Open top to persuasion
IT has Union Jack-shaped taillights and uses the finest British materials, yet the newest Mini model is all about Italy.
It’s a two-seater that’s a potential rival to the Mazda MX-5 and it was shaped at Touring Superleggera to show how the Mini brand can be taken in a new direction.
The Mini Superleggera Vision was unveiled at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, where the world’s costliest classics compete for bragging rights each year.
Ironically, the up-market Mini was unveiled in the same month as a working-class Mini Ute that was created by the company’s apprentices. The big differences between the Superleggera and other Mini show cars are the drop-top layout and a two-seater cabin.
The body also has fewer ties to the production cars, which hints — as with other so-called “Vision” concepts from the BMW Group, which owns the brand — that there could be more to come on the Mini front.
The theme for the unveiling was “Modern Britishness” but there has already been a backlash in the UK from people who say BMW Group should not be imposing its German goals on the brand.
Even so, design boss Adrian van Hooydonk is talking big and says the car is “an elegant automobile, which interprets a British roadster under the influence of Italian style and hand craftsmanship”.
But there is a hidden twist under the good-looking panels — the car is electrically powered. And, even more than the Superleggera bodywork, that provides a genuine hint as to where Mini could be heading and how BMW Group intends to spin-off its battery-powered work on the i3 city car.