Personally, I love it. And I must not be the only one, because in the face of public reaction and media pressure, the people at MINI are seriously considering mass production. Already last March, there was talk of a possible production of the Superleggera.
This week, in an Autocar interview, BMW board member Peter Schwarzenbauer explained that they are "working hard to bring the concept to market". He added: "It's a complicated project financially and no final decision has been made yet, but many people at BMW are fighting for it to materialize".
So we still have no confirmation of a possible series production, albeit limited, the MINI Superleggera. Using the UKL platform from the current MINI and BMW 2 Series ActiveTourer, the MINI Superleggera could feature the full range of engines and transmissions already available in those models. The integration of a soft top and a windshield more adaptable to a soft top, as well as the dashboard from the current range, pose no major difficulties. Schwarzenbauer makes it clear that it's not the technology but the economics that is the problem.
The market for roadsters has fallen by more than 70% since 2007 (production of convertibles in general fell by 55% in the same period of time). BMW's decision will be favourable if they are convinced that there is a market for a front-wheel drive roadster and, above all, at a reasonable price.
The roadster segment fell by 70 % worldwide between 2007 and 2014.
Buying a roadster is a passion thing, they are not really practical cars and even less versatile, they are simply toys. A car with no roof and two seats has no pragmatic reason to be. In fact, its only purpose is for the driver - and perhaps also the passenger - to have fun.
Currently, the roadster segment is dominated by the Mazda MX5 at the affordable end of the market and the Porsche Boxster at the upper end. In between, the BMW Z4, Mercedes SLK, Audi TT and Jaguar F-Type, to name a few, battle it out. Except for the Audi TT (but that has Quattro traction in its sportier versions), all models in the segment are rear-wheel drive.
We already know that the type of traction is irrelevant for a huge part of the clientele of a 1 Series or 2 Series Active Tourer, but in the case of a roadster is not so clear. The last front-wheel drive roaster to hit the market with some success was the Fiat Barchetta, because nobody remembers the Renault Wind any more...
Will there be enough market for a front-wheel drive roadster, even if it's in limited production?
You'll tell me that MINI already has a precedent of a roadster as a halo car. And that's true; in part. The MINI raodster and coupe, which accounted for less than 5% of MINI sales, were never the halo car they hoped for; a role that the John Cooper Works continues to play. But above all, MINI roadster and coupé shared mechanical, body and interior elements with the rest of the range. In the case of the Superleggera, although it will share platform and mechanics, there remains the question of the interior - do we recover that of the range or that of the concept - to be associated with the specific bodywork. All this will necessarily make production more expensive and therefore the selling price. A production that would assume, BMW or Touring? This is another element that could make the final product more expensive.
Finally, let's remember that in this type of car, there is always a gamble component when it comes to launching it on the market, even when all the media and the public say yes. Just look at the European sales results of the Toyota GT-86/Subaru BRZ to see that.
And these are the doubts that BMW has to solve if we want to see a MINI Superleggera on the streets. In the end, if BMW are clear that they can place between 2,000 and 5,000 units in the world, as a limited series, at less than 50,000 euros and making money with it, obviously, then yes we will have MINI Superleggera. Patience, between now and the Geneva Motor Show, at the latest, the decision should be made.