Mini Rocketman Concept
25th February, 2011
The development of concept cars for Mini is a way of
progressing the brand towards the future when the company hopes to have a broader range of vehicles
on offer. A constant stream of new ideas from its beginnings more than 50 years ago as part of BMC
to the present day under BMW ownership have ensured that the brand has continued to develop.
Underpinning this success has been the innovative use of space, a principle that enters new
territory with the Mini Rocketman Concept. The study car, which will be revealed to the public
worldwide for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show (3rd to 13th March 2011), harks back to the
classic Mini in terms of its exterior dimensions, while its technology points to the future of
automotive design. A 3+1-seater with 3 doors and a length of just over 3 metres (approx. 10 feet),
the Mini Rocketman Concept responds to the fundamental requirements of mobile lifestyles in the big
cities of the future by pooling the brandís core values in concentrated form. Ingenious
functionality, smile-inducing agility, exceptional efficiency and clever design come together into
an attractive and groundbreaking Mini sub-compact car concept.
Displaying both an awareness of tradition and talent for innovation, the Mini design team
developed the vision of a car that takes up little space on the road but boasts an spacious
interior. The Mini Rocketman Concept therefore carries over the classic virtues of the brand into a
pathbreaking vehicle concept. It offers a fresh interpretation of Mini design features, and uses
cutting-edge construction and manufacturing technology to provide unique solutions in body and
The innovative 'character' of the study is defined by the systematic application of lightweight
design principles and a pure-bred interior geared to driving fun and variability. A carbon
spaceframe construction, whose surface structure is visible at the front end of the car, around its
doors and in the interior, forms the basis for a weight-minimising construction. Indeed, the Mini
Rocketman Concept offers the ideal platform for achieving outstanding efficiency. To this end, it
is designed to allow the integration of a drive system which combines further enhanced sprinting
ability with average fuel consumption of just three litres per 100 kilometres (94 mpg imp).
Wide-opening doors with double-hinge joints and integrated sills facilitate entry into the Mini
Rocketman Concept. The lightweight seats are contoured in customary Mini style and can be arranged
in a variety of different positions. This allows owners to choose between maximum driving fun
two-up, a comfortable amount of room for three occupants, or even an efficient division of space
accommodating four seats.
The capacity of the luggage compartment can be adapted to passenger requirements just as
flexibly. The two-part tailgate consists of one section which is attached to the roof and opens
extremely high, and a lower section which extends out of the body in the form of a drawer.
The operating logic of the Mini Rocketman Concept is also geared to the multi-layered demands
of a contemporary target group, whose mobility needs are shaped by their desire for driving fun,
flexible usage possibilities and connectivity with their lives outside the car. The central
control unit can be taken out of the car and configured on a computer before the journey begins
to update navigation destinations, the music play list or contact details for mobile
The Mini Rocketman Concept body is shaped by an avant-garde interpretation of time-honoured
brand features. Innovative construction techniques allow the principle used in the classic Mini
Ė of providing the maximum amount of room on the smallest possible footprint Ė to be carried
over to the mobility challenges of urban areas in the 21st century. The Mini Rocketman Concept
measures 3.419 metres (approx. 11 ft. 3 in.) in length, adding just a few extra centimetres to
the front and rear of the brandís founding model from in 1959. The new study is 1.907 metres
(approx. 6 ft. 3 in.) wide, including the exterior mirrors, and stands 1.398 metres (approx. 4
ft. 7 in) tall. Its proportions also display clear symmetries with both the classic Mini and the
brandís present-day line-up. The brandís familiar appearance is therefore concentrated into a
new set of dimensions, with the concept for a new vehicle segment remaining unmistakably
recognisable as a Mini.
The interpretation of the characteristic Mini design language chosen for the study car also
exudes a powerful and dynamic allure. Tightly contoured surfaces, large wheels and a basic form
dictated by straight lines help give the Mini Rocketman Concept a solid structure. In addition
to its tell-tale proportions, a sprinkling of distinctive design features ensure that its brand
affiliation is immediately clear. Large, circular headlights and a radiator grille with chrome
surround dominate the front end. While the exterior contours of the headlights fit the familiar
visual template, their inner structure has been further developed for the new study. The
centrally positioned LED units generating full beam are bordered by an eye-catching light ring
for dipped-beam mode. Direction indicators integrated into the headlight units are a feature
shared with the current range of series-produced Mini models.
The dimensions of the headlights reflect those of the current Mini, which means they come
across as particularly large when set against the smaller 'face' of the study car. As stand-out
features of Mini design they symbolise the core values of the brand, which remain reassuringly
intact in the new vehicle concept represented by the study.
