After years of seemingly unrestricted expansion, executives are re-thinking the MINI lineup and they have hinted the Paceman, the Roadster, and the Coupe will not be replaced. As a trade-off, the stunning Superleggera Vision concept (pictured) that was shown last year at the Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance has been given the green light for production, a new report claims.
The Superleggera will be positioned above the topless version of the MINI Hardtop as a more back-to-basics, driver-focused model aimed right at the fourth-gen Mazda Miata and the upcoming Fiat 124 Spider. Designed as MINI’s halo car, the Superleggera is expected to make the transition from concept to production with only minor visual modifications. The futuristic headlights, the overly thin side mirrors and the frameless windshield will be tossed out, but the long fin on the trunk lid and the Union Jack-shaped tail lamps will surprisingly be retained.
The concept shown at Villa d’Este was powered by a futuristic all-electric drivetrain. However, the production model will use the same BMW-sourced three- and four-cylinder gasoline-burning engines found under the hood of the standard MINI Hardtop. The roadster will be offered in both base and S forms, but whether the lineup will be topped off with a hot-rodded John Cooper Works model is up in the air.
To benefit from economies of scale, MINI will build the Superleggera on the UKL platform that underpins the aforementioned Hardtop and a growing number of BMWs including the Europe-only 2 Series Active Tourer. That means front-wheel drive will come standard, but all-wheel drive might be available as an option on high-zoot models.
Of course, MINI’s tight-lipped PR department has neither confirmed nor denied the rumor. If it turns out to be true, the Superleggera will likely be presented with a new moniker at a major auto show in 2017, and it will go on sale in the spring of 2018.