Saturday, 24 May 2014

MINI Superleggera Concept Has The Wrong Brand On It

Of course, all irritating things have hashtags now, too...
Hey everyone, it's that time again!! You'll find on this blog that any posts about the 21st-century MINI are angry rants about the cars they're making. Quite honestly, I keep thinking that they can't bother me anymore, that at this point trying to convince BMW to finally make a genuine successor to the original car is a lost cause and I should just get over it. But no, they keep pushing their empty-hearted marketing experiments further and further, and now we have this concept car for a small electric roadster.

First of all, I'm going to show you some pictures of it, because this new MINI (they always use all-caps, probably to highlight that their MINIs are bigger than a real Mini) is irritating in a different way to the Paceman or whatever:

Most of the cars that MINI shills these days are actually quite ugly and bloated-looking. In fact, with the dawn of the new hatchback, all of them are. But this? This looks fantastic. From the front wheels back, there is not a single thing I would think to change other than the patronising Union Flag tail lights, and even they are well-executed. That's because this car wasn't designed by BMW. It was designed by Italian coachbuilders Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera, the same people who gave us the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante (both the 1952 original and the 2012/3 remake seen on TopGear). Oh, and the Aston Martin DB5. And the Jensen Interceptor. And a few other sharp Italian suits for other car makers over the years that rank among the best. Whether it's the great proportions, the awesome tail fin that references Cooper F1 cars of the early '60s, surfacing that's clean but not boring, or the modern, minimalist interior, this car is a very well-judged and well-executed design, and executing that design mostly meant hand-beating sheets of aluminium with hammers, just like in the good ol' days.

However, aside from putting British patriotism on a German car with an Italian body in the shape of those tail lights, I feel a grave error has been made: This car shouldn't be a MINI at all.

I'm not saying it shouldn't have been made, because the world needs more attractive small roadsters with Italian bodies, and as I've said, everything from the front wheels back is brilliant. But it's got completely the wrong badge on it! Imagine if this was a new Fiat Barchetta, with different headlights that didn't make it look like a scared fish and a slightly reshaped grille. I can dig the rally lights, but I could do without the indentations between the headlights that are meant to look like Cooper bonnet stripes. BMW aren't giving us any tech specs as this is really just an attention-grabber for motor shows, but apparently a single electric motor is involved, most likely powering the front wheels. With a Fiat nose and an Abarth 500 engine (complete with LSD) this would be an awesome MX-5 rival. Or perhaps this body could have an Alfa Romeo grille on the front and be married to the chassis of their upcoming version of the next-generation MX-5, to become the new Spider (that's still a thing, by the way). Then you'd get rear-wheel-drive. Hell, keep the patriotic tail lights on and bring back the 1990s Lotus Elan! There are so many cool and enticing things that this car could be, but as a MINI? It just looks like a great design that's been misplaced, and yet another new model (potentially) that strays even further from those four capital letters sat inside that winged badge.

It's just another example of BMW flagrantly ignoring the very name of the brand they're exploiting as much as possible. As a result, this car just makes me sad. Considering they way it looks, it shouldn't, and that just makes things even worse.

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