The future is cities and cities are getting smaller. These future cities will have lots of needs, and many of those will be related to sustainable living, and fifty years ago, the visionary Sir Alec Issigonis concepted and delivered a car that would change the world forever.
Hey, tough times build big ideas, and the time has come once more for a concept that addresses a future where limited resources - both in terms of energy and urban space - will become a simple fact of life.
Enter the MINI Rocketman concept: a vision for future-forward urban mobility from MINI. If the concept seems familiar - fuel efficient car filled with creative solutions to allow the maximum amount of room inside taking up the minimum space outside - that's because its born out of the core MINI philosophy.
The philosophy of 1959, built for 2012 and beyond.
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This beauty's set to take center stage at the International Geneva Motor Show from March 1st to the 13th, with a throwback to classic Mini exterior dimensions, and a technological skillset ready for next-generation urban mobility. They call this one a "3+1" seater - meaning that 4 can be done, 3 in total comfort, and 1+1 if serious sport is what's in store.
Clocking in at a touch longer than 3 meters — near the size of a Classic Mini — the MINI Rocketman Concept is all about bringing a MINI mobile lifestyle - true to the fundamental ideals of Sir Alec's Creative Use of Space - to the cities of the future.
Alongside a fresh interpretation of unmistakable MINI design features, the concept uses technology to create unique solutions in body and interior design.
Future-forward carbon construction, with a striking surface structure visible throughout the car, forms the basis of a design that allows for unprecedented flexibility in design options. Recent development allows MINI to maintain modern safety standards while delivering design freedom to engineers and draftsman that make for an improbably sharp looking vision of the future.
The car's a lot of fun to look at, and when it's time for everyone to pile in and head out for a spin? That's when the real fun begins: the doors are pretty wild. They don't swing on a hinge like your average set of side doors, instead gliding forward - accompanied by their sills - as they swing away from the body, allowing for way more room to work with when jumping in. This makes things especially nice when headed for the backseat, or when dealing with tight parking spaces.
18-inch wheels and that characteristic upper belt line, with a wrap-around greenhouse of a roof resting atop a newly svelte frame plays host to a powerful silhouette and an innovative light concept that brings everything to life.
A solid glass roof is segmented by illuminated braces to re-create the look of Britain's Union-Jack. When not illuminated, the longitudinal, horizontal and diagonal braces glow porcelain white. In darkness the integrated optical fibers give the interior of the MINI Rocketman Concept a rich, ambient illumination.
This cockpit LED lighting can be set to different schemes according to the vibe you're after: settings for sport driving (more lean and driver-focused), for lounging (bringing the whole cabin to life), or for illuminating the whole ride - inside and out - are available.
Out back, the downward-opening tailgate of the classic Mini is reimagined as a cargo solution: the drawer concept maximizes interior, keeping the outside neatly wrapped.
Behind the wheel it's not just about economy of space, but also economy of movement. All entertainment and navigation functions (including MINI Connected) can be operated via switches on the steering wheel of the MINI Rocketman Concept Car, allowing the driver to select, switch and scroll quickly and intuitively - with both hands on the steering wheel. The quality of these functions is further enhanced by high-resolution 3D graphics in the full-color display.
The MINI Rocketman Concept once again brings the traditional principles of the classic Mini onto the road, informed by breathtaking innovation.
Despite the new format, this MINI remains true to its bloodline. More than 50 years ago, the brand's first car triggered a revolution in automobile history. The classic Mini met the needs of urban mobility more comprehensively than any vehicle ever before, while at the same time offering the sport and individual style that set the seal on its legendary status.
After all, it seemed the best way forward was to go back again...
With a heart from 1959, the MINI Rocketman Concept is the right car at the right time.
With this new design concept, we're also welcoming a new MINI Head of Design - Mr. Anders Warming. When asked for a couple of words to share regarding the personal philosophy that guides his work at MINI, he told us that the dictum "Stay Authentic" rings particularly true.
"Only somebody who remains true to themselves and doesn't bend to pressure will be successful. For me that also applies to a brand or a car."
Well said, Mr. Warming. Here's to a big ‘welcome aboard' to both you and the MINI Rocketman Concept from the MINI Space Team.
Read more about Anders in next month's upcoming interview in The MINI International.