On August 26, Mini celebrated their 50th anniversary by releasing details of their new Mini Coupe Concept, which will make its official debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Rumors have been circulating for some time that the BMW-owned Mini would be expanding their lineup beyond the traditional Cooper and slightly larger Clubman, and this Coupe is a welcome addition.
Mini has had a winning formula with the Mini Cooper and they didn’t see much reason to mess with it, so the Coupe is essentially a modified version of the high-performance John Cooper Works edition Cooper. Under the hood is a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that pumps out 211 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque. Considering that the vehicle will weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 2500 pounds, that will make the Coupe pretty quick.
Also, the Coupe retains the petite dimensions of the Cooper, so handling will likely remain as nimble and go-kart-like as the current crop of Coopers. While Minis don’t traditionally get a lot of respect from auto enthusiasts, they are genuinely fun to drive. Plus, the car chase scene from The Bourn Identity pretty much sealed their place in history.
Definitely the most appealing aspect of the Mini Coupe is the interior. As stated before, the Coupe is based off the Cooper’s frame, but it has done away with the back seat. Honestly, the back seat was mostly for show in the Cooper (unless you had young children who could fit back there), so it is good to see it finally be taken out for this model. However, the Cooper’s front seats did prove surprisingly roomy, so the seats in the Coupe will probably be pretty comfortable. And of course, as you can see from the photo, the interior is decked out in the large amount of geometric shapes, and the huge, center-mounted speedometer, of the Cooper.
The main cause for concern with the Mini Coupe is the exterior styling. The rear roof spoiler seems a bit over the top, and a small spoiler mounted at the bottom of the rear window would probably look a lot more innocuous. Perhaps as a result of this spoiler, the roof itself just looks out of place. The downswell of the roofline after the front door stops your eye from sweeping back, which reinforces the short length of this car. The big plus side on the Coupe’s styling is the windshield, which is swept back and is a welcome change from the vertical windshield of the Cooper. Everything below the windshield and roof is essentially the same as a Mini Cooper.
The Mini Coupe is one of those cars that genuinely leaves me divided. On the one hand, Minis are insanely fun to drive, and the prospect of that turbo four-cylinder in a small car (which is minus the weight of a backseat) can’t go wrong. On the other hand, the exterior styling just seems off. Not bad, not good, just off. It will probably appeal to some people and turn others off completely. Maybe if you just keep your eyes closed until you’re inside of it, then you’ll fall in love with the Mini Coupe.