MINI unveils new Rocketman Concept

23 Feb 2011

MINI Rocketman (2)

MINI will showcase its new Rocketman Concept car at the Geneva Motor Show, a model which the brand says harks back to the classic Mini in terms of its exterior dimensions. Sadly, it's unlikely Elton John will be there for the official unveiling of the new 'mini' MINI but we do know that it is a 3+1 seater with three doors and an overall length of around three metres.

When the 'new' MINI was launched in 2001, many critics said it was too large to be a genuine MINI, but the Rocketman is a much smaller model, designed as a city car. Despite the compact size, MINI says the Rocketman still has a spacious interior along with wide-opening doors with double-hinge joints.

There are also integrated sills in the doors which makes getting in and out easier. Meanwhile, the lightweight seats are contoured in the usual MINI style and can be arranged in a variety of different positions. This allows owners to choose between driving with two in the front, a comfortable amount of room with three occupants, or a more 'efficient division of space' as MINI delightfully puts it, with four seats.

The boot has a two-part tailgate with one section attached to the roof, so it opens extremely high, while the lower section extends out of the body like of a drawer. In the front of the cabin, the central control unit can be taken out of the car and configured on a computer before the journey begins to update navigation destinations, the music playlist or contact details for mobile phone calls.

The size of the headlights are similar to those of the current MINI, which means they come across as very large when set against the smaller size of the Rocketman. The concept also has special weight-saving 18-inch alloy wheels which have an enclosed surface, to aid aerodynamics. There is also a carbon wing that reduces drag.

MINI Rocketman (3)

The clever doors are a key feature of the Rocketman. When opened, the doors pivot outwards complete with their sills, enabling the driver and front passenger to climb in right next to their seats which also makes getting to the rear seats easier. The front-hinged doors have a double-hinge joint, which also allows a large opening angle when space is restricted, ideal in tight car parking spaces.

The interior has some clever new features too. In addition to multifunction buttons on the steering wheel, the current MINI also has a joystick on the centre console for operating navigation, entertainment and communication functions. By contrast, the MINI Rocketman Concept has all the controls on the steering wheel.

A press of the thumb on the relevant multifunction button on the left-hand steering wheel spoke lets you control functions like the volume for the audio system. On the right-hand side is a new trackball, integrated into the steering wheel spoke. Inspired by computers, this allows the driver to control a wide range of functions.

There is no official word on whether the Rocketman Concept will ever become a production vehicle, but it's a strong hint at what a new smaller MINI (if that isn't an ironic statement) will look like.

MINI Rocketman (1)

Full coverage of the Geneva Motor Show 2011  


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