17 Sep 09 17:16
IAA - Frankfurt, 63rd International Motor Show 2009
John K Lindgren
MINI at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show
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50 Years - Still going' strong. Track record: 6.8 million cars built.
The 50th anniversary of the brand clearly leaves a powerful stamp on MINI’s appearance at the 2009 German, Frankfurt Motor Show.
Visitors to the world’s No 1 car show experienced a journey through time beginning with the first appearance of the classic Mini back in 1959 and still far from coming to an end with the outstanding success of the current MINI model range.
Celebrating the world debut of the MINI Coupé Concept and the MINI Roadster Concept, MINI is presenting no less than two spectacular visions of driving pleasure in the sixth decade of the brand at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. Both concepts offer a unique interpretation of the traditional values, the individual style and the innovative character of MINI, each in its own way. Both concept cars stand for concentrated driving pleasure in an extremely sporting Coupé, on the one hand, and in a Roadster both pure and elegant for extravagant open-air motoring, on the other.
The Oxford Twins
Celebrating their world debuts at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, the MINI Coupé Concept and the MINI Roadster Concept are making a clear statement together as the Oxford Twins.
This special characterisation of the two new models obviously refers to the production plant of the current MINI in Great Britain where, at MINI Plant Oxford with more than 1.5 million units of the only premium model in the small car segment have been built since production started in 2001.
The MINI Coupé Concept and the MINI Roadster Concept are based on a platform specially conceived for integrated production at MINI Plant Oxford.
MINI Coupé Concept: a vision of concentrated driving pleasure.
The MINI Coupé Concept brings together a wide range of features for a truly sporting and ambitious style of motoring.
Intentionally limiting the passenger compartment to two seats and focusing on consistent lightweight construction, the very concept of this unique car specifically addresses the demands made of a particularly dynamic and active coupé.
At the same time the low roofline, a precisely defined spoiler at the rear, and further aerodynamically optimised features all serve to improve both the performance and the efficiency of the car. Both in its design and in the opportunities to use a truly powerful engine, the MINI Coupé Concept sets the ideal foundation for a compact sports car in the premium segment.
This two-seater study is conceived from the start also for the most powerful engine currently available in a MINI: Featuring the 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbocharged engine carried over from the MINI John Cooper Works, the concept car is able to offer supreme performance in every respect. This four-cylinder delivers maximum output of 211 hp and peak torque of 260 Newton-metres increasing briefly under Overboost to an even more significant 280 Newton-metres.
Exterior design: typical MINI look with individual character.
In its body design, the MINI Coupé Concept spans the entire range from the beginnings of the MINI’s history far into the future of the brand, highlighting both the unique looks of the concept and its membership in the MINI family. Through its individual and emotional design language alone, the MINI Coupé Concept also promises a impressive driving experience.
This unique two-seater measures 3,714 mm in length and 1,683 mm.
Through these dimensions and its athletic proportions alone, the MINI Coupé Concept at very first sight stands out as a truly compact and powerful performer for all occasions.
The unmistakable look of the front end comes straight from the four-seater MINI, well-balanced contours with large radii on the engine compartment lid, the large headlights, the homogeneous sweep of the radiator grille and the extra-wide air scoop at the bottom offering the mimicry typical of every MINI model, full of openness and sporting appeal.
Through its lower and even more streamlined windscreen, the MINI Coupé Concept shows its striking character and unique look from the very beginning also from this perspective.
The well-known look of these design features forms a stylish contrast to the far lower rake of the A-pillar leading into a completely different and very innovative roofline. The MINI Coupé Concept features a low and dynamic windscreen merging softly and gently into the roof, while at the rear the roofline initially moving back above the heads of the driver and passenger in a straight line tapers out into a sturdy and muscular C-pillar.
Throughout the entire car, the roof contours show an unmistakable bridge design feature to be admired for the first time on a MINI, made up of a stable cornerstone formed by the C-pillars and the more filigree structure above the passenger cell. At the same time the side view of the MINI Coupé Concept shows a clear-cut wedge shape as if the car were constantly pushing ahead with all its muscle and power.
The rear-end design of the MINI Coupé Concept seeks to optimise the flow of air essential in terms of both driving dynamics and the efficiency of this unique two-seater. The rear spoiler with its wing profile fitted at the same level as the C-pillars makes a particularly significant contribution to the smooth flow of air at the rear of the MINI Coupé Concept.
