Mini’s mission to make a properly tiny model that harks to the original more authentically is hampered by snags, the company says, meaning the feted Mini Rocketman concept remains just that, a concept.
As we reported earlier this week, Mini head of design Anders Warming told UK publication Auto Express an even smaller Mini model made sense for the brand, though admitted “at the moment, we don’t have the right tech solutions, but we are working on it”. Now we have an update from the company.
These issues are specifically down to the brand’s UKL modular architecture, set to underpin up to 12 BMW and 10 Mini models over the coming years. That architecture cannot house any car shorter than 3.8 metres — the length of the Mini Hatch, and too long for a road-ready Rocketman.
The concept Rocketman measured 3.4m.
There are also concerns that any move to platform share externally, say through a potential expansion of BMW’s tie-up with Toyota, would numb the car’s ‘Mini-ness’, and that developing a new stand-alone platform would be unviable financially.
In other words, according to Mini head of communications Andreas Lampka while speaking with CarAdvice this week, the idea of a Rocketman is very appealing, but purists shouldn’t hold their breath.
“Yes it could be built… (but) at what price?’ Lampka said. “If you compared the price of a three-door Mini to something a bit smaller, you’d be looking at an ambitious price-tag.”
“[Also] the platform would be too big,” he said, before adding that any joint-venture is off the table completely, and the notion of sharing the Rocketman’s imaginary underpinnings with some future tiny BMW was also deemed unfeasible. “Probably not,” he said.
“Mini is about being Mini and if you were to rebadge a car it would never work. If we were to take a platform not made by us but with our DNA it would not work,”
Nevertheless, Lampka acknowledged to desire out there in the market for a Mini that shifted back towards the original car’s diminutive 3.1-metre dimensions, though added getting such a car around modern requirements within an acceptable cost framework would be a rough ask.
“I drive a classic Mini… it starts there, and your colleagues ask for a ride, and they say “oh my God, its so cute’. But then they say, ‘I don’t want to go in there', because it’s not practical nowadays, and all the safety requirements, especially those in Europe, mean a car that size would not be feasible.
“Everybody loves a classic Mini, everybody would probably want to buy a classic Mini, but could you program that car?”
It seems the answer is some time away from being yes. In the meantime, arch BMW rival Mercedes-Benz will make hay in Europe with its Smart car, developed in tandem with Renault, while Mini will look at ways to put the UKL under new spinoffs larger than the base Hatch.