Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Officially Official: Happy 50th - MINI Coupé Concept

Rumors have been swirling for months about what BMW would do on August 26, 2009 for its Mini brand. After all, that is the fiftieth anniversary of the public debut of Alec Issigonis' original Mini. With most of the speculation revolving around either a coupe or some kind of cropped windshield speedster, it turns out the reality was somewhere in between. Unlike the original coupe of the Sixties that simply had a fastback replacement for the standard square-back roof, the new MINI Coupé Concept completely replaces everything from the beltline up. The upright windshield that has been part of the Mini look from day one is finally swept back and a truncated roof covers the remaining two seats.

All pretenses of being a four seater has finally been dispensed with for the new coupe. The shape of the roof indicates that should Mini move ahead with production, and it could easily be replaced by a folding fabric unit to create the anticipated speedster model. What's more, dumping the rear seats means Mini could theoretically add a hefty brace back there restoring some of the structural integrity lost in the standard convertible, or perhaps restore some cargo room as compared to the Cabrio. At this point, it's unknown if those B-pillars are are tinted glass or just big solid blind spots, but visually, the lower half of the car remains pretty standard R56 John Cooper Works.

Although we don't have images of the interior yet, it sounds like it's largely standard Mini, although there are two clocks hanging off the sides of the steering column mounted tachometer much like the so-called Openometer in the convertible. One tells time while the other is a stopwatch for recording laps. The MINI Coupé Concept will be shown publicly at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month alongside the production version of the new Crossover.