When the new MINI Cooper debuted back in 2001, it was impossible not to note how much larger the car was than its classic predecessor. The less-than-mini size of the vehicle is even more obvious in Europe, where the majority of cars on the road share roughly the same dimensions. It comes as little surprise then that the brand famous for thinking small is preparing to unveil a new more-mini MINI at the Geneva Auto Show next week.
Called the Rocketman concept, this isn't a production car and it's easy to see why, with a state-of-the-art carbon fiber spaceframe that allows it to be incredibly light - although oddly enough, MINI isn't listing any figures relating to its weight.
Powered by what is rumored to be a turbocharged diesel 3-cylinder, the Rocketman is capable of 94-mpg. That's imperial mpg's however, with a U.S. number closer to the 78-mpg mark.
Size wise, its 11-feet 3-inches long, which just over a foot shorter in length than the current Cooper hardtop. For added perspective, the Smart fortwo is nearly 9-feet in length.
Inside there's seating for 3+1 (similar to Toyota's iQ) with three seats for adults and an occasional use seat for a child. Getting into and out of the car is made easy thanks to innovative doors that have double hinges, allowing them to open extra wide when there's room or to almost slide open when in tighter spots. Improved ease of access is also possible as when the doors open there is no sidesill to step over. Instead the bottom of the car moves with the door, as the carbon frame means rocker panels no longer have to be structural elements.
In terms of styling, it's always hard to tell how close a MINI concept is to production. Most automakers get pretty wild with their concepts, but MINI's designers are too concerned with crafting the car to look like a MINI to be overly creative. There are, however, a few unique elements, like the 18-inch carbon fiber wheels designed with aerodynamics in mid. And let's not forget the glass Union Jack roof.
Inside, it's typical MINI too, with a large center speedo (oh how we loathe you) that has a 3D display, and a futuristic look at MINI Connected with a joystick on the center console and steering wheel mounted controls to help you stay more connected.
MINI says the Rocketman concept is a look at a possible future model, taking into account the brand's core values, which include premium trim, a creative use of space and a dynamic driving experience.
Will MINI bring the Rocketman to market? Possibly, however, it's not likely to make it across the Atlantic. In a recent interview with AutoGuide, MINI U.S.A. boss Jim McDowell said he didn't foresee any smaller or larger MINIs in North America.