The rear window of this two-seater elegantly tapering out to the bottom of the car merges in typical coupé style into a short and low rear end with just a hint of a notchback.
A further highlight is the special construction of the tailgate on the MINI Coupé Concept. Intentionally doing without a rear seat bench, the body of this two-seater obviously offers additional space for all kinds of luggage. Luggage capacity, therefore, is no less than 250 litres.
The color scheme and the choice of materials within the MINI Coupé Concept clearly symbolise the classic sportiness and unique character of the car. Like the instrument panel, the roof lining of this unique two-seater comes in black providing a calm ambience and helping the driver to concentrate on the actual driving experience.
MINI Roadster Concept: fresh ideas for an intense driving experience.
Presenting the MINI Roadster Concept, the brand once again sets a new trend for individual mobility. This is where a purist character, elegant design and fascinating driving qualities come together in the vision of an open two-seater meeting the demands of a modern and self-confident target group. Individual style, premium quality and exactly the right balance of driving pleasure and efficiency in our modern day and age give the MINI Roadster Concept its special character, the design of the car clearly reflecting this focus on maximum driving pleasure with nothing but the sky above.
Spontaneous pleasure – the domain of the MINI Roadster Concept.
The MINI Roadster Concept offers ideal conditions for an emotional experience also on short trips, at the same time urging the connoisseur and aficionado to escape the usual congestion of city traffic.
With its intentional restriction to two seats and lightweight construction, the car from the start expresses its focus on uncompromising agility. Its stylish looks and high-class interior ambience, in turn, give this very special two-seater truly exclusive character.
Exterior design: unique proportions, expression typical of MINI.
The body design of the MINI Roadster Concept visualises the identity of the brand and its innovative power in a truly fascinating combination. The integrating factor throughout is the design language so typical of MINI, determining both the elements characteristic of the brand and the car’s innovative features. This new two-seater measures 3,714 mm in length and 1,683 mm. The height of the car is 1,356 millimetres.
Again in typical MINI style, the MINI Roadster Concept comes with extra-short body overhangs front and rear emphasising the athletic stature of the car.
The front section including the large headlights and the hexagon radiator grille is the same as on the MINI Cooper S up to the A-pillars. The entire front air dam, in turn, has been adjusted to the sporting look of the car and appears to be even wider and more striking than before.
The typical roadster character of the concept car comes out clearly when both open and closed, the waistline rising up slightly towards the rear in a linear perspective also maintained with the roof open.
The pure and open character of the car is of course most obvious and appealing with the roof down. Folding down in a compact configuration, the roof leads on to a short luggage compartment lid housing the luggage compartment separated from the passenger compartment.
With the roof closed, on the other hand, the MINI Roadster stands out clearly from the MINI Convertible through its notchback contour. The soft top opens and closes manually in a process performed very quickly and with utmost ease thanks to the compact dimensions of the roof.
Innovations in typical MINI style: rear-end design, luggage compartment and safety concept.
The rear view of the car is characterised by innovative design features clearly originating from the design language so typical of MINI.
The rollbar instantaneously moving up whenever required and featured for the first time on the MINI Convertible is an important highlight of the safety concept ensured from the start in developing this unique car. The single-piece aluminium bar covering the entire width of the interior and moving up whenever required under electromechanical power within 150 milliseconds interacts with the reinforced windscreen frame as an essential element of maximum occupant safety on the passenger cell.
The outstanding character of this two-seater comes out not only in the harmonious design of the exterior so typical of the brand, but also in the interior with its high quality of finish and outstanding elegance.
As yet a further feature the cockpit of the MINI Roadster Concept comes with a multi-functional display able to provide a range of information according to the user’s individual choice. Positioned to the left of the rev counter, this display serves, for example, to show the driver exactly how much time he has spent on the road with the roof down, like with the Always Open Timer on the MINI Convertible, and is also able to provide further display functions typical of MINI.
Exclusive characters: MINI 50 Mayfair and MINI 50 Camden.
The MINI 50 Mayfair and the MINI 50 Camden presented at the 2009
Frankfurt Motor Show carry over the special flair of this unique MINI anniversary on to the road with lasting and sustained driving pleasure.
Through their characteristic design and exclusive features, both models clearly bear out the great tradition and the visionary power of the MINI brand. Both the MINI 50 Mayfair and the MINI 50 Camden are available with a choice of two petrol engines and one diesel power unit.
