First shown at the Geneva Motor Show last year, reports in January claimed BMW had canned plans to put the car into production due to problems with stability, and getting it to meet crash regulations.
Now though, it’s back, and according to the press release, it’s a “new edition of the concept car” that will be a “showcase for the company during the Games.” Why would BMW roll out an old design that wasn’t going anywhere to promote itself? It doesn’t make much sense, and could indicate the project isn’t quite as dead as was reported.
Despite being called a new design, the Olympic Rocketman doesn’t look all that different to the old model, but there are plenty of stylistic differences in honor of the Olympics.
The patriotic color scheme recalls the Union Jack, which is also featured on the glass roof — a nod to the original Mini — where optical fibers are used to highlight the white braces. This theme continues inside, where red, white and blue is used extensively on all the surfaces.
Printed on the dash and the door inserts is a list of all the previous Olympic cities and the year in which they hosted the Games, plus down in the center console, there’s a recreation of a basketball game with tiny figures. Why? Who knows, but it’s quirky enough to be cool.
Otherwise the car looks very similar to the last version, with those funky hooped rear lights, 18-inch rims, exposed carbon fiber, the split trunk with its slide-out drawer and the double-hinged doors. Inside it’s the same two-plus-one seating arrangement. The powertrain isn’t mentioned, although it was previously linked with a hybrid motor capable of returning 100 miles-per-gallon.
There’s no denying the Mini Rocketman looks fantastic, and unlike BMW’s distinctly not-mini Minis, it appears to be quite compact. The figures provided with the first Rocketman concept reveal it to be wider with a longer wheelbase than a standard Mini though. Of course it’s a bit shorter, and even manages to beat the VW Up! and the Fiat 500 in this respect, but only by 10cm/4-inches or so.
It seems strange, then, given it’s dimensionally about the same as two cars that are already in production, that BMW has struggled with the Rocketman. Perhaps it has now overcome the issues and that 2016 release date could be back on. Here’s hoping.