Old Mini’s new look

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - Paul Gover

THIS Mini is more than just a car. It’s also a unique birth­day present and the ic­ing on the cake for the 50th an­niver­sary of the orig­i­nal Mini, which was born in Bri­tain in 1959.

It could also be­come the next ad­di­tion to the Mini lineup, al­though noth­ing is con­firmed yet and the car will not be seen for the first time un­til the Frankfurt Mo­tor Show next month.

The two-seat Mini Con­cept Coupe is all new but, like ev­ery Mini model since BMW Group brought the car back from the dead, has a solid link to the past. In this case it’s to a car called the Broad­speed Mini, which was a cut-down racer with a low roofline and a bunch of go-fast gear de­vel­oped by Bri­tish tuner Ralph Broad.

The orig­i­nal Broad­speed GT Coupe was built in lim­ited num­bers in the 1960s as a road car, based on a Mini Cooper S.

It’s a sim­i­lar story with the Con­cept Coupe, which picks up the me­chan­i­cal pack­age from the reg­u­lar Mini but wraps it in a cut-down coupe body with a much dif­fer­ent look to the roof and tail.

‘‘As yet, we don’t know a hell of a lot about this car. We’re cer­tainly de­lighted with it, though,’’ says Justin Ho­ce­var, head of Mini in Aus­tralia.

‘‘It’s a po­ten­tial ad­di­tion to the range but, as you know, it’s just a con­cept to mea­sure the re­ac­tion from the pub­lic. The Mini brand has of­ten ex­plored al­ter­na­tive mod­els this way.’’

Mini be­gan the Club­man push with a string of mo­tor show con­cept cars and the Con­cept Coupe could go the same way.

The Frankfurt car is a gen­uine run­ner that uses the 155kW turbo en­gine from the Mini John Cooper Works, as well as its tweaked chas­sis. The body has been sub­stan­tially tweaked, from the laid-back wind­screen and A-pil­lars to a new roof and a low-line tail with far more ta­per than the boxy four-seater. Pre­dictably, there is a spoiler set into the rear end.

Mini says lug­gage space is greater in the Con­cept Coupe be­cause it takes up space from what is nor­mally the back seat, with a lift-up tail­gate.

Ho­ce­var says there is no firm plan for the car be­yond the Frankfurt show ap­pear­ance but he is hope­ful it could even­tu­ally be pro­duc­tionised to join the Mini sedan, Cabrio and Club­man.

‘‘A lot of the Mini con­cepts have seen the light of day in some vari­a­tion.

‘‘They ob­vi­ously have been tuned and tweaked and moulded for fi­nal pro­duc­tion and this could go the same way even­tu­ally,’’ he says.

GROOVY:

Con­cept Coupe has the me­chan­i­cal pack­age of a reg­u­lar Mini but wraps it in a cut-down coupe body.

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