According to super-sleuth Georg Kacher (who usually gets things mostly correct) the BMW board approved the MINI Superleggera for production in 2018 three years ago. However instead of celebrating the impending release of the roadster today, were mourning the fact that the Superleggera is dead with no production plans on the horizon.
What happened? A business couldn’t be made for a Electric Convertible derivative within the business climate at BMW circa 2015. Never mind that the concept made people weak in the knees. BMW (a notoriously conservative company) decided to invest elsewhere within the MINI line-up and prepare for a more traditional electric model which we now know is coming in late 2019 as the MINI Cooper SE.
But it would seem the spirit of the Superleggera lives on. Judging from the spy photos and taking to our sources, MINI’s 2019 refresh (happening in March of 2018) will be influenced by the car in its lighting design. Specifically the front headlight design with the 360 degree DRLs and the Union Jack taillights. Perhaps even more important the less is more philosophy of the design language we saw on the superleggera is set to heavily influence MINI’s fourth generation of cars beginning in 2021.
Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW’s board member in charge of Mini, has said the Superleggera would be a “great addition to the Mini range”
Reportedly Schwarzenbauer had been “pushing” to get the Superleggera into production since 2014 which is generally a good sign considering he is ultimately responsible for the brand.
Yet not even he could overcome the business challenges of bringing an electric roadster to the marketplace in a sea of crossovers.
The Superleggera was an incredibly important concept for MINI when it debuted as it previewed the brand’s evolution that officially began a year later with the Clubman. As we now know that was just the start. Since the Superleggera, MINI has moved away from the retro-futuristic (and at times cartoonish) design elements that we saw on the first few generations of cars to a more restrained and modern approach.
Taken as a whole the concept represented what MINI Design Head Anders Warming (Who since left the brand) had 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 was the boldest change we’ve seen from MINI design since the R50 debuted in 2001. At the time of the debut we said “Look for subtle adoptions of this more refined yet retro design philosophy to find its way into future MINIs in the coming years.” We’ve now seen some of that restrained interior design approach show up in the Clubman and a Countryman. But we expect much more in the next generation MINI due out in 2021.
Read and see more in MF’s Superleggera section.