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Auto Show:  2011 Geneva Auto Show

Mini Rocketman Concept and Clubman Hampton - Geneva Auto Show

March 2011 author photo


March 7, 2011

Shocking news. After introducing ever-bigger variants over the past couple of years, Mini has a concept car for the 2011 Geneva auto show that's actually smaller than a normal Mini. This radical change of approach is called the Rocketman.

It's Mini's take on city cars like the Smart Fortwo and upcoming Scion iQ, where fuel efficiency occupies center stage with space efficiency. To that end, the Rocketman is based on a light-yet-strong carbon spaceframe and – at 11 feet, three inches long – the whole car is shorter than a Mini Cooper by just under a foot.

If that sounds cramped for a couple of rear passengers, don't worry, there's only really space for one in the back, thanks to a "three-plus-one seating" arrangement. All the seats are specially designed lightweight items that can be configured to accommodate two with ease, three at a push, or four at a pinch. The "plus one" component is a smaller seat behind the driver that can fold down for better cargo stowage.

Getting into those seats is achieved via two double-hinged doors that make entry and exit more graceful than it might have been with conventional single-hinged equivalents. And the tailgate is a two-piece affair where the lower section pulls out like a drawer. Concept cars can get away with this kind of thing.

Mini is vague about what kind of theoretical drivetrain might be installed, apart from mentioning "sprinting ability" and "average fuel consumption of three liters per 100 kilometers." That's around 78.4 mpg to us, so perhaps there's some hybrid gadgetry involved. Those aerodynamic wheels certainly suggest it.

Techy trinkets are found inside, like 3D graphics in the big center speedo, a computer-like trackball on the steering wheel, and a control unit that can be removed from the car and linked to a home computer to update navigation, music playlists and contacts' details. That's because the Rocketman is aimed at those "whose mobility needs are shaped by their desire for driving fun, flexible usage possibilities and extensive connectivity with their lives outside the car," according to Mini. They might also like the glass roof that has illuminated braces arranged to look like the Union Jack.

Mini also has a fresh special edition in production, the Clubman Hampton. It's decidedly upscale, with bespoke leather-covered seats, specific alloy wheels and new Reef Blue paintwork. This adds $4,500 to the usual 2011 Cooper Clubman price, which starts at $21,100.

The Clubman Hampton is available now, but it represents a new line of personalization options that will come on the scene later in the year. Called Mini Yours, it features what the company describes as "extremely exclusive" premium options such as "unusual paint finishes" and "stylishly compiled equipment packages." It seems Mini can get away with this kind of thing.

COLIN RYAN has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Mini Rocketman Concept and Clubman Hampton - Geneva Auto Show - Autotrader