Mini first revealed its Superleggera concept at the 2014 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Italy last year, and since then, rumors have been circulating about whether the automaker would build a production version, or if the attractive roadster would simply remain in concept purgatory.
Now finally, we have some good news: Autocar is reporting that the Superleggera will indeed be built to rival the Mazda MX-5 and upcoming Fiat 124 before the end of the decade. The new model will be part of an overhauled Mini lineup and will have several variants.
Mini executive Peter Schwarzenbauer said: “The interest was tremendous when we showed this concept car. We are now working hard to get it on the street. It’s an economically challenging project and there is no firm decision, but we have a lot of people here that are fighting for it. I think it would be extremely good for the brand.”
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The production Superleggera will be based on the UKL architecture that underpins the current Mini hatchback and therefore will be offered with front-wheel drive standard and all-wheel drive as an option or for a more powerful version. That will obviously make the Mini distinct from entry-level roadsters that use rear-wheel drive platforms.
When discussing the Superleggera in relation to the coupe and roadster Mini models that will be discontinued, Schwarzenbauer said: “They don’t compare. The Superleggera is a serious sports car.” As such, the range of engine options will keep things interesting. The entry level motor will most likely be borrowed from the Mini Cooper, meaning a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder making over 134 horsepower. A John Cooper Works version is also planned with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making about 227 HP.
A hybrid version could join the ranks later using a version of the BMW i8’s all-wheel drive powertrain. This setup will be pioneered by the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, which pairs a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder with an electric motor for a combined 216 HP and 209 pound-feet of torque. The first Mini vehicle to borrow the hybrid system will be the 2017 Countryman.
Styling should mirror the Superleggera Vision Concept with a longer nose and more pronounced design characteristics than the average Mini. Let’s hope Mini doesn’t deviate too far from the ultra-attractive concept.