May 25th, 2014
This one is a must watch. While most BMW and MINI videos are dry beyond words, MINI has created something special for us here. We get a literal walk-through of the design and build process for the brand’s latest concept, the MINI SuperLeggera in mostly a single camera take. It’s a fantastic video you’ll want to watch more than once just to take it all in. And then there’s the car itself. While it’s not quite like seeing it in the flesh, seeing it in this video gives us our best look at what MINI and Superleggera have created.
May 23rd, 2014
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.
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.
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.
Mar 22nd, 2014
When MINI named Anders Warming head of MINI design after Gert Hildebrand had announced his plan to move on, many of us were left wondering how that would affect the cars we love so much. And made Anders Warming qualified to lead MINI into the future? As it turns out quite a bit. continued →
Dec 11th, 2013
Over the past few days we’ve been focusing on MINI Design’s past through an interview with the lead exterior designer of the R50 and then a look back at some key concepts that launched the brand. Today we wanted to step back but in a different direction. It’s a direction that’s more relevant to the F56 and to where MINI is heading. In late 2010 MINI unleashed the Rocketman concept after furious work by the Gert Hildebrand lead design team. The initial concept came together during a layout at JFK earlier that year where Hildebrand and Head of Exterior Design Marcus Syring (now at Rolls Royce) starting talking and sketching a smaller more basic MINI. continued →
Dec 9th, 2013
Given the launch of the new MINI and the recent pre-production shell that popped up on eBay, we’ve been digging into our archives a bit and thinking about how the modern MINI came about. Over the past ten years MotoringFile has written much about Mini, Rover and BMW in the 1990s but it’s such a good story it’s always worth a revisit. So with that in mind we wanted to go back and take look at the concepts from that time period that help guide us to the R50 which set the tone for all modern MINI’s to come.
The idea of a modern MINI had been floating around since the late 60’s. But the Mini’s appeal and subsequent sales success kept it in production for two decades longer than originally anticipated. However the various government backed companies that manufactured the Mini through the years were less than successful on the business side of things. In fact British Leyland, Rover, etc tried to kill the Mini more than once (first to avoid converting the engine to run on unleaded, then to avoid increasing safety requirements) but English public opinion was too negative. So when BMW bought Rover and the Mini there was quite a bit of hope for the future. continued →
Dec 7th, 2013
Frank Stephenson, exterior designer of the R50 and R53 MINI was interviewed earlier this year on the occasion of his latest creation debuting – the McLaren P1. Frank, a long time reader and friend of MF created the R50 during a time of intense turmoil and competition amongst BMW and Rover designers and engineers. The resulting car is often looked at as the most pure of not best looking modern MINI to date. Even if a lack of pedestrian safety standards certainly gave the design team much more freedom, it’s hard to argue the R50 isn’t design success.
It’s with that success that Frank moved onto Ferrari and Fiat where he oversaw everything from the F430 Scuderia to the Fiat 500 to the Maserati MC12. From there Frank moved north and to McLaren where he cleaned up an already in progress MC12 and designed the already mythical P1. So to say he has some credibility around MotoringFile and the general automotive world is an understatement. And that begs the question, what are his thoughts on the modern state of MINI design? Yahoo Automotive’s Jamie Kitman caught up with Frank earlier this year and talked specifically about that amongst other automotive topics. Keep in mind that this interview happened earlier this year and thus doesn’t include reactions to the new F56. However the full interview is well worth a read but the MINI specifics portions (which you can see after the break) are particularly interesting.
To say Frank dislikes the R5X MINI range would be an understatement. We can’t say we agree with him but it’s easy to understand his perspective. While he didn’t have to deal with the raft of new crash standards with his R50, he is clearly qualified to have an opinion.
Check it out after the break. continued →
Dec 3rd, 2013
Want an early look at MINI development? This prototype shell found on eBay gives us an interesting window into that time period where Rover still had some control over engineering and BMW was guiding the ship from afar.