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First look: Mini celebrates with coupe

Fast back: The sloped-back Mini Coupe Concept was inspired by a baseball cap on backwards.

Coupe concept emerges ahead of Frankfurt as Mini’s 50th birthday gift to itself

Mini logo27 Aug 2009

By MARTON PETTENDY

MINI has marked the day of its 50th anniversary by revealing a striking coupe show car that will make its global debut at Frankfurt on September 15.

Described by its designer as a “pocket Porsche” and almost certain to enter production within two to three years, the notchbacked Mini will join the born-again BMW brand’s original Cooper hatch and Cabrio two-doors, and the five-door Clubman wagon.

A ‘Speedster’ roadster version of the Coupe Concept is also expected to appear at Frankfurt, but before either model enters production the first Mini SUV, which debuted as the Mini Crossover concept at Paris last year before being dubbed the Crossman, is likely to hit showrooms next year as the Mini Maxi.

The Mini Coupe Concept features ‘faster’ front and rear glass, the latter forming the top half of a booted tailgate that technical still makes it a hatchback, but one with a coupe-style silhouette.

Almost identical to other Minis ahead of its A-pillar, the coupe adds aggressive bumpers and side skirts, plus a rear roof spoiler. While its lower ‘floating’ aluminium roof continues one of Mini’s most obvious design characteristics, the Coupe’s biggest difference is its more compact overall dimensions, which house just two seats.

39 center imageRiding on triple-tone 18-inch alloy wheels, the Coupe Concept is 51mm lower than the Mini hatch at just 1356mm high, as well as 15mm longer at 3714mm and the same 1683mm wide.

Apart from being about 100kg lighter overall, featuring a lower centre of gravity and being more aerodynamic thanks to a windscreen and A-pillars that are sloped 16mm further back than on the Cooper, Mini says the coupe’s luggage capacity is 250 litres – up from the standard car’s 160.

Beneath its sleek new skin essentially lurks the Mini JCW running gear, including the same 155kW/260Nm 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, with a further 20Nm available during overboost.

Once again a massive speedo mounted centrally on the dashboard dominates the latest Mini’s interior, with a tachometer mounted behind the steering wheel.

The interior receives the usual MINI treatment with a large tacho mounted behind the steering wheel and the enormous speedo mounted centrally on the dashboard. The concept’s seats and cabin are timed in two-tone brown leather, while Chronoswiss clocks (one to tell the time, the other for lap timing) are mounted either side of the tacho.

Mini design director Gert Hildebrand told Autocar that the design for the British company’s direct answer for Audi’s TT and the upcoming Peugeot RCZ was inspired by a backwards baseball cap.

“We were never asked to do a coupe,” Mr Hildebrand told Autocar. “But we follow internet blogs closely and thought people would like the idea of a car like this. It’s a pocket Porsche.

“Hopefully we can get the (production) okay before the end of the year. Everything you see is do-able for production – not cheap, but do-able.”
What’s coming from Mini:
Mini Cabrio JCW September
Mini Cooper 50 Mayfair and Camden November
Mini Crossover 2010
Mini Coupe 2011
Mini Speedster 2012

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