2011 Mini Cooper Roadster Concept Preview

FAST FACTS
  • Based on the Mini Cooper S platform
  • Two-seat roadster with a cloth convertible roof
  • Shortened overhangs, steeply angled A-pillars, shorter height
  • 175-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter engine from the Cooper S model
  • Designed for performance and driving pleasure
  • Production planned for 2011

Introduction

2011 Mini Cooper Roadster ConceptDesigned to be small and economical when it was introduced in 1959, the first Morris Mini-Minor maximized passenger and luggage space in a package just 10 feet long-it became affectionately known simply as the "Mini" worldwide. While it was undersized and rather slow (engine output was rated at just 34 hp), a light chassis with 10-inch wheels pushed to the furthest corners of the vehicle did offer one benefit-fun, go kart-like handling.

Today, BMW is the owner of the MINI brand (the automaker uses all capital letters to differentiate the new MINI from the old). Mixing updated chassis technology, modern safety advances and the original Mini's small-car formula, a brand-new 3-door hatchback Mini was launched in 2001 (as a 2002 model). The success of the new Mini Cooper justified the launch of Mini Cooper convertible and Mini Clubman (wagon) variants, and the automaker recently showed the public its model.

August 2009 marked the 50th anniversary of the Mini brand. To celebrate, BMW introduced concept versions of a new Mini Roadster and Mini Coupe. Warmly received and appearing near-ready for production, the automaker announced production plans for both concept cars at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show the following month.

For More Information
2011 Mini Cooper Roadster Concept

Design

Differentiated by its uncharacteristic swept windshield, A-pillars, low roofline and aggressive stance, the Mini Roadster is immediately recognized as a very unique Mini model. While those familiar with the current Mini lineup will instantly recognize the familiar styling below the beltline, the new Roadster features a small cloth convertible roof, ending dramatically in front of the rear trunk. Absent of the Cooper convertible's two rear seats, the trunk is now larger as the safety roll bar has been moved forward on the chassis.

Model Lineup

The Mini Roadster joins the Cooper, Clubman, Convertible and new Coupe for the 2011 model year. One of a pair of 2-seat models in the expanded lineup, the Roadster is designed to offer a sporty top-down driving experience with a standard turbocharged engine under the hood.

Hardware

The 2011 Mini Roadster shares its mechanicals with the Mini Cooper S model. Under the bodywork is a turbocharged 1.6-liter powerplant. The 4-cylinder engine is fitted with a twin-scroll turbocharger delivering 175 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft. of torque. With its basis on the Cooper S, the Roadster is likely to remain front-wheel drive and equipped with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission.

Like the Cooper S models, the Roadster's underpinnings include a front MacPherson strut, rear multi-link suspension, with sport-tuned dampers fitted at both ends and likely available with John Cooper Works handling upgrades such as a front strut tower brace.

2011 Mini Cooper Roadster Concept

Safety

Both the driver and front passenger inside the Mini Roadster are protected by dual-stage deployment "smart" frontal and seat-mounted side air bags. The roll bar has been moved forward in the Roadster-and completely redesigned as a single aluminum bar spanning the entire width of the interior. In the event of a rollover, the bar is engineered to move up electromechanically in just 150 milliseconds to provide additional head protection. In its stowed position it is designed to remain low, preserving the driver's unobstructed view out the rear of the Roadster.

Like other Mini models, dynamic stability control and traction control are standard features on the Roadster. In addition, all Roadsters are fitted with 4-wheel-disc brakes with ABS, cornering brake control, and electronic brake distribution to give the driver more control while slowing or stopping the Mini.

Technology

The Mini Roadster is fitted with a unique system of instruments designed to reinforce its "fun to drive" quotient. The "Always Open" function tells the driver how long he or she has been driving with the top down, a feature offered on the standard Mini convertible today. Features present on the Roadster concept but which may not see production are a "Nature Guard" function, telling the driver how efficiently they are driving, "Highspeed Shifter" display telling the driver how to utilize the engine for maximum power, and a "Gravity Indicator" presenting lateral g-forces and the direction of the acceleration. The "Heart Beat" setting visualizes the speed of the engine graphically (like a human heart beat): The faster the engine revs, the faster it beats. Lastly, the "Buddy Radar" shows the driver where other Mini drivers are currently out on the road (gender not included).