporting ambience and tribute to London.

The Union Jack-led colour concept is also employed extensively and to stylish effect inside the new edition of the MINI Rocketman Concept. The interior exudes a sporting ambience, while intricate details emphasise the car’s connection to London. The inner door panels and rear side sections are trimmed in dark blue nubuck leather, while the familiar MINI elliptical door rings provide an effective contrast with their white leather. The circular surrounds for features such as the air vents, door pulls and stereo speakers, are split into two sections and consist of a red inner ring and white outer ring.

The exposed carbon elements in the interior accentuate the MINI Rocketman Concept’s high-tech character and are incorporated into its colour scheme. For example, the blue paintwork used for the dashboard merges smoothly into black around the steering wheel, producing a harmonious flow of colour into the dark carbon surfaces. The most distinctive element of the dashboard is the cockpit surface, which is bordered by a red bar and has a striking 3D effect. Its relief structure depicts the name of every host city of the summer Olympic Games in the modern era using artistically intricate lettering, with London given particularly prominent billing.

The seat surfaces blend blue nubuck leather with an innovative textile fibre. The upper sections of the seats’ side bolsters, which provide additional support under dynamic cornering, are made from a rubberised material whose composition takes its cues – in terms of both style and function – from high-performance sports textiles and shoes. The seat belts also share the dark blue tone of the seat surfaces, while thin red and white strips add extra flourishes.

The new design of the MINI Rocketman Concept also displays its sporting spirit, Brit-chic style and eye for extravagant details through the range of sophisticated accessories for the interior. The stowage compartment on the centre console between the driver and front passenger symbolises a basketball court with miniature players. The key fob for the new concept car, meanwhile, comes in the form of a rocket decked out in British national colours. Other interior features include a rucksack attached behind the front passenger seat, which is made from the same rubberised material used for the seat bolsters and also sports the three-dimensional cockpit motif.

The new edition of the MINI Rocketman Concept cuts an unquestionably British and unmistakably MINI figure. Designed to welcome the athletes taking part in the “greatest sporting show on earth” to London this summer, the new edition of the concept car underlines the central role played by typically MINI customisation in every new product idea from the brand. The MINI Rocketman Concept also captures the imagination with its innovative technology, giving it all the ingredients it needs to lay on an irresistible combination of driving fun and sustainability. This, then, is further evidence of the brand’s extraordinary creativity in the design of solutions for urban mobility over the years ahead.

  • rhawth99

    That is still one ugly interior, especially the dash. Front headlights look good but the grill work  is awful.

  • Chris Underwood

    Interior is an epic fail…  “Grille within a grille” look doesn’t do anything for me, and it’s disappointing that those awful tail lights are still there.  Overall it’s somewhat less offensive in this color scheme than the previous iteration. 

    The overall shape isn’t bad.  Wonder if the shape of the front would pass EU pedestrian safety standards – the front looks nothing like the massive front overhang that the camo’ed F56’s appear to have.  If the F56 has a similar shape without the gaudy styling queues there may be hope for it yet…

    • As we’ve mentioned, much of that massive overhang on the test mules is camo. In fact it’s an R56 front grafted onto the test mule to hide the taller and flatter front. The front of the F56 will be eerily similar to the overall shape you see here. The interior and exterior details you see here generally don’t point at anything for the F56. It’s mostly the high level exterior shape and a few details.

      • Chris Underwood

         Sounds promising indeed, and explains part of the reason I dislike the look of the front on the mules – I don’t like the front of the LCI R56’s (so much that I’m going through the expense of replacing mine with a pre-LCI front).

        Now just bring back the central speedo and we’re in business.  I really want to like the next generation so I’ll be able to pick one up to replace my Clubman in a few years.

      • oldsbear

        The top of the door openings and ceiling on the Rocketman look lower than those on the R56. Will the doorway top edge and headroom of the F56 be lower than those of the R56?

  • Aurel

    ” it will visually prepare us all for release of the 3rd generation MINI next week.”


    • Are you awake yet? J/K! Yes that was a typo. It’s late next YEAR.

      • Aurel

         hahhah … well it appears a few times in the post, so double check it. let me know when I can rub my eyes again 😉

      • jeff

         and everyone is sad again…  😛

  • Aurel

    btw, I would take this Rocketman as is … all hail the quirky!

    • theR56sux

      Look! It’s an ACTUAL Mini! It has a CENTER SPEEDO! I’ll buy this before a gen 3 without the iconic feature that identifys this car.

  • zVo

    I’m not crazy about the grill either, but… the quirkiness of the design is appealing — yes, even the interior.

  • CooperB

    I got those white seats dirty just by looking at them.

  • Kurtster

    I’m digging the color combo, especially the red, white and blue seat belts. Nice touch. I like quirky but that dash looks too Jetsons for me. Overall I like the idea. Agreed on the taillights needing redesign too. I like the wheels, top and grill. 

  • Cheswick

    Looks like it came out of a cartoon. A little too round and bulbous for my tastes.

  • I like the blunt front end and I wonder whether the Cooper S intake will be through the grill rather than having the current scoop in the bonnet.

  • Vanmini

    we bitch about changes, lament when concepts are pulled, then pan them when they return…

    we are a hard group to please, aren;t we?