In both their design and equipment, the MINI 50 Mayfair and the MINI 50 Camden clearly stand out from the current production models in the MINI range. Indeed, numerous features contributing to the cars’ unmistakable looks are available only on these very special anniversary models.
Special body paint, light-alloy rims tailored to the character of each car, special materials and surfaces within the interior, as well as a colour scheme tailored to the looks of the MINI 50 Mayfair and, respectively, the MINI 50 Camden underline the exclusive status of each car in the same way as the anniversary placard on the radiator grille.
MINI 50 Mayfair: elegance with tradition.
The term “Mayfair” was already a sign of supreme comfort and extravagant looks back in 1982 on the classic Mini – and today the MINI 50 Mayfair re-interprets this unique understatement in truly modern style.
Precisely this exclusive character comes out ideally with the body paintwork in Hot Chocolate metallic so far reserved to the MINI Clubman and the MINI Convertible, combined in this case with a white roof, 17-inch white-painted 12-spoke light-alloy rims in Infinity Stream spoke design as well as three-dimensional bonnet stripes in light-brown Toffy metallic complete with a white edge at the border.
Additional headlights on the radiator grille, mirror caps in paintwork transcending from brown to black and a discreet “Mayfair” logo on the surrounds of the side direction indicators round off the exterior design of this anniversary model.
The trim bars also coming in brown at the bottom change into a black colour higher up to provide a perfect transition to the instrument panel likewise finished in black. The Colour Line at the bottom of the instrument panel and the armrests on the door linings as well as the inlays in the steering wheel, finally, again come in that unique Toffy colour.
MINI 50 Camden: progressive sportiness all the way.
The MINI 50 Camden stands out from the start through the dominance of its colours Silver, White and Black emphasising the car’s technical character and sportiness. Body paint in White Silver metallic is combined in this case with a white roof.
Further features are 17-inch light-alloy rims designed exclusively for this model, sporting, three-dimensional silver-stripe trim on the side shoulders of the bonnet lid, and exterior mirror caps which, like on the MINI 50 Mayfair, boast a twin-tone stripe trim extending up from silver to pure white.
In combination with xenon headlights featured as standard on the MINI Cooper S 50 Camden, the headlight units with their black-coloured lenses offer a particularly progressive and dynamic touch.
The interior of the MINI 50 Camden also offers a most contrasting colour scheme combining Carbon Black with trim surfaces on the dashboard merging in its colour like the exterior mirror caps from white to silver.
The trim surfaces on the door linings, in turn, come in Fluid Silver, while the sports seats in cloth/Ray leather feature leather surfaces like the lower edge of the instrument panel and the armrests on the door linings in Tech White. The black cloth sections in the middle show a discreet pattern with staggered white stripes extending from front to rear.
Making an ideal start: the MINI One D.
The MINI model range is more versatile and attractive than ever before in the anniversary year of the brand, with the MINI One D now joining the portfolio as the latest model.
This new entry-level diesel offers a particularly economical start into the brand world of the MINI characterised by driving pleasure and premium quality, combining the benefits of a modern diesel engine with an attractive base version.
The MINI One D combines spontaneous power with exceedingly efficient use of fuel under all conditions. Its 1.6-litre four-cylinder comes with direct common-rail fuel injection and a turbocharger with variable turbine geometry for optimum development of power at all engine speeds. Maximum output of this diesel engine particularly light through its aluminium structure is 90 hp at an engine speed of 4,000 rpm. Peak torque of 215 Newton-metres, in turn, comes at just 1,750 rpm.
In combination with the six-speed manual gearbox featured as standard, this nimble diesel engine ensures sporting performance and acceleration, the MINI One D completing the sprint from 0–100 km/h in 11.5 seconds and reaching a top speed of 182 km/h.
The new MINI One D also comes as standard with a diesel particulates filter as well as numerous technologies serving to maximise the car’s efficiency. These include Brake Energy Regeneration as well as a gearshift point indicator and an Auto Start Stop function switching off the engine when the car comes to a stop at traffic lights or a road junction.
Average fuel consumption of the MINI One D as determined in the EU test cycle is just 30.7 kpl, with a CO2 emission rating of 104 grams per kilometre.
Typically MINI: agile handling and comprehensive occupant safety.
Like on all models within the brand, drive power on the MINI One D goes to the front wheels. Another highlight typical of the car and, of course, of MINI in general is that unique go-kart feeling, agile handling being ensured by the front axle with McPherson spring struts, the multi-arm rear axle and EPS Electrical Power Steering with speed-related power assistance.
