Not so fast: Decision to greenlight MINI’s Superleggera Vision still months away

When is a MINI no longer a MINI? Is it just the name, or rather the pint-sized, no-frills character of the classic that defines it?

When the MINI Mark I was introduced by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) in 1959, it emphasized compact driving for a compact lifestyle. It soon became a British automotive icon, however its marque shifted several times.

In the 1990s, BMW purchased Rover Group (a subsidiary of the BMC), and took over the reigns of the mighty MINI. In 2001, the city car gained its capital letters, growing both in name and in size. In the years since, the MINI brand has evolved into something quite different than what it once was.

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Four-door, convertible, racing, and even Paceman ute iterations have sprung up under BMW’s ownership, and according to Reuters, a radical new version may be on the way.

The MINI Superleggera Vision Concept was unveiled earlier this year, and Reuters’ report suggests that the lightweight electric car is being actively considered by BMW brass. The decision is still six months away, but outside of the Paceman car/truck hybrid, the Superleggera would probably the biggest departure from the original car in the nameplate’s history.

Co-designed by MINI and Italian coachbuilder Touring Superleggera, the superlight roadster is much longer and rounder than the traditional compact. As the car continues to grow and change, it begs the question: can we even call these MINIs anymore?

Automotive design progression is great, but when you compare the Superleggera to the originals side by side, the family resemblance is barely distinguishable. To be honest, the Vision Concept looks like an awkward cross between the third-generation Mazda MX-5 and the eleventh-gen Ford Thunderbird.

BMW is also pondering whether or not the MINI line should shrink to five models, or ‘superheroes,’ as one MINI board member calls them.

Currently, there are seven MINI variants to choose from.