World Debut: MINI Superleggera Concept

Today MINI takes the wraps off of its latest concept the Superleggera Vision just in time for it’s world premiere at this weekend’s Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este. The concept takes the chassis from the upcoming MINI convertible (which should debut early next year) and adds a beautifully designed and handcrafted exterior. But beyond the beauty what does this tell us (if anything) about the next generation MINI Convertible or even Roadster let alone MINI’s future design direction? For one it reminds us how wonderful open top motoring can be. There are also some interesting design flourishes here that deserve to be made mention of. For one this is a beautifully clean version of the F56’s front facia that we’d love to see in production some day. Then there’s the gorgeous cockpit with an interesting mix or digital and analog gauges that feels much more restrained and (dare we say) modern than even the F56’s hugely improved interior. Also look for the fully digital tachometer seen in the concept to make be introduced as an optional extra in future MINIs.

Taken as a whole the concept clearly represents what MINI Design Head Anders Warming has been prepping us for – a progression of MINI’s design language into something more modern yet with clear links to the past. In many ways this is the boldest change we’ve seen from MINI design since the R50 debuted in 2001. Look for subtle adoptions of this more refined yet retro design philosophy to find its way into future MINIs in the coming years.

P90151087-MINI Superleggera Vision Roadster Concept

What does this mean about the future of the MINI Roadster? Based on sources within MINI, the Superleggera concept hints that a decision has been made. We believe MINI will ultimately green light an F56 based roadster and coupe with BMW siblings in the form of the Z1 and Z2. Those vehicles would likely sit atop of the MINI model range as the halo vehicle for the entire brand.

One final note before you dive into the gallery below. In some ways, this is the closest MINI has ever come to creating a traditional British roadster a la a Triumph. A brand name that BMW coincidentally also owns. Is there a connection? Doubtful but the genre and that brand in particular has clearly been a source of inspiration for MINI designers in this concept.

P90151099-MINI Superleggera Vision Roadster Concept

Official Release: The BMW Group celebrates the meeting of the time-honoured and the contemporary at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2014 with a very special concept: the MINI Superleggera Vision. This exclusive interpretation of an open-top two-seater was created by MINI and Touring Superleggera, the tradition-steeped design and coach building house based in Milan. The MINI Superleggera Vision is on the one hand a classic roadster, a compact and agile two-seater, expressing the most minimalist and emotional style of motoring; and on the other hand its electric drivetrain gives the car distinctly modern driving dynamics. In collaboration with MINI, Touring Superleggera has designed and built an elaborately crafted, unique model which blends the tradition of classic coachwork construction with the MINI’s authentic British styling to create timeless aesthetic appeal.

  • Modern Britishness meets Italian flair: the iconic design of MINI meets elegant, athletic beauty – interpreted in contemporary style.
  • Classic Italian body construction and hand-shaped metal sheeting give the MINI Superleggera Vision a unique emotional appeal.
  • Both on the inside and outside, the form is reduced to the maximum extent so as to achieve a clear focus on the distinctive driving experience.
  • The interior reflects traditional coachwork construction in terms of materials and styling, combined with the icons of MINI interior design.
  • High-end materials such as leather, aluminium and black chrome highlight the clear aesthetics of the interior.

Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design on the concept: “Touring Superleggera and MINI have much in common: both companies attach great importance to their history and this is something which defines their outward appearance to this day. What is more, they both emphasise iconic design and distinctive solutions. These elements are merged in the MINI Superleggera Vision to create an elegant automobile which interprets a British roadster under the influence of Italian style and hand craftsmanship.”

P90151089-MINI Superleggera Vision Roadster Concept

British design with an Italian accent – the exterior design.

“The MINI Superleggera Vision elegantly perpetuates what the Classic Mini started 55 years ago: reduction to the essentials. Its energetic, minimalistic design embodies the dynamic essence of an automobile. At the same time it creates unique emotional beauty in combining the past and future of the automotive industry, i.e. traditional coachwork craftsmanship and modern design styling. It was a pleasure for me to design a concept like this.” says Anders Warming, Head of MINI Design. The perfectly balanced proportions indicate at first glance what the electrically powered MINI Superleggera Vision has to offer in terms of a driving experience: the stretched bonnet, long wheelbase and cool, short overhangs convey pure driving fun. As in every MINI, the wheels are set widely on the body, promising a high degree of agility. The passenger cell is slightly set back, further underscoring the car’s dynamic impression. The overall effect of the MINI Superleggera Vision is sporty, elegant and dynamic.