The safety features offered by the MINI One D include frontal and side airbags as well as head airbags at the side, while all four seats come with three-point inertia-reel seat belts.
The standard equipment offered by this new entry-level diesel is the same as on the MINI One. The looks of the car likewise bear clear resemblance to the “standard” petrol engine model, while the new entry-level diesel is naturally also available with the usual wide range of options and special equipment enabling every enthusiast to turn his or her MINI into a personally configured one-off showpiece.
1959–2009: milestones in a unique story of success.
The anniversary of the brand offers a great opportunity to look back at a story of success truly unique in the car industry the world over. Only very few car concepts have survived for such a long period or have achieved this kind of popularity, and none of them was ever interpreted in such a great number of variants as the classic Mini built for the first time in 1959.
Then, with the brand being re-launched in 2001, the MINI started immediately to add further exciting chapters to this fascinating history.
It was exactly fifty years ago, on 26 August 1959, that British Motor Corporation (BMC) proudly presented two variants of a truly innovative small car: the Morris Mini-Minor and the Austin Seven. This double premiere was attributable at the time to BMC’s broad range of brands, with the two models being almost identical: both featuring extremely compact dimensions, the Morris Mini-Minor and the Austin Seven offered space for four occupants and their luggage, they were inexpensive not only to buy, but also to keep, and they offered both comfortable and agile driving qualities.
All this resulted from a revolutionary concept developed at the time by Alec Issigonis, the Deputy Technical Director of the Austin Plant in Longbridge.
The concept developed by Alec Issigonis: ideal conditions for maximum use of space and that legendary go-kart feeling.
To implement his vision of an affordable, straightforward and uncomplicated small car for the entire family and for a wide range of the population, Issigonis, a brilliant engineer, took new approaches in terms of both body design as well as the drivetrain and suspension concept.
Never before had the combination of front-wheel drive and the engine fitted at the front been used as consistently to provide superior driving qualities and extra space as on the Mini. Beneath the short bonnet there was sufficient space for an 848-cc 34-hp four-cylinder, but only because Issigonis fitted the engine crosswise into the car and positioned the gearbox beneath the drive unit. This revolutionary innovation fully reflected the principle of form follows function crucial to the design of MINI to this very day.
The short overhangs front and rear as well as the wheels positioned far to the outside likewise benefited not only the space available, but also the car’s roadholding. The result was that 80 per cent of the space offered by the MINI only 3.05 metres in length was available to the passengers and their luggage.
Issigonis also focused on innovations in creating the steering system. Since the usual universal joints tended to deflect when turning the steering hard to one side or the other, the father of the MINI decided to use homokinetic joints in the car. This allowed an adequate steering angle without any deflection and at the same time significantly reduced the influence of engine power on the steering, setting the basis for the go-kart MINI feeling legendary to this very day.
From a sporting talent to a serial winner:
MINI dominates the Monte Carlo Rally.
The class win scored by Finnish racing driver Rauno Aaltonen in the 1963
Monte Carlo Rally was indeed the beginning of an unprecedented series of success in motorsport leading on to three overall victories in Monte Carlo in 1964, 1965, and 1967.
This marked the beginning of an unusually sporting career on both the road and the race track. For the potential offered by the engine and the concept of the car still had a long way to go in the MINI Cooper. Issigonis and Cooper increased engine capacity to 1,071 cc, with maximum output of 70 hp, making the MINI Cooper S an outstanding performer not only on the road.
Parallel to the sporting success of the car, the various versions of the classic Mini soon acquired a growing community of fans.
Through its practical qualities, agile driving characteristics and charming flair, the MINI became a car for all classes within society soon inspiring artists in their work, playing a leading role in cinema films, and enriching the car fleets of well-known celebrities.
It also became obvious very soon that the concept of the MINI was simply ideal for diversification in a number of other model variants, with the Mini Van and Mini Estate entering production in the very first year of the classic Mini. A year later they were followed by the Morris Mini-Traveller and Austin Seven Countryman estate models, and further versions joined the range in the years to come – extending from the MINI Pick-Up in 1961 through the particularly sophisticated Wolseley Hornet and Riley Elf adding two further BMC brands to the range in the same year all the way to the MINI Moke, a four-seater completely open on all sides introduced in 1964.
