MINI has unveiled the Superleggera Vision at this year’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on the shores of Lake Como. This sports car concept was produced in conjunction with Italian coachbuilders, Touring Superleggera, and adds weight to our exclusive story that MINI is planning to ditch the Coupe and Roadster models in favour of a sports car with unique styling.
The Superleggera clearly features a design inspired by the latest MINI hatch, including the LED-ringed headlights, gaping grille and short overhangs. Even the bonnet stripes are present and accounted for – though here they’re subtly embossed in to the metal, flowing in to polished aluminium on the nose.
But there are plenty of sports car flourishes to distinguish this as a model that’s separate from the rest of the MINI line-up, such as the raked windscreen, the low-slung body and the flowing ‘Touring’ line that runs from ahead of the front wheels all the way to the rears. The body was handcrafted from sheets of aluminium by stylists at Touring Superleggera, allowing for crisp lines that MINI says would be virtually impossible using machines.
At the rear, the elegant fin is a sports car throwback, while the Union Jack-inspired rear lights have the air of classic MINI quirkiness about them. Despite the retro styling cues the side sills and rear diffuser are built from the same hi-tech carbon fibre-reinforced plastic used in BMW’s all-electric and hybrid i3 and i8 models.
There’s a definite link to those futuristic BMWs, too, thanks to the Superleggera’s all-electric powertrain. MINI has already experimented with battery power, in the MINI E prototype and its return in this concept reveals it’s still on the table for future models. The UKL1 platform that will underpin all members of the MINI family can definitely take plug-in hybrid technology and MINI believes that all-electric tech is also a great fit for the brand.
MINI bosses have previously told Auto Express that there are between eight and ten potential members of the MINI family. That’s the three and five-door hatches, the Convertible, the two SUVs and the Clubman plus up to four more. The sports car – available as a soft-top and a hardtop – is expected to account for two of them as it replaces the slow-selling Coupe and Roadster models. A MINI insider 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.”
As for what will complete the rest of the MINI line-up, a saloon for China is possible along with a practical MPV-style model.
We’re expecting the new sports car to be introduced in late 2015, where it will be looking to take on models like the new Mazda MX-5. Engines will be borrowed from the standard MINI line-up, with the 189bhp 2.0-litre turbo from the Cooper S almost certain to feature. Three-cylinder petrols and diesels could also be offered, along with a flagship JCW variant boasting around 220bhp.
Is this the sort of car that MINI should put into production? Tell us whether you like the MINI Superleggera Vision or not in the comments section below...