MINI planning sports car to rival MX-5

14 Aug, 2013 10:30am Michael Taylor

The new MINI sports car will replace slow-selling Roadster and Coupe

MINI is set to axe its slow-selling Coupe and Roadster and replace them with a more aggressive standalone sports car that will take on the popular Mazda MX-5.

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MINI has plans for an onslaught of new models over the next six years, and sources say the new sports car – which will sit on the next MINI’s front-wheel-drive architecture – will be offered as a soft-top (shown in our images) and a hard-top.

Plus, unlike the current Roadster and Coupe, the new, sleeker sports cars will share virtually no body panels with the rest of the MINI line-up. However, the 2015 MINI will retain key styling cues from the rest of the new range, including round headlights with LED rings, larger tail-lamps and muscular curves along the sides.

The newcomers are believed to be codenamed the MINI F58 (hard-top) and Mini F59 (soft-top) and are due to go on sale in late 2015 or 2016.

Engines

As with the rest of the MINI range, new 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol and diesel engines will be offered on entry-level models. However, it’s the range-topping Cooper S and JCW versions, powered by a new 2.0-litre turbo engine, that performance fans will prefer. BMW’s new modular engine family is said to be capable of producing between 40bhp and 74bhp per cylinder for the petrol engines, and between 26bhp and 60bhp for the diesels. Expect the sports car to produce around 220bhp in JCW tune.

Mechanically, the 2015 MINI sports car will be largely similar to the new MINI hatch, running on the same new UKL1 front-wheel-drive platform and with similar suspension, steering and gearboxes, although all models will be tuned to deliver sharper reactions.

The new car spells the end for the Coupe and Roadster, which were pushed into production by the BMW and MINI design departments, rather than product planning, and failed to achieve even the modest targets set for them.

Even though BMW sources say they are happy with the 15-20 per cent of the market each car has achieved in its class, those markets didn’t grow enough to sell more than 15,000 of the Roadsters and Coupés globally, and just over 2,000 a year in the UK (see panel, right).

A source told Auto Express: “If we are only going to sell 15,000 a year of a certain model, we should make more of an effort to ensure it jumps off the road as something different, but still identifiably a MINI.”

However, despite stiff competition from Alfa Romeo, BMW and Mazda, the new MX-5 rival will have to wait until more important versions of the next MINI have been rolled out before it enters production. 

These will be led by the three-door hatchback, which will debut at the LA and Tokyo Motor Shows in November with three and four-cylinder turbo engines and diesel or petrol power.

Only Cooper S, JCW and SD cars will use four-cylinder engines, though; the rest of the range will downsize to three cylinders. MINI will follow the hatch with a five-door model – expected to be the most popular car in the range – at the Paris Motor Show in September 2014.

The five-door MINI Clubman will follow that in time for the 2015 Geneva Motor Show – this time without the controversial rear-facing ‘Clubdoor’ – while the four-seat Convertible is due to be unveiled later in 2015.

There’s no date for the Paceman and Countryman replacements, although the current cars are likely to last for seven-year lifecycles – suggesting 2019 and 2017 respectively.

An MPV will also join the two SUV MINIs, with all three larger cars sitting on a stretched version of the front-wheel-drive platform.

Disqus - noscript

nichetastic... this brand is no longer cool, and the cars aren't sufficiently outstanding in their own right to stand alone.

Slow selling because there are too many mini variants don't you think? It's good to innovate but not at the expense of weakening the brand. There's a lot to be said for 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'

It is broke (at least its appearance needs updating) but attempts to mend it so far have been inept. This one looks as if Jumbo has sat on it!
Still people will continue to buy it because "it's British you know". By the same token so are Toyota, Nissan and Honda. No-one says that about them.

Looks like even Mini has had to admit that the Coupe and Roadster are failures. What took them so long? Both are as attractive as the Nissan Micra Coupe...

Oh please BMW, can we get away from this awful Pig Ugly styling? You used to style a pretty car but you have progressively made big, fat and ugly big cars and Mini has been turned into a mad house of ugly sisters! Fix it or it will not sell!!

How can it rival an MX5? It's front wheel drive for a start.

How many more Mini versions can there be?

This is AE idea of what it will look like, all they have done is stretched a normal mini convertible and squashed it down... well done AE excellent graphics...NOT!!

There's still no pickup truck.

slow selling cos they are overpriced.

The average MX-5 driving hairdresser does not know or care where the drive wheels are.

Nice to see stereotyping is around.

Oddly enough I don't know one hairdresser that owns one actually most of the latest (MK3,MK3.5 and MK3.75) I know of are all owned by males and the majority of them definitely know it is RWD.

This is nice looking.

But come on BMW lets have a Riley Sprite, Triumph Spitfire and Cooper Type 82 Equipe, versions of this design.

LOL! I think BMW reads these comments...expect to see the pickup verson late 2014.....

Correct - hairdressers don't care. We enthusiasts DO care!

"MINI planning sports car to rival MX-5"

Lets hope BMW employ someone with style.
Its certainly lacking at the moment.

David Pickles is right, these cars are slow selling simply because they're overpriced. The good news for BMW is this rendering has Triumph written all over it! Triumph, Triumph, Triumph, Triumph!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As soon as I saw "front-wheel-drive", I stopped reading about this MX-5 non-competitor.

what an ill informed moronic comment. most MX5 drivers are enthusiasts and appreciate good cars.

A mug only a Texan could love

If it looks anything like the picture at the top of the article I'd rather have an MX-5!!

Oh yes!!!
A new version of the Spitfire!!
Perhaps a 1500 Turbo?

to right the mx5 is a great small car i have had three up till now keep them coming great little car keep them coming mazda.
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With front wheel drive again it will be no match for the MX5 in terms of the all important driving pleasure aspect.

Making it in soft-top and hardtop versions? So that means a new roadster and coupe then...

I don't think that Mazda will need to worry too much. The Mini in any post-BL form is just about the ugliest car about.

It is obviously aimed at hairdressers and wananbes ;)

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