2011 Geneva Motor Show Preview: MINI Rocketman Concept

Article by Christian Andrei, on February 23, 2011

As expected, MINI unveiled today ahead of the 2011 Geneva Motor Show the all-new Rocketman Concept, a 3+1-seater with 3 doors and a length of just over 3 metres which promises to be the perfect choice for the mobile lifestyles in the big cities of the future.

The car us powered by a new drive system which combines further enhanced sprinting ability with average fuel consumption of just three litres per 100 kilometres (94 mpg imp).

Regarding the design the new car looks like a smaller MINI and features wide-opening doors with double-hinge joints and integrated sills.

According to the manufacturer, the new MINI Rocketman Concept measures 3.419 metres (approx. 11 ft. 3 in.) in length, adding just a few extra centimetres to the front and rear of the brand’s founding father born in 1959.

The concept is 1.907 metres (approx. 6 ft. 3 in.) wide and has a height of 1.398 metres (approx. 4 ft. 7 in). The design is completed by the large 18-inch wheels specially developed for the Rocketman Concept.

Inside, the concept features an arrangement of the seats and control elements that ensures maximum versatility for the widest possible range of mobility needs.

Looking at the body of the MINI Rocketman Concept, it is clear that it was designed through a modern interpretation of the brand’s traditional features. The classic Mini for example follows the principle of providing the largest possible room but using the smallest of footprints. Due to some inventive construction methods, the brand was able to implement this notion in order to solve the mobility challenges faced by many urban drivers, especially for the 21st century.

In terms of dimension, the MINI Rocketman Concept is 3.419 meters, around 11 feet and 3 inches long, as a result of adding a few centimeters to the front and rear portion of the original 1959 version. With the exterior mirrors, the width measures 1.907 meters, or about 6 feet and 3 inches. Height meanwhile is at 1.398 meters, which is approximately 4 feet and 7 inches. With these proportions, it is clear that the present line-up, like that of the classic Mini, shows clear symmetries.

Thus while the all too familiar look has been put into new dimensions, the concept for this new vehicle segment continues to be recognizable as a MINI. This particular interpretation of the MINI design language was implemented for this study car, considering that it conveys a dynamic and powerful appeal. Helping the Rocketman Concept show a solid structure are the large wheels, the basic form shaped by the straight lines, and the contoured surfaces.

Aside from the revealing proportions, there are also a number of unique design features that guarantee this vehicle is indeed a MINI. Dominating the front part of the vehicle are the circular headlights and the radiator grille that has the chrome surround. The exterior contours of its headlights manage to fit with the well-known visual template. Meanwhile for this vehicle, the inner structure was improved even further.

Its LED units have been placed in a central position and create a full beam which is then enclosed by the striking light ring for dipped-beam mode. Furthermore, the headlight units have direction indicators incorporated with them, a characteristic the Rocketman Concept has that is similar to the other series-produced MINI models. Since the dimensions of the headlights echo that of the current MINI, they have a larger appearance especially put against the face of the MINI Rocketman Concept, which is smaller.

These are considered as the features of the MINI design that stick out as they represent principal values of the brand. Just around the radiator grille and the front apron, as well as the area that surrounds its headlights, there are sections where the carbon spaceframe can be seen together with the chromed and painted surfaces. Reminiscent of the groundbreaking construction blueprint of the study is the outstanding surface structure.

The roof resting of the MINI Rocketman Concept, as well as the "wraparound" greenhouse, large wheels, and the body’s three-level structural split, combine to give the sides a look that is similar to MINI models that are presently in series production. As the windows extend to the rear part of the vehicle, it narrows and thus highlights the dynamic wedge shape. It also provides clues to the agile and sporty character.

The MINI Rocketman Concept has a high waistline which holds the form of a light strip. This is underscored by the chrome frame that surrounds the entire vehicle and puts more attention to the powerful profile of the study. With its 18-inch wheels, it is clear that the sporty handling and the sure-footed road-holding properties that the MINI possesses remain to have a significant role to play, especially in a vehicle that has smaller dimensions. In fact, these same wheels help save weight and were made specifically for the MINI Rocketman Concept. It has an enclosed and aerodynamically effective surface structure.

By putting in an aluminum trim strip to the wheel rim, it results to that added attractive stylistic touch. While the MINI Rocketman Concept has a number of advanced related to functionality, and even important design innovations, its two side doors stand out. In addition to their length, the arrangement of the door sills have been specifically designed to ensure that there is comfortable access to all of the seats inside.

This is because when the doors are opened, the door and the sills pivot outwards. As a result, this allows the driver and the passenger in the front a way to get to their seats and settle comfortably. This uncommon door concept also makes entering the rear seats easier. By utilizing a carbon spaceframe construction and when put together with an underbody structure with a high torsional stiffness, the side sills are arranged in a way that it can be combined with high body rigidity.

With a state-of-the-art opening mechanism, easy access inside is guaranteed even if the vehicle is in a tight parking space. This is because while the doors are already front-hinged, they in fact have a double-hinge joint. What this means is that it offers a large opening angle, an important aspect especially in cases when the space has been restricted.

The novel character of this particular construction element can also be observed even if its doors are closed. Its carbon hinges manage to stand out both in form and color from the body. Without a doubt, the MINI Rocketman Concept uses styling cues based on the classic Mini.

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