In 1967 the classic Mini received a more powerful engine increased in size to 998 cubic centimeters and with maximum output of 38 hp. Two years later the MINI Clubman joined the range as a slightly larger version with a modified front end. And some important details also changed in 1969, the front side windows featured by the classic Mini from the start being replaced on all models by wind-down windows, the door hinges at the outside being moved to the inside, and an individual MINI logo being presented on the engine compartment lid.
Production of the classic Mini ended in the year 2000, with more than 5.3 million units of the world’s most successful small car having come off the production lines in various versions.
A new start in 2001 – with the MINI Cooper right from the beginning.
When BMW took over Rover Group in early 1994 new perspectives opened up for the MINI brand.
In 1997 BMW presented a concept of the MINI Cooper at the Frankfurt Motor show offering an outlook at a possible new version of this unique car from Britain.
Then, in 2001, the new, future-oriented rendition of the original appeared at the dealership in the guise of the MINI Cooper and MINI One.
Creating these models, the MINI designers answered the question as to what the ideal small car would look like if the concepts developed by Alec Issigonis in the 1950s were combined with the technical potentials and customer wishes of the 21st century.
Through its design alone, the new MINI provided an authentic rendition of the classic Mini in its character, introducing design language boasting a unique combination of lines, joints, circles and ellipses.
While significantly longer, the proportions of the car including the short overhangs front and rear remained the same, giving the MINI that unique agile handling borne out from the start by the looks of the car.
A further point was that details typical of the brand and quite unmistakable already on the classic Mini were now re-interpreted in modern style: From the modern rendition of the hexagon radiator grille and the round headlights now integrated in the bonnet, through the bonnet joints on the MINI extending upwards at the same angle as the seam on the side panels of the classic Mini, and all the way to the rear light clusters in upright position, special design features gave the car a unique touch.
With front-wheel drive, four-cylinder power units fitted crosswise at the front, exceptionally good handling, short body overhangs and space for four, the new models immediately took up elementary features of the classic Mini.
From the original to the original: the second generation of MINI.
The great success of the MINI obviously set the foundation for consistently continuing the concept and developing additional potentials. Further improved in an evolutionary design process and fundamentally upgraded in technical terms, the second generation of the MINI entered the market in November 2006.
Following the motto “from the original to the original”, the looks of the MINI already lauded the world over were further refined through many details giving even greater emphasis to the sporting virtues of this compact and agile performer.
Almost exactly to the day one year after the introduction of the new model generation, the MINI model range was extended in autumn 2007 by an innovative vehicle concept: With its wheelbase up by 8 centimetres, the MINI Clubman offers brand-new opportunities to enjoy the driving pleasure so typical of the brand.
The latest newcomer to the range, on the other hand, is the second-generation MINI Convertible. Offering even more sporting design, active and passive safety optimised to a higher standard than ever, a wider range of functions and the latest generation of engines, the world’s only premium Convertible in the MINI segment once again raises the benchmark for driving pleasure of the highest standard.
The current range of engines is more versatile than ever before. The MINI is now available with no less than four petrol and two diesel engines, the MINI Clubman comes with three petrol engines and one diesel, and the MINI Convertible is currently available with two petrol engines.
For the first time there are also three truly unique models under the John Cooper Works brand, the top-of-the-range MINI John Cooper Works, the MINI John Cooper Works Clubman, and the MINI John Cooper Works Convertible, through their 211 hp four-cylinder power unit derived from motorsport, offering a particularly intense rendition of the Mini’s high-performance character.
The John Cooper Works brand integrated within MINI and also offering accessories for the drivetrain, suspension, aerodynamics and design has in the meantime become the epitome of extreme driving pleasure based on extensive know-how in motorsport and a close connection with MINI now going back for decades.
Made in England: MINI production based on tradition and high quality standards.
The unique story of success of the MINI brand is closely connected to the production of the cars in Great Britain.
On 4 April 1959 the first Austin Seven came off the production line in the Austin Longbridge Plant near Birmingham. Five weeks later, on 8 May, the first Morris Mini-Minor was built at the Oxford Plant.
Within just six years more than a million MINIs were built in Oxford, that is in exactly the same time that the classic Mini also took to pass the one-million mark. And just a few weeks after the official celebrations on the 50th anniversary of the brand at the Silverstone race track, MINI Plant Oxford was able to celebrate yet another anniversary, with production of the MINI after starting out in 2001 amounting to no less than 1.5 million units.
Together with the sales figures of the former model, the brand now accounts,
therefore, for 6.8 million cars built in Britain and sold the world over.
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