MINI Coupe Inverness
Meet the sensational new MINI
Coupé! Exactly 50 years after the original Mini made its debut – on 26
August 1959 – the British firm is set to reveal its most
forward-thinking model to date.
The car will make its debut at
next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show, but Auto Express has all the images
and details on the latest homegrown hero after being allowed up close
for exclusive access to the new car.
the shape of a sporty two-seater, the MINI Coupé Concept is a vision of
things to come as it looks to compete with the Mazda MX-5 Roadster
Coupé, Audi TT and the Peugeot RC Z unveiled in last week’s issue.
Blending styling cues from the past, present and future, the new MINI’s
remit is simple; to broaden the appeal beyond the hatchback,
Convertible and Clubman.
And with its light weight and low
centre of gravity, it promises to be the most driver-oriented roadgoing
MINI ever. The familiar front end is borrowed from the four-seater
hatchback, but incorporates a number of unique touches to set it apart.
this car’s firsts are body-coloured bars inside the chrome grille
surround, plus the bonnet stripes continuing through the grille itself.
View the Coupé in profile and the differences become even more
pronounced. The front side panels are lifted straight from the current
Convertible, yet a more steeply raked windscreen sweeps overhead and
lends a dynamic feel to the design, even at a standstill.
high, gently rising waistline is nothing new for a MINI, but this show
car combines it with an ultra-slim glass area and short overhangs for a
powerful and stocky stance.
Yet it’s the ‘floating’ roof that
will provoke most debate. Using the trick of blacking out the A, B and
acutely angled C-pillars, this beautifully crafted panel appears to sit
unsupported on top of the car. But the roof serves as more than an
aesthetic component – integrated into its trailing edge is a blade-like
This helps to guide airflow over the tapered rear
window, not only to give added downforce at speed but also for greater
aerodynamic efficiency. A twin-section diffuser, exiting either side of
the trademark double exhausts, cleans up underbody airflow, and
demonstrates the car’s high-performance intentions.
is as extrovert as the exterior; slide into the cabin and the racy
theme continues. Deeply bolstered sports seats are finished in a
combination of woven leather strands and larger-stitched panels.
the dinner-plate central speedo and column-mounted rev counter, as well
most of the switchgear, are lifted directly from the hatch.
two Chronoswiss clocks on either side of the rev counter neatly link
Minis of the future with those of the past. One is a purpose-built
digital stopwatch for taking lap times, while the other shows the time
in classic analogue style.
Under the air-scooped hood is a
familiar engine – the 1.6-litre turbo from the MINI John Cooper Works.
This kicks out 208bhp and 260Nm of torque, although the latter can
climb as high as 280Nm for short bursts thanks to the overboost
function. And due to its light weight, the Coupé should display even
more devastating performance than the hatch or Convertible versions
fitted with the same motor.
That aluminium roof not only reduces
the entire weight of the car, boosting performance and efficiency, but
also lowers the centre of gravity. So despite using identical
suspension geometry to the JCW hatchback, the Coupé should corner with
more bite and less body roll.
However, MINI hasn’t forgotten a
car such as this can’t be exclusively focused on outright speed and
dynamic ability – it needs an element of practicality, too. Which is
why, with the rear seats removed, load capacity is up to a usable 250
litres – 40 litres less than in a TT. But to make the most of this
luggage area, the entire tailgate hinges at the top of the roof
spoiler, revealing a huge opening.
Officially, its maker says
the Coupé is a “fascinating vision of how the MINI model family may
continue”. But based on the cabin finish and practical,
production-ready touches that have been built into the package, the car
could be closer to the road than MINI is letting on.