Some of you might remember Mini’s Superleggera Vision concept from last year. I know I do as that was the first article I wrote for Auto Clique NZ. Anyway, that stunning roadster concept has just been given the green light for production and could be in Mini showroom by 2018. That maybe be a few years away but it’s never too early to be excited for the return of the small, British roadster.
Clearly BMW and Mini have their sights set on the new Mazda MX-5 and its upcoming Fiat counterpart. Mini have said the production version of the Superleggera will carry on the same basic principles of the concept. However some design features may not remain due to regulations and such. Still, it’ll definitely be a looker. How could it not be with such a great starting point. I’m picturing one in British Racing Green, like a mini-Jag E-Type.
It’ll sit on the same front-wheel drive platform used by the new Mini 3-door and 5-door, as well as future Cabrio and Clubman variants. It should be expected to use the same engines and transmissions too. So a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol, a 2.0-litre turbo four, and a 1.5 turbo diesel with either 6-speed manual or a 6-speed auto.
In essence, the Superleggera Vision will replace both the Coupe and Roadster in Mini’s lineup. It’s not certain at this stage whether or not the coachbuilder, Superleggera Touring, who were involved in the concept car will have a part in the production version. It might be wishful thinking to expect so.
Then there’s the question of the name. Sure calling it the ‘Roadster’ will do the trick but let’s not forget BMW Group also owns the rights to Triumph. That brand so well known for their small British roadsters. How does a Mini Stag or Mini TR Roadster sound? That could be something I can be excited about. But does a front-wheel drive British roadster bring back memories (for better or for worse) of the 1990s Lotus Elan? Perhaps the MX-5 is still the best interpretation of a modern British roadster? Bring on 2018!