The front of the MINI Superleggera Vision features the traditional MINI design icons: two circular headlights and a hexagonal grille define the unmistakable front section, providing a contemporary interpretation of features which have become firmly established over decades. There are also striking classic sports car elements such as a wide track and distinctively curved wheel arches that give the front a dynamic presence. The classic MINI bonnet stripes are three-dimensionally embossed and run on into high-quality polished aluminum accents. The inlaid bonnet harks back to classic British roadsters of bygone days. Meanwhile the horizontal rib look of the radiator grille adds a classic sporty touch. The fact that it is closed is a discreet indication of the car’s electric motor. The two fog lights echo the circular contours of the headlamps, providing a smaller interpretation of them in the radiator grille. The air inlets are also circular, giving the front section a distinctive touch. A flat front splitter made of carbon fibre closes off the front to the road, thereby underscoring the car’s sporty statement down to the last detail.

P90150980-MINI Superleggera Vision Roadster Concept

Classic coachwork construction in a cutting-edge interpretation.

The striking element of the side view is the characteristic “Touring” line. It embodies both the high art of coachwork building and classic aesthetics. Surrounded by tight, seamless surfaces, it traces a precise, vibrant movement from the front wheels through to the rear. This reflects the great craftsmanship and longstanding experience of Touring Superleggera in area of body construction: ever since it was founded the company has stood for fine, light sports car bodies. To this day, Touring Superleggera™ shapes large aluminium sheets by hand using the most performing frame structures. The hand-crafted style of construction gives the MINI Superleggera Vision an aesthetic form which would be virtually impossible to achieve by machine manufacture. “MINI and Touring both believe that proportions are the key factor of beauty, and share the same values of essentiality and innovation” says Louis de Fabribeckers, Head of design of Touring Superleggera. “In this car all unnecessary equipment or decoration is sacrificed, as performance is gained through lightness and efficiency of the bodywork and interior. The Italian touch is in the proportions and the typical waistline.”

There are very few gaps in the body since it is constructed from large sheets of metal. The result is a closed look that conveys high-quality elegance. The specially developed exterior paint finish Como Blue, almost liquid in effect, stands for both classic and modern style. It particularly underlines the refined Italian touch of the MINI Superleggera Vision. The elaborate rims and the elegant exterior mirrors in long-hole look complete with a mirror base in polished aluminium add exclusive accentuations at the side. Echoing the front section, the discreet CFRP sills underscore the sporty character of the MINI Superleggera Vision.

Meanwhile the striking fin defines the look of the rear, adding a touch of extravagance. It gives the MINI Superleggera Vision a particular longitudinal dynamics while at the same time embodying the unconventional air of both MINI and Touring Superleggera. Like the “Touring” line at the side, it is modeled with enormous precision. The highlight of the flat, wide rear is the unusual lights: designed in the form of a Union Jack divided in two, they combine functionality and symbolism in a way never seen before. In this way they express the British roots of the MINI Superleggera Vision while at the same time emphasising the modern LED technology as already used in the new MINI. A chrome bar demarcates the rear lights at the centre of the rear, making this area a classic British jewellery icon. The CFRP diffuser rounds off the rear to the road in sporty style.

P90151086-MINI Superleggera Vision Roadster Concept

Echoing the exterior – the interior design.

The exterior and interior design of the MINI Superleggera™ Vision merge seamlessly. Only a surrounding shoulder line in polished aluminium visually separates the exterior and interior from each other. The border creates an encircling, sporty gesture that consistently perpetuates the clear elegance and generous surfaces of the exterior.

In its styling and in the look and feel of its materials, the interior design celebrates the tradition and the essence of classic coachwork construction. It reflects how the automobile was created: the essential features are quoted – the untreated aluminium sheeting and the tube-shaped structural elements – and they are made visible in the interior by means of a high-quality interpretation. This is most striking in the dashboard. The latter is created from a single aluminium sheet and has been left in the state the automobile body would look like without a paint finish. The generously sized unpainted surfaces and the clearly visible hand craftsmanship of the dashboard go together to reflect the skilled artistry of the coachbuilders. The doors and the sporty 3-spoke steering wheel likewise reveal the traditional method of construction. The structural elements in the doors form a Union Jack, discreetly indicating the British origins of the MINI Superleggera Vision.

