Sporty Superleggera roadster and fun Rocketman hatch ruled out. Boo
Mini has told TG that its line-up will stay at four cars until the next-generation car lands. Effectively, then, the axe has fallen on production versions of the sexy Superleggera sports car and the promising little Rocketman city car. Sad!
That leaves us with the hatch – in three- and five-door forms – plus the Convertible, Clubman and Countryman, with John Cooper Works versions of those to provide the range’s sportiness.
If you need a reminder, the Mini Superleggera is a two-seat electric roadster, a plug-in rival for the likes of the Mazda MX-5 and BMW Z4. Better resolved than any Mini soft-top that’s gone before it, it still looks tantalisingly production ready. It even comes with an in-built dash cam, the concept landing a couple of years before tacked-on items became all the rage.
Lose the rear fin, tack on some normal door handles, offer the Cooper’s dinky little three-cylinder petrol engine –134bhp surely enough, if the Superleggera lives up to its ‘super light’ name – and job’s a good ‘un, surely?
Apparently not. The margins in the sports car market appear too small for a company of Mini’s size, and making good profit on a niche little sports car is too difficult, an insider suggests. BMW has teamed up with Toyota for its next Z-car, don’t forget.
Such woes also stymie the Mini Rocketman’s chances of production (pic below). It seems the current three-door hatch is as small as an easy-to-sell Mini can be; anything titchier enters a similarly scaled part of the car market.
Ultimately, even a two-seat version of the Rocketman wouldn’t be usefully shorter than the current four-seat Mini hatch, and that wouldn’t suddenly morph into something you could park at right angles with the pavement.
Mini’s focus now is on plug-in vehicles, with a fully electric hatch on the way, and this Countryman Cooper S E the first of its hybrid vehicles. The Superleggera concept being electric and the Rocketman being the perfect size for an EV? Mere irrelevancies, we’re afraid.
At least for now. Here’s hoping Mini Mk4, whenever it arrives – around 2021, we’d estimate – brings a blanker canvas with it…