We’ve had the odd whiff that MINI is planning to introduce a production version based off its Superleggera concept that it showcase at the 2014 Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance, but recently new information has emerged.
From the overwhelming response to the concept, MINI’s future roadster is earmarked for the company’s flagship tier, according to a report by Autocar. When it does hit the road possibly in 2019, however, it will face off as a direct rival to the venerable Mazda MX-5. Looks like we’ve got a proper sports car in the pipeline.
Mini boss Peter Schwarzenbauer said, “The interest was tremendous when we showed this concept car. We are now working hard to get it on the street. It’s an economically challenging project and there is no firm decision, but we have a lot of people here that are fighting for it. I think it would be extremely good for the brand.”
The report also mentions the Superleggera to form part of a future five-pillar line-up, and to utilize petrol-electric power plants. Forming the base for the new roadster is the short-wheelbase UKL platform courtesy of BMW, MINI’s parent company, for its low weight and rigid structure.
Perhaps the technology exchange will include some of the DNA of BMW’s i8 as well as Schwarzenbauer also added: The Superleggera is a serious sports car,”
“The system is quite similar, although it has been turned 180deg to site the combustion engine at the front and the electric motor at the rear. It also provides the scope for on-demand four-wheel drive and electric drive up to 50mph.”
He was referring to a similar petrol-electric set up seen in the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. However, the second-generation Countryman will be the first car in MINI’s stable to inherit such a system. Should that materialize, the reported optional four-wheel drive version of the roadster will be available in the highest spec with 216hp.
Interestingly, it will be offered primarily as a front-wheel drive car, in contrast to the rear-driven prospective competitor, the Mazda MX-5.
Speaking of engines, power will likely come from a range of three-cylinder and four-cylinder petrol or diesel units ranging from 1.5 to 2.0-litres, with the most powerful John Cooper Works variant possibly cranking out 227hp.
MINI is also expected to leave the Superleggera concept’s Touring coach built exterior design cues as intact as possible, including the more muscular shoulders and tapering rear end, with a wide stance and minimal rear overhang.