The Center Instrument in the middle of the instrument panel draws on MINI design styling and has been extended for the MINI Superleggera Vision to include a touch-sensitive control element and two circular instruments with metal surrounds on the right. In addition to the analog clock on the far right, the second framed instrument activates the camera which is integrated between the driver and front passenger seat. It has the function of capturing those particularly worthwhile moments on the road.

P90151091-MINI Superleggera Vision Roadster Concept

Classic and modern to equal degrees – colour and material design.

The classic materials aluminium and leather in a virtually untreated state define the reduced aesthetics of the MINI Superleggera Vision in the interior. Below the shoulder covered in brown leather in the classical color Sabbia, the materials are kept to the essentials. The structural elements in the doors and centre console are finished in high-quality black chrome, exclusively set apart from the aluminium surfaces and the raw, matt textured paint finish in the footwell area. This deliberately contrasting mixture of structured surfaces and high-end materials gives the MINI Superleggera Vision an exceptional charm. The sporty bucket seats are reminiscent of bygone MINI motor racing achievements and are covered in high-quality black leather. True to the MINI Motto “Hide & Reveal”, accentuations in Misty Magenta provide a touch of Italian flair in tongue-in-cheek MINI style in concealed spots such as the two hot air outlets under the instrument panel and inside the door openings in the structural elements of the doors.

P90150982-MINI Superleggera Vision Roadster Concept

Coachbuilding in 2014.

Since 1926, Touring Superleggera is forerunner of advanced automotive design and custom coachbuilding. The company is one of the rare firms offering the whole in-house productive cycle from the first sketch, all the way through surface engineering and structural analysis, style models and prototypes, to turn-key, low-volume production of special bodywork.

“We are delighted that MINI wanted to stimulate an independent initiative and particularly Italian design for the first time”, says Piero Mancardi, CEO of Touring Superleggera. He continues: “This project also shows MINIs attention to preserving and nurturing the skills of craftsmanship incorporated in modern coach building.”

The MINI Superleggera™ Vision epitomizes the potential of “Carrozzeria” in today’s automobile industry: blending creativity and flexibility with rigor and respect of high standards. The result is a car of classic beauty that is also state of the art.

Full Gallery

  • ken valley

    Want. Now. Please.

  • MJCW

    Fantastic….. there is hope!!. Now…. if you take that clean fresh form, add a fast-back roof/hatch with classic MGB/GT proportions… you have a winner!! (and please don’t start adding nostrils and trending/fad details….please…)

  • b-

    Like the R58 & R59 way more than this.

  • Jay

    Oh man. If the Roadster looks anything like this concept, it will be a classic

  • sugurunishioka

    Shut up and take my money!

  • Herr26

    Its a Vision… But it does conform to some of the creative ideas that are in motion in regards to a singular replacement for the MINI Coupe & Roadster using a design language that is completely individual but brand familiar.

    There is ongoing work on the Coupe/Roadster replacements using MINI F56 Mechanicals and drivetrain – the whole UKL structure but not using the body of a MINI as last time. The replacement Coupe and Roadster will bring more beauty and tradition to offer something truly individual.

    Although perceived as a vision there are key elements that virtually show ideas that are work-in-progress especially proportions embodying classic british sports car design and the main appeal to the BMW board of management to envoke that classic , fun open air sporty feeling and a good philosophy for its “British” brand MINI.

    The new interpretation has also been conceived as a Coupe as well. But relates to the current MINI with its “reverse cap” roof. The new twins will of course feature BMW twins as BMW plan a Z1 Roadster and Z2 Coupe although they will be clothed in modern post-futuristic progressive clothes heavily influenced by The BMW Vision ConnectDrive concept car. The current MINI Coupe and Roadster are niche models so it is easy to forget they were not expected to sell in high numbers as a volume MINI model. However the cars between them have sold around 20,000 units a piece so it has its owners and customers who like the sporting proportions. Of course the new F56 is in much better position to offer customers more features and technology than the Coupe/Roadster.

    BMW put forward a brief to capture a concept that is familiar but can be much,much more competitive in the segment. The new car can be perceived as a budget Porsche Boxster/Cayman but in the Miata/ MX-5 segment. Yet still be a MINI and a re-interpretation to offer customers of all ages a very exciting and different sports car concept.

    • fishbert

      There is ongoing work on the Coupe/Roadster replacements…

      Oh dear god, yes!!

