MINI Rocketman ConceptEnlarge Photo
MINI’s Rocketman concept from 2011 is an odd homage to the brand’s minicar roots. While modern MINIs, like the Countryman crossover, have stretched in both dimensions and weight, the Rocketman concept returns to what the original Alec Issigonis-designed Mini was intended to be: a diminutive car ideal for urban environments.
Everything about the Rocketman makes it perfect for city dwellers. The car’s 11-foot length means you can park it (almost) anywhere, while the articulating doors make loading passengers or cargo in tight environs easier. Even the quirky 3+1 seating, designed for a driver and two passengers (or three, on short trips) is all most urbanites will need on a regular basis.
It seemed like production was close to happening, but then it didn’t look that way anymore. Reasons for the car’s demise included the cost of developing a suitable platform as well as the major hurdles involved in getting such a small car to meet crash safety standards.
Fast forward to today, and BMW, MINI’s parent, may just be able to develop a suitable platform for a car like the Rocketman with Toyota. BMW and Toyota are already working together on several projects, including development of a new sports car platform for their respective Z4 and Supra successors, and according to a report in Automobile the two automakers may be looking at developing a second platform together, this time for a proper minicar.
"It's still early days as far as the baby Mini goes,” a MINI insider told the magazine. “But when our new R&D board member Klaus Fröhlich traveled to America early in the new year, this was one of the subjects on his agenda.”
Though Toyota already has platforms for minicars like the one found in the Scion iQ, BMW is reportedly not keen to borrow an existing platform. Who could forget Aston Martin’s Cygnet fiasco?
One of the names being hinted at for the car is Minor, which was attached to the Issigonis-designed Mini launched in 1959. If it does come to light, the new mini MINI will be a fifth ‘pillar’ of the brand. The others include the Hardtop/Convertible, Clubman, Countryman and a new sports model to replace the previous Coupe and Roadster.