Published on May 29th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro1
The MINI Superleggera Roadster Is Electric Driving Bliss
The MINI Superleggera Vision Concept is what you get when the German owners of a British brand turn to Italian designers to create a lightweight electric roadster. And while too many cooks often spoil the brother, this European collaboration of carbuilders has cooked up an incredible concept that deserves serious consideration for production.
It’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility, and judging from the Internet’s reaction, BMW might do well to consider this concept for production. The MINI Superleggera Vision is a hand-built expression of minimalist driving passion that combines classic British and Italian styling together in a single vessel. The emphasis on this project was the driving experience, though great care was taken to provide some measure of comfort and luxury to the driver as well.
At the heart of the MINI Superleggera concept is a hand-shaped aluminum body built by master metalworks of Touring Superleggera, which BMW contracted to construct this gorgeous concept. There are very few panel gaps, as the MINI Superleggera was constructed from huge sheets of aluminum to give it an unbroken, sleek feel. Carbon fiber reinforced plastic was also used to keep the weight off, meaning this MINI is even lighter than its ilk. A true driver from front to back, and it’s hard not to be reminded of classics from the likes of Aston Martin or Jaguar. The original MINI never made anything like this.
Powering this keen concept car is an unspecified electric drivetrain that seems more placeholder than actually planned for production, as no power figures of any kind were mentioned in the press release. Instead the focus is the light weight of the Superleggera (which in Italian means quite simply “super light”), and should the MINI Superlegerra ever aspire to be more than just a concept, a conventional powertrain would make more sense in keeping with the lightweight nature of the beast.
Even a small battery pack with a very modest range would add hundreds, of not thousands of pounds to the curb weight of the MINI Superleggera, whereas a small conventional drivetrain, like the new three-cylinder engine powering the 2015 MINI models, could provide enough oomph without adding too many unnecessary pounds. Then again, the EV version of the BMW i3 managed to keep the weight off despite its electric drivetrain, so I wouldn’t count EV power out just yet, and a plug-in hybrid drivetrain could strike the right balance between performance and weight.
It might take five years, but this concept has enough potential to make a great case for production. Then again, I thought the same thing about the won’t-ever-happen MINI Paceman Adventure pickup. The MINI Superleggera is MINI getting back to its roots, in a roundabout, luxury roadster EV sorta way.
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