  • Ken

    Owning a Triumph and loving the MG/Triumph marques. I was excited about BMW owning the Triumph name. When BMW brought back the MINI my excitement grew. After seeing the mess BMW has made of MINI I hope they stay far away from bringing back a new Triumph sports car!

    • Herr26

      There will be no TRIUMPH return. The Roadster Coupe and forthcoming Sedan will be badged as MINIs.

      • TurbochargedChili

        The sedan has been canned

  • TurbochargedChili

    It’s still got the fish mouth.

    • lavardera

      No, the shape of the grill is much more like the R56, and the classic.

      • TurbochargedChili

        I’m trying to send pics of all of them but they aren’t posting.

        • lavardera

          Yeah, you’re right – its more like the F56 than the R56.

        • TurbochargedChili

          I’m not a fan of the new gaping hole grilles that are being plastered on everything from Audi’s to Toyota’s. Audi started it, then Lexus went wild with it. Now, MINI and BMW are moving into an age where either they have large oddly shaped air inlets on every front air dam, or with MINI they’ve done the big open hole and crazy shaped air inlets. It’s just not flattering. I prefer the classic split look 100 times over this open look.

        • Jason

          If you want to be technical, the F56 is only copying the original Mini grill design…

        • TurbochargedChili

          The original Mini grille was much classier and didn’t have that terrible humongous black lip in it. It was solid chromed bars instead of the new grille’s design. If the black lip was body colored, I think it would look a ton better.

      • MJCW

        I agree…how’s this:

        • MJCW

          That JPG didn’t go through. Here we go:

        • MJCW

          Stubborn Pic

        • lavardera

          I don’t think that looks better. I’ve no problem with the shape as built, but the stuff inside the grill seems a terrible distraction.

        • TurbochargedChili

          So much better.

        • TurbochargedChili

          The other problem besides the shape is it’s size. Look how much bigger the opening is on the F56. It’s at least twice as tall as the R56’s grille. It just looks ridiculous.

    • TurbochargedChili

      The R53 and R56 had semi-circle grilles. They were separated by the front body colored bumper that was a continuous piece. This still has the one large opening instead of the two openings found on the R50/3 and R56.

      • TurbochargedChili

        When I see the R56 next to the F56, I think… What the hell happened in the studio, that they thought this was an improvement.

  • chris94602

    oh, gawd, I think I just had a ‘gasm…

  • Scott Eaves

    I am always impressed and amazed by those with the skill to hand craft metal into gorgeous shapes.

  • lavardera


    • lavardera

      I like the rear deck fin, but would trade it for a drivers head fairing in a minute.

      • lavardera

        Today looking again I’m feeling the arching of the rear deck is too high – it should have had a flatter rear deck, with an asymmetrical drivers side head fairing to break up the flatness of the deck. That would have looked great, and could support a fin for the concept, to be dropped for production. The arch here is fighting the flow of the cars lines, jumps out at me just behind the seat roll bar where the cockpit opening turns from the door to run behind the seat, and finds itself awkwardly running uphill.

    • lavardera

      Only thing I am not liking is the bit of fussiness on the hood lid – those recess features that end in . . .what is it? some kind of light? That could go, would not miss it.

    • lavardera

      the red version in the sketches has much more of a Shelby Cobra vibe. The final car is much less muscular, more MGB, or Alpha Romeo than Cobra.

    • lavardera

      actually reminds me of my edit to the R56 roadster sketch from 2009:

      • ken valley

        That’s my favorite mini render ever. If the coupe/roadster had looked like that….

        • Mr Remi


        • lavardera

          Its a subtle edit – the one in the middle is the Mini studio sketch, and the top and bottom are my edit to side the cabin rearward.

    • lavardera

      but it is great to see mini doing such a high level concept car for a change – instead of a thinly veiled production car.

  • JamesN

    I always thought the coupe/roadster should have been pitched as a successor to the classic Mini based roadsters such as the Marcos, the Ogle and GTM’s. They never really caught that spirit. This however would! Taking MINI mechanicals but placing a specialist body and design on top, that’s more the kit-car spirit and indeed fits with the British tradition of men in sheds building cars using what they can find. This might look to be only influenced by the Triumphs, MG’s and Healey’s of old; actually it’s the biggest indicator that the British car industry is missed so much!

  • AMS

    Holy crap, that’s sexy. My Roadster arena downright dumpy by comparison.

