Sunday, December 20, 2009

MINI Coupe Concept: First Official Photos of 211HP Two-Seater Coupe

*Updated Gallery with 40 High-Res Images
As we reported on Monday night, MINI is celebrating its 50th birthday today with the release of the first official photos of the Coupe Concept that is set to make its world premiere at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. In essence, it's a MINI John Cooper Works hatch that had its rooftop cutoff and replaced with a coupe-like greenhouse and a steeper front windshield.

The design of the weird-looking but lightweight aluminum top is said to have been inspired by a baseball hat that MINI designer Gert Hildebrand saw his teenage son wearing backwards - go figure. According to the company, the new roof lowers the car's centre of gravity thus significantly reducing body movement and optimizing driving behavior.

Other details like the front and rear bumpers, headlamps, front grille and evidently, the rear-end design have been reworked but that's basically it.

Inside, the Coupe model ditches the hatchback's rear seat bench which helps increase luggage space from 160 liters to 250 liters (8.8 cu ft). To justify the concept moniker, MINI's designers spiced up the hatchback's cabin with a unique color scheme and higher quality materials such as leather upholstery and carbon fiber decorative trim.

A unique feature of the Coupe is the addition of two Chronoswiss clocks adjacent the rev counter. One clock is a purpose-built stopwatch for taking lap times, the second clock shows the time in classic style.

The two seater is motivated by the MINI John Cooper Work's 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbocharged engine that cranks out 211 horsepower and a peak torque of 260Nm (192 lb-ft) increasing through the Overboost function for a short while to 280Nm (206 lb-ft). Like the MINI hatch, power is delivered to the front wheels.

However, the lightweight aluminum roof together with the elimination of the rear seats and numerous other weight saving measures means that the Coupe is lighter and consequently, faster than the hatchback model.

Our sources tell us that the Coupe will be joined in Frankfurt by a roadster concept, details of which will be revealed closer to the show.

It remains to be seen if MINI will actually go ahead and produce the coupe (and/or the roadster model for that matter), but unless the car receives mixed or bad reviews from the press and public alike, we really can't see why not. After all, it's just a MINI with a different roof and two less seats...

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