In the area surrounding the headlights and around the front apron and radiator grille,
sections of the carbon spaceframe are visible alongside the painted and chromed surfaces. Its
striking surface structure serves as a reminder of the studyís innovative construction
Powerful silhouette, innovative door concept
Large wheels and the three-level structural split of body, ďwraparoundĒ green-house and roof
resting on top give the flanks the same appearance as the Mini models already in series
production. The windows taper as they extend back towards the rear, emphasising the bodyís
dynamic wedge shape and offering an immediate hint of the vehicleís sporty and agile character.
The high waist-line, accentuated on the Mini by a chrome frame ringing the vehicle, takes the
form of a light strip on the Mini Rocketman Concept and throws the studyís powerful silhouette
into even sharper focus.
The studyís 18-inch wheels likewise leave no doubt that the sure-footed road-holding and
sporty handling properties of a Mini can also play a key role in a car with smaller dimensions.
The weight-saving wheels specially developed for the Mini Rocketman Concept have an
aerodynamically highly effective, enclosed surface structure. And the carbon wing contour of
the directional wheels also helps to reduce drag. An aluminium trim strip on the wheel rim
adds a stylistic touch.
Among the carís key design and functionality-related innovations are the two side doors.
Their length and the specially designed arrangement of the door sills allow comfortable access
to all the seats in the Mini Rocketman Concept. When opened, the doors pivot outwards complete
with their sills, enabling the driver and front passenger to climb in right next to their
seats. Entry to the rear seats is also made much easier by the carís unusual door concept. The
carbon spaceframe construction, together with the torsional stiffness of the under-body
structure, allows the arrangement of the side sills to be combined with high body rigidity.
In addition, a sophisticated opening mechanism ensures easy access into the car, even in
tight parking spaces. The front-hinged doors have a double-hinge joint, which also allows a
large opening angle when space is restricted. The innovative character of this construction
element is also evident when the doors are closed, the carbon hinges standing out visibly in
form and colour from the rest of the body. The Mini Rocketman Concept thus takes a stylistic
cue from the classic Mini, whose exterior-mounted door hinges also went on to become an
Projector-style rear lights, transparent and illuminated glass for the roof
The rear lights of the Mini Rocketman Concept have a trapezoidal stirrup design Ė into which
all the light functions are integrated Ė and work using projector technology. The lamp assembly
projects the rear and braking light and the light for the direction indicators onto the car
body. The high-output LED units used for the lights ensure that even this indirect illumination
concept produces the intensity of light that is necessary for safety.
The roof of the Mini Rocketman Concept also puts on an extraordinary light show. The
full-surface glass roof is segmented by illuminated braces to reproduce the look of Britainís
Union Jack flag. When not illuminated, the longitudinal, horizontal and diagonal braces glow a
bright Porcelain White. In darkness the integrated optical fibres give the interior of the Mini
Rocketman Concept an indirect illumination and, as a result, a nocturnal appearance.
The bright colour of the roof and mirror caps Ė likewise painted Porcelain White Ė provide
a contrast to the Bermuda (a warm shade of grey) of the body. The areas of carbon visible at
the front end and around the doors add further striking touches.
Split tailgate with drawer and integrated rear cargo carrier
The Mini Rocketman Concept also uses innovative technical solutions to open up new lay out
options for the luggage area. This enhances the versatility of the existing space and means
it can be used more efficiently. The split two-part tailgate consists of one section which
is attached to the roof and opens extremely high and a lower section which extends out 350
millimetres from the body in the form of a drawer unit. The drawer represents the further
development of the downward-opening tailgate seen on the original Mini. This construction
principle allows room to be made for pieces of luggage and travel items even when the car is
carrying four occupants. The Mini Rocketman Concept literally grows as a vehicle when itís
time to start loading up the gear.
An intelligent folding mechanism makes it possible to lock the cargo drawer of the Mini
Rocketman Concept either higher up or further in towards the passenger compartment, as the
loading scenario demands. This allows loads to be transported out of sight and protected from
the weather. If required, items can also be loaded through into the passenger compartment. In
addition, the open-top cargo drawer can also serve as a rear luggage carrier. Here,
purpose-built inserts make it easier to transport snowboards and other bulky items of sports
equipment. Added to which, the glass tailgate, which extends well into the roof, helps to
enhance loading flexibility. It is connected with the body via a centrally positioned hinge
with integrated gas strut system, which also allows it to be opened when the rear carrier is
loaded with gear.
Seat concept: the ideal position for every mobility requirement
The arrangement of the seats and control elements in the passenger compartment of the Mini
Rocketman Concept ensures versatility for the widest possible range of mobility needs. The
low-weight seats, which are traditional