Despite the persisting rhetoric, the United States marketplace has become quite friendly to hatchbacks.
BMW division MINI has secured consistently high sales as a premium compact vehicle. Selling 45,644 vehicles for 2010 just as the new Countryman entered production, MINI has won over both small car and hatchback (or two-box) fans. Though modern automotive customers have shown acceptance to radical vehicle design, most automakers selling in the United States are still concerned about risking their important small cars to the two-box body style. Ford Motor Company has brought the Fiesta and the 2012 Focus with the safety net of the familiar sedan body style.
Happily expanding their line-up over the past several years with the Clubman and Countryman models, MINI choice to buck market trends has the small car brand has awaited 10 years to introduce their first notchback. Radiating with a well-defined sport compact glow, the new coupe version of the modern MINI car compiles this look retaining many key design components of the base MINI Cooper. The MINI Coupe key feature is, of course, the smaller roof area. Incorporating what MINI calls a “helmet roof” form, the Coupe’s curvy upper contours wrap around to the rear window. The much-planned MINI Cooper Coupe is officially confirmed for production as the brand’s first two-seater. Another unique inclusion on the MINI Cooper Coupe is a deployable rear spoiler. At speeds beyond 50 kilometers per hour (31.1 miles per hour), the Cooper Coupe aerodynamic device raises to stabilize the car.
A three-box body style, this profound departure for the current MINI brand is actually a historical retread to the early 1960s. From 1961 to 1969, the British Motor Company’s original Mini line-up contained two-coupes called the Wolseley Hornet and Riley Elf. A modern MINI concept version of this car was unveiled in 2009 and was all but confirmed for production by the auto maker. To be sold in base, S and John Cooper Works models, the MINI Cooper Coupe will enjoy the line-up flexibility of the hatchback version of the Cooper.
For the MINI Cooper Coupe, adopting the three-box vehicle design to the 97.1 inch wheelbase standard Cooper platform received a noted sacrifice. Excluding the rear seat passengers entirely, the MINI Cooper Coupe is a firm two-seater. Losing the rear seat, some of the rear cargo space is retained on the MINI Cooper Coupe and accessible through a high-opening tailgate section. However, expect limited space able to accommodate about an equal amount of cargo as an impractical sports car.
However, as an impractical sport cars, the MINI Cooper Coupe is unapologetic with enhanced performance potential. Resting up to 29 millimeters (1.14 inches) lower than the MINI Cooper, the MINI Coupe presents a more possessive hold on the go-cart-like handling the brand recalls as a hallmark. Providing the same powerplant choices as the units found in the MINI Cooper hatchback, the MINI Cooper Coupe will be propelled a 1.6 liter single overhead cam engine set within three power ranges. A normally aspirated 1.6 liter will produce 122 horsepower on the base MINI Cooper Coupe, the engine will be matched with a 6-speed automatic. Both turbocharged the 184-horsepower Cooper S Coupe and 211-horsepower John Cooper Works Coupe edition have an option of a 6-speed manual gearbox. There will also be an Overboost available for the MINI Cooper S Coupe and John Cooper Works allowing up to 207 pounds-feet of torque to be presented from to the front-wheel transaxle Like many vehicles sold in Europe, a diesel option will be available for the Eastern part of the Atlantic Ocean.
Neither BMW Group nor MINI has yet to officially document the release of the Cooper Coupe for the North American market. However, the wait should be short; likely late 2011 or probably sooner. With pricing also left unannounced, it’s possible the MINI Cooper Coupe would retail for less or equal cost to the existing Cooper hatchback.
Information and photo source: BMW Group