  • wetwolf

    change the grill headlights and call it a Triumph. But do not touch the A pillar back….It is Perfect. Reminds a bit like a cross of Jag E-type and Spitfire 1500. We need a bare-bones cheap fun car like the Spitfire. Keep the electronic widgets out of it and I will buy now.

    • Ken

      I have known and own a Spitfire 1500. This is no Spitfire!

  • Joe

    I’ve never wanted a mini so badly

  • oldsbear

    None of the “fish mouth” crew has objected to the silly shark fin?!

  • lmagri

    Mini need to built this car…I want one parked next to my countrymam s..

    Even do the ideal one should be the front of the red sketch car and the rear of the supperleggera with the british flag lights and no fin to make it perfect……

  • David T

    Love it!!!!!!

  • Kurtster

    OMG! Shut up and take my money, please!

  • Mr Remi

    I love this. Especially the approach of reconceiving the body from the ground up. Bold.

    The interior is stunning, too. Am a HUGE supporter of dispensing with as much of the technology as possible and going analogue. As long as it has got good speakers and there’s a 5mm audio-in to jack my phone – I’m happy. 🙂

    I’d be willing to sell my condo to get a coupe version of this vehicle, This is what I’ve been waiting for.

    Am good with the grill – it’s cool in its own way. I’m still getting used to the shark fin (preferring more of the cobra look) but i could probably get used to a fin.

    For me, this Roadster/coupe and the Rocketman would become the pre-eminent ambassadors of the brand.

  • scamper

    Good gracious, I would buy the living hell out of that wee beastie. I don’t care that it looks like a mockup with some existing parts thrown on. I haven’t felt this drawn to a MINI since I laid eyes on the very first R50s. Make it electric and I’ll buy two. Otherwise, I’ll buy just the one.

  • The craftsmanship here is so impressive I really want to like this…but I don’t.

    The red/ sketch concept I recognize as a MINI. But the Como blue concept with its sheet metal creases alone remind me of a BMW Roadster immediately. The bonnet treatment recalls the Thunderbird. The fog lights (?) in the grill are a distraction. I’m surprised so many readers are in love with it.

  • Jgh548

    Everything the F’ed 56 isn’t – handsome, concise, retro, characterful and balanced.

    Spot on, love it!

  • exceljerry

    Can I get one here in Texas?

  • piper

    Interesting, but not appealing to my aesthetic sensibilities. The grill and front end are particularly unattractive; undecided about the Batmobile rear fin. MINI should focus design energy on bringing the Rocketman to market since it epitomizes the essence of MINI scale and design.

    • Jgh548

      Agree on the Rocketman. It would be a good move right now for many reasons.

  • Erik

    Love the look, and love my MINIs, but that deserves a RWD platform like a classic roadster should.

    • Kurtster

      I’m hopping it’s AWD. I won’t drive a RWD as a year-round car in New England.

  • wretch

    Yes please… I’d say goodbye to my r59 and that’s saying a lot!

  • Nick

    Well it looks like I may have to give up my beloved JCW Coupe if this concept materializes.

    • Kurtster

      Mine too. Love my coupe but this would be irresistible.

  • Andy

    Cool concept, however, my opinion, that tail fin has to go. It throws off the entire sleekness of the boot and the whole car. It just looks a bit corney The tail lights… they ROCK!

  • Andy

    Cool concept, however, my opinion, that tail fin has to go. It throws off the entire sleekness of the boot and the whole car and it’s a bit corny. The tail lights… they ROCK!

  • BudD

    Beautiful hand-formed metal working as taught at Art Center College of Design. Regrettably, all of this skilled craftsmanship resulted in an incredibly unattractive design. MINI should consider referencing the “bug-eyed” Austin Healy Sprite. In many ways its minimalism is precisely what post R53 MINI generations have “progressively” lost.

  • MINI partnering with Touring is an inspired choice – it says a lot about the future of MINI.

    Who is Touring?

    I came across Touring earlier in the year when Jeremy Clarkson at TopGear reviewed the Alfa Romeo Disco Volatne by Touring. You can see the full video of Jeremy discussing Touring here (well worth it):

    I have no idea how this got onto the Internet – but grateful all the same. A cinematic video for car nuts.

  • MJCW

    In reference to Lavardera, that grill could be improved:

  • Chris

    I think the feature I like the most is that it has a proper bonnet and front wings over the “clam shell” style the R5x and F5x vehicles carry.