MINI ROCKETMAN: HAS 'COOL' GOT A NEW DADDY?
BMW (re-)re-invents the Mini. This time to scale...
Rocketman Concept, its fascinating new take on the premium city car segment, and (almost!), a proper-sized new Mini.
Almost, because at 3419mm nose-to-tail the Rocketman is still a few cms longer than Issigonis's 1959 original, but it would seem churlish to quibble in the face of such a bold re-interpretation of a British classic.
The Rocketman isn't just the proper size, it's properly innovative too. MINI calls the three-door machine a 3-plus-1 seater, and as well as exploring new packaging ideas it introduces carbon spaceframe technology, as per the latest innovations showcased by the new BMW 'i' brand.
Styling-wise, the classic Mini cues and proportions are obvious, but the innovations may be less so. Take the doors, for instance. The 'classic' external hinges are actually double pivots, allowing the doors to open wide in narrow spaces, while the rigid carbon spaceframe allows the doors to take the sills with as they open, further improving access. The rear door is split with a roof-hinged upper section and drawer-style lower part - designed to invoke memories of the downward-opening tailgate of the original.
Other novelties on the Rocketman concept include a trackball on the right hand steering wheel spoke for navigating control menus (which, if you're steering at the same time, sounds as though it could be like trying to aim the gun on a moving tank), and a removable control system which you can plug into your PC at home to configure for your journey ahead. (Music tracks, navigation destinations, contact phone numbers and internet links are what MINI suggests.)
*Sir Alec was cremated. We know.