The MINI RocketMan concept is likely to make production, claims AutoExpress. But we disagree with what the tabloid claims will underpin the new city car.
AutoExpress went to press recently saying the production version of the RocketMan will be based on the same structure as BMW’s forthcoming i3 EV city car — but that car will cost more than the current MINI due to the high-tech aluminium and carbon fibre construction needed to offset the weight of the electric car’s batteries. Such expense wouldn’t work in a model that the iconic British brand is pitching below today’s MINI and at rivals like the Toyota iQ and Smart ForTwo.
No, much more likely is that the new small car will share underpinnings with its larger brother, due for replacement in 2014, around the same time that the city car has been mooted for launch. Expect the production RocketMan to receive a cut-down version of the same structure used for the full-size MINI.
It’s believed the two MINI models will share engines too, likely to be based on BMW’s new three-cylinder units which will be available as both petrol and diesel and in various states of tune. But here’s something — all BMW engines of the future are suggested to be based around a common 500cc cylinder capacity, meaning that BMW 2.0 litre engines will be four cylinder, 3.0 litre six cylinder and so on. The current MINI’s replacement is likely to get a 1.5 litre three cylinder, but that would seem large for a city car. Who’d bet on a one litre twin cylinder now that Fiat has launched the 500 TwinAir and received critical acclaim for what is currently the lowest CO2 producing petrol engined car in the world? If it happens with the mini MINI, expect sub-90g/km levels of emissions.
Unlikely to make production is the glass-like transparent roof with etched Union Flag, but the Toyota iQ aping 3+1 seating most likely will, as might the split tail-gate, with conventionally opening top half and drawer-like bottom half. Expect the overall dimensions to remain the same as the concept also, pitching the car in at around 40cm larger than Issigonis’s original 1959 Mini, a car that remained in production until 2000.
Then there’s the name. The RocketMan moniker will likely get dropped, but to be replaced with what? Well, given BMW’s love of trawling the history books for variant names (Clubman and Countryman have been seen on both the original Mini and new MINI), how about MINI Minor — the name originally used on the Morris version of the 1959 car?