New Roadster and Coupe destined to attract new buyer to MINI Brand.
by Peter D. DuPre, Editor-In-Chief
Tuesday, 15 September – 12:01 AM PST ~ For the second time in just a few weeks, BMW/MINI has stunned the Mini faithful with the introduction of the long-awaited Roadster Concept. The new model made its World Debut along side the Coupe Concept. Although, MINI did release photos and advance press information on the Coupe on the 50th Anniversary of the Mini brand, this past August 26, today’s debut marked the first time that either car has been seen in public.
To say that the two concepts stole the thunder at Frankfurt would be an understatement. Both public and press were blown away by this double introduction of two new models.
The blue coupe, with its silver/black roof and the topless, white roadster certainly wowed the crowd, which is certainly the effect MINI was trying to achieve.
Since both cars are essentially identical, with the exception of roof treatments, the dual intro made a lot of sense. It is a great way to garner automotive interest at a time when many car company’s sales are lagging, including those of BMW/MINI. Of course, MINI is officially calling these two new models concept cars, saying only that they may possibly be produced in the future.
However, it is rare, indeed, for the company to show a concept that isn’t put into production and word on the street is that the company is already preparing one of their UK plants to receive tooling. So, we may see one or both of these cars at the dealerships within 18 months or so – not an impossible date, considering that these two models can be introduced with a minimum of new tooling; they share platforms and drivetrains with MINIs currently in production.
Top Down Motoring
Until the introduction of the new Roadster this morning, top down motoring in the MINI lineup has been left strictly to the 4-seat Cabriolet model, which is a cute, if unexciting looking car. The new Roadster, on the other hand, is the convertible that MINI fans have always wanted. Like the Coupe, it is strictly a two seater, and when the top is down, it looks decidedly rakish in appearance, thanks mostly to the lowered and raked windshield, lower overall stance and shortened overhangs at the front and rear. New front and rear valances and a redesigned deck lid complete the Roadster’s sporty appearance.
Both the Roadster and the Coupe will be powered by MINI’s 175hp, 1.6 liter, turbocharged engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission (optional automatic) as used in the S models.
On the inside, the Roadster features the standard MINI instrument panel, with Openometer, slightly reworked door panels, and Recaro-type seating that seems a big improvement over the comfortable standard seating arrangements. Behind the front buckets is a storage area accessible by tipping the seat forward and the roomy cargo area is also accessible via the rear deck lid. In fact, it is the storage arrangements that delineate the Roadster from the Coupe. In the coupe, the rear deck lid, window, and airfoil are one unit and lift up as a hatch to reveal a cavernous stowage area. The Roadster, with its folding top, does not have such a big cargo area, as the folding top needs a place to stow. Still, it is more than adequate for this type of car, offering more cargo area than vehicles such as the Mazda Miata and Saturn Sky.
To read the complete factory press release and see additional photos, click here.