    • Bob Hayhurst

      I’m thinking you’ve hit on something there Vanmini; and while none of us would be here if we didn’t care, a healthy critique serves both MINI and our community well…

  • Jose

    Aesthetic choices aside, it’s not cool they keep teasing us with this concept.  Either put it into production or put it away for good.  >:-(

  • SFRedMcc

    My biggest complaint (which also applies to other mfrs.) is that once you add in a “typical USA-sized” license plate the overall design really doesn’t work for either the front or rear.

  • Gerarddm

    Tail lights are epically stupid. Front end lacks that almost Aston-like hungry aspect on the current cars.

    Does little for me, overall.

  • Yusefte

    Is this Rocketman driveable or do they have to push it around to take the pics? 

  • Bob Hayhurst

    I like this concept. A lot. It’s got nice color combinations both exterior and interior. About the right size though for me, it could be smaller. I like the interior but being so stylized, it’s sure to offend some people. Some bits are unusual but it is a concept car. What I really want to know Is when does MINI release the engineers (suspension, chassis, engine) to make this thing hump? It’s not enough that it looks good (Ms. Pennsylvania),it’s got to perform…

  • Piperbud

    “MINImalism” is the iconic design virtue that MINI should resurrect and retain.  It is, after all, the reason a MINI is called a “MINI.”  I love the scale of this vehicle, but many of the exterior and interior details are peculiar-looking. The grill, in particular, is comical and arguably ludicrous looking.  MINI needs to inspire enthusiasts with a much more purposeful/motorsports appearance versus becoming Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride! It kind of reminds me of some of the early Japanese concept vehicles.  The concept is way too funky and just plain weird, but its size is superb.

  • Nick

    I really Like the exterior proportions, red and blue color combination and love the wheel design. The interior is too far-out, but it’s just a concept. 

  • xtom

    As far as i remember all the mini concpets presented became real production cars.

    Please Herr26 tell us something about the production future of the Rocketman

    • We’ve written about it extensively here. Look in the categories for more info. But don’t expect it anytime soon.

    • Herr26

      I believe they are still trying to make it work. On how far they are I have no idea but I heard they were talking to Hyundai. The Concept is brought back out to generate more reaction to the idea of a mini-MINI, previous BMW and MINI concepts have made production on the basis of prolonged public reaction. There is extensive work done on the Rocketman from model variation to interior and exterior personalisation. The actual Rocketman Rocket logo is the key symbol for this car.

      I know I want one , I know there are people within BMW who want one , unfortunately the FWD platfrom cannot go smaller to accomodate. Engineering an all-new one by itself would not be cost effective so BMW are seeking partners to gestate the car. The MINI Rocketman would be an ideal opening for the MINI brand and a great first car for image-conscious individuals. I hope they realise the potential and show the S Rocketman as a Concept, I guarantee reaction to that model will have the masses readying their deposits.   

      Just make mine a Rocketman S in Spice Orange or metallic black with the Rocketman Rocket logo in orange diagonally on the white roof…  Wheeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!

      • Bob Hayhurst

        I’m with you Herr26!! I don’t recall what the Rocketman Rocket logo looks like but I’ll take mine in Red on a white roof….

  • Jamesn331

    I did a mock up when the origibal concept was released last year of what I think the front grille should look like, is there any way of posting it to you guys?

  • Lefty

    This is the REAL New Mini – now lets stop mucking about – get the details finished and get it in production. It will be just brush aside all the competition in its class…. 

  • A car like this, priced between the $15k-$20k would sell like hot cake. Love it.

  • Blainestang

    I’ll echo what others have said… Stop teasing us and just build it!

    I don’t care about the “concept” interior and crap like that, but if they build this and it drives like a MINI should (I’m looking at you, Countryman), I will buy one.

  • Stever

    So glad the Rocketman monicker is still with it. Dear Mini, this is THE name for this car. Please do not change.

  • gokartride

    They have to build something of this type (with fewer gadgets, I hope) or the brand’s name will become somewhat silly.  I have heard several comments about how “big” MINIs are beginning to look.  We have often been told MINIs can’t be smaller but that simply is just not so.   In other news, looks like they lost the boot space, which is fine with me assuming the seats fold down.

  • Gotta love the name; besides the obvious references to one of Britain’s more icon pop-stars: Elton John and his song “Rocket Man”!

    Sure a name may just be a name, but I think there is a lot of symbolism here in this concept and I love it.  The outlandish taillights, etched glass roof, Jetsons-esq interior with odd cup-holders, distracting back-lit panels, a glass tongue sticking out of the steering wheel as the miniature speedometer are all a little out there, but they should be.  Maybe I think MINI’s concept cars have been a little predicable, but I like the Rocketman.  It reminds me both in name and design of some of the post WWII bonkers concept show cars and of the modern architectural movement called Googie which was designed to be futuristic and flashy.

    The most important part of the Rocketman is that the interior and exterior are instantly recognizable as MINI.  The stunning color combination is far more appealing and relevant than the bland palette the original concept car was draped with.  To answer some of the “Why would they do that?” questions, may I suggest reading an interview with the designer: