Smaller Mini Based on Rocketman Coming with Electric Powertrain

In a penitent offering to fans of the original Mini, who were horrified by the Countryman SUV, Mini is developing a sub-Cooper sized city car based on the Rocketman concept. The new car is Mini’s attempt to keep purists happy and meet government regulations with the tightening emissions standards and ever-changing fuel prices.

The new ‘mini’ Mini will be based on the Rocketman concept first seen at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. The new car is closer in size – yet still larger – to the original Minis than the current Cooper. Measuring at just under 16 inches longer and 20 inches wider than the original Mini, the Rocketman concept is about 11 inches shorter and half-an-inch narrower than the current Mini Cooper.

And like the original Mini’s clever use of space efficiency, the Rocketman has an unconventional design too; this time around it uses a 3+1 seating arrangement (similar to the Toyota/Scion iQ). The seat behind the driver is more of a jump seat that would be best suited for short trips or short people –- err children. Another innovative feature is the instrument cluster which can move forwards and backwards with the steering wheel to increase room and comfort.

The new Rocketman-inspired Mini will also use smaller engines consisting of inline three cylinder gas and diesel engines. No word yet on whether the diesel will make it to the U.S. but there is some hope: parent company BMW sells its 3.0L I-6 twin-turbo diesel engine on our shores. Also in the works will be an all electric ‘mini’ Mini similar to BMW’s electric i3 city car.

“MINI will never produce a car under the ‘i’ brand – this is exclusively for BMWs – but the technology we are developing for the ‘i’ family of cars will certainly be made available for the rest of the BMW Group,” BMW sales and marketing director Ian Robertson told Auto Express.

The i3 uses a carbon fiber passenger cell mounted to an aluminum chassis which helps reduce weight. The cars may share chassis but expect the BMW to be rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive and the Mini to retain front-engine, front-wheel-drive and its go-kart handling.

Although the car will be toned down for production (losing its three-dimensional taillights and Union Jack glass roof) it is expected to retain the use of some of the concept car’s features such as lightweight materials, like the exposed carbon fiber pieces on the front fenders and grille. Another show piece expected to make it to production is the cargo area accessible by either a conventional hatch or a drawer below the belt-line.

Expect the ‘mini’ Mini to go on sale after the Coupe and Roadster’s 2012 debut -– probably in 2014 when the next-generation Cooper is also due.

Source: Auto Express

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