Lets get this out of the way right now. MINI CoupÃ© concept (or the Coopster as we call it here at MF) was built because and for MotoringFile readers. In an interview with Insideline, Director of MINI Design Gert Hildebrand says this in so many words;
>”New ideas never come from the board offices; they come from the floor of the design studio. BMW does trend analysis a lot and every three months we talk to Mini representatives from all over the world to discuss the needs of our clients. But we were never asked to do a coupe. We’re close followers of blogs and so forth, and we just felt that people would like the idea of a car like this.”
The spirit of the MINI community is what brought this car to the concept stage and what will ultimately bring it to production. But did MINI create what many of us have been asking for? Let’s take a closer look at the concept.
The coupe will be launched as Cooper S and a JCW models initially and will be focused on the enthusiast in their spec. With a weight reduction of up to 200 lbs, this car uses the time proven of adding lightness (as Colin Chapman would say). MINI has created the roof entirely out of aluminum and (as sources tell us) the final car will use a slightly wider track to increase mechanical grip. All that coupled with increased structural rigidity and 200 less pounds to lug around, there’s little question that this will be the fastest MINI ever produced from the factory. Everything that makes the MINI a Mini is in this car. And to be put it another way, everything we love about MINI here at MotoringFile is embodied in this car.
Look for production to start sometime in 2011 as a 2012 model. Pricing shouldn’t be dramatically higher the MCS or JCW. We’d expect MINI to position the CoupÃ© around the cost of the current convertible models in terms of an increase over the R56 models. The speedster (imagine the above photo without the roof) will debut around the same time) will likely add another 8-10% on top of that price.
Production will be carried out in two locations. Body in white (the basic structure) will be done at Oxford with a 3rd party doing final assembly. This should allow for some more bespoke items (JCW suspension anyone?) to be fitted from the factory.
MINI Design couldn’t just put a simple roof on the car. They had to create something more characterful. Marcus Syring, head of MINI exterior design and the designer of both the Z3 M Coupe and the E46 M3 (not the mention the R55), penned this new concept and his penchant for making a statement is clearly seen in the roof. And Mr. Hildebrand says it best; “Maybe we can bring back the same adventurous customers we had with the BMW Z3 coupe.”
So yes, we would agree the roof is an acquired taste. But there are so many angles to judge it by that, at the very least, it’s hard to not study it at every opportunity.
Versatility & Efficiency
Another attribute that is a hallmark of the brand is versatility. And clearly a line has been drawn in the sand in that the coupÃ© only seats two. Yet the car (with clever hatchback design) features an astonishing 8.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. That’s almost the same as an R56 MINI hatchback. So you’re getting two seats instead of four, yet almost the same luggage space.
Then there’s efficiency. The MINI Coupe will feature the same 1.6L engine found in the JCW and MCS. One of the most efficient sporty petrol powered four cylinder engines currently on the market. It’s a compelling case over a used Z4 Coupe or anything with more power (and naturally more weight).
Imagine the coupe above finished in all Midnight black with 18″ wheels, JCW suspension and JCW emblems. Red leather interior, navigation, and a touch of carbon fiber. It sounds like our idea of heaven on the road and on the track. Yes we love the idea, the spec and the look of this car. There is no question that the roof could have been easily designed to be more easily palatable, but there is something to be said about making a statement with a design and a car. And the MINI CoupÃ© concept makes the statement that we (and surely many of you) can appreciate.
This is the car that will be coveted years after production has ceased. It’s the car from the MINI range that will be referenced in hushed tones of admiration like the GP or the BMW Z3 and Z4 M Coupe in ten years time.
Yes not everyone will love it. But that’s actually part of the success of the CoupÃ©. It will be a rare car driven by the most hardcore of enthusiasts who make a statement with their choice. Count us as one of those who are itching to make that kind of statement.