Mini concept models - a look back

2012-08-08 11:55

Concept cars serve as a “creative playground” for car designers and since its revival in 2001 British automaker Mini is no stranger to radical car designs.

From innovative lighting concepts, new body styling and features, concept cars offer an open-door policy to ideas of any kind. Whereas some concept cars eventually evolve into production vehicles (Mini Paceman) others were perhaps too far ahead of their time and headed into obscurity (Mini Monte Carlo Rally).

Below are some of Mini’s concept cars dating back as far as 1997:


Rocketman concept  - 2011-2012.

In 2012 the Rocketman was revealed decked out in the colours of the British national flag, the Union Jack. The concept car features a new lighting design for the Union Jack on the roof. First conceived in 2011 the Rocketman concept pushes the traditional Mini design to the limit with its creative use of space. The vehicle is a two door hatchback with a 3+1 seat configuration.

Mini Paceman – 2010-2012

Mini first revealed its Paceman concept back in 2010. Based on the Countryman, the new model would be the first sports activity coupé (SAC) in the premium segment. After some back-and-forth regarding its moniker the new model will eventually head into production in 2013. The two-door compact SUV is virtually identical to the Countryman at the front. Unfortunately there is still no confirmation on what will power the new Paceman though at its concept debut it was powered by a John Cooper Works 1.6 twin-turbo engine capable of 157kW. 

The new model could be powered by the same 1.6-litre engines as the conventional Countryman, including the 82kW/270Nm diesel and the turbocharged 135kW/240Nm petrol for the Cooper S variants.

Mini’s ALL4 all-wheel-drive system will also be available.

Expect the new model to make its global debut at the 2012 Paris auto show in September.

Beachcomber 2009-2010.

The precursor to the Countryman focused on maximising driving fun and boasted a radical, open-air body concept. The Beachcomber was Mini’s attempt to combine a dune buggy while retaining the compact design of the brand. The model was to serve as a hat-tip for the 1960's Mini Moke and focused on highlighting various interior design features.


Scooter E - 2010
In 2010 Mini carried its carefree attitude to two wheels with the introduction of an electric scooter at the Paris auto show.

Taking cues from its battery Mini E model, the Scooter E Concept hoped to take zero-emissions driving fun for two-wheeled riding enthusiasts.

The Mini Scooter E concept is powered by an electric motor integrated in the rear wheel while the lithium-ion battery can be recharged using a conventional household power supply.

Hallmark details were reflected in three design variants - one focused on “Britishness”, another on the Mod movement which was such an important part of scooter culture, and the third model adopted the design of the Mini E.

Mini roadster and coupe – Concept in 2009, launch locally in 2011 - 2012
In their own distinctive ways, the “Oxford Twins” showcased a wealth of exciting features offering a fresh interpretation of the Mini design in 2009. The Coupé delivered undiluted driving fun wrapped up in an ultra-sporty coupé skin, while the unadulterated, elegant Roadster positively exuded stylish open-top motoring. The Coupe was launched in South Africa in 2011 and the roadster in 2012.

Mini crossover (Countryman) – First shown in 2008, launched locally in 2010
This concept for the Countryman offered plentiful space for rear passengers and unprecedented load capacity for a Mini.

Mini concepts - 2005/2006.

The British automaker showed off a series of four concept cars over a two-year period at the Franfurt, Tokyo, Detroit and Geneva auto shows during 2005 and 2006. Each variant was tailored to the venue of its presentation. The four variations on the theme acted as previews for the Mini Clubman. The concept unveiled in Frankfurt was billed “Travel in style” while in Tokyo the car’s British origins were brought to the fore.

A winter sport theme titled “Sports Equipment Carrier” was shown in Detroit and in Geneva the concept reprised the role of the service car in the Monte Carlo Rally. All four versions showed an innovative door concept  and the split rear doors offered betetr access to the luggage area.

Concept Monte Carlo Rallye - 1997.

In 1997 Mini showcased a two-seater concept model with the aim of highlighting the victory of the classic model in the 1967 Monte Carlo Rally.  Design icons such as the hexagonal grille and circular headlights were given a contemporary makeover.

The concept car was followed in 2001 by the arrival of the first modern Mini.