Ever since MINI Design head Gert Hildebrand and Exterior Design head Marcus Syring dreamt up the idea of the Rocketman while waiting for a delayed flight at a New York airport, there’s been a powerful movement within the company to get it built. While the initial design study was seen as a major success, ultimately it died on the vine due to BMW not wanting to invest in a city car version of the forthcoming UKL platform. More specifically BMW didn’t believe the sales volume would ever make up the initial investment unless they sold the car for the same price as the F56 – which to many would be unacceptable.
But lucky for us that didn’t stop the enthusiasm inside MINI for making a city car.
Fueled by industry and demographic trends and a massively positive reaction to the concept, MINI has continued to investigate ways to move forward with the Rocketman by partnering with another automaker. The first and most obvious choice was Toyota who’s small car platform would fit the technical requirements well. But rumors suggested that BMW engineers didm’t didn’t confident they could get a MINI level of performance out of the chassis and reportedly decided to wait.
That wait could be nearing an end. According to sources in Germany MINI is working through an internal proposal of a vehicle smaller than the current F56 two door hatch. The smaller model, similar in size to the Rocketman concept is being conceived as both a three and five door hatch and will likely be based on partnering with another automaker. Who that automaker is we don’t know but once again it would make sense for Toyota to be involved. BMW and Toyota have recently become technical partners in several ventures around hybrid and hydrogen technology not to mention that they are designed at least one sports car together for a release later this decade.
Given that type of collaboration it wouldn’t be out of bounds for BMW to have direct input into the next generation Toyota Aygo (16″ shorter than the current F56) or even the iQ (which is a full 33″ shorter). That direct input would be directed towards making sure resulting MINI feel as gokart like as possible and accommodate either a 1.5L three cylinder MINI engine or something even smaller co-developed with Toyota.
Why is MINI so eager to produce something smaller than the F56? The brand is born out of a less is more philosophy and a few internally at MINI are concerned that the current product range doesn’t make that point clear enough. A small city car could serve as both a price leader and a halo vehicle that better exemplifies the brand ethos than the current hatch.
According to sources we expect a sneak peek at this new small MINI in concept form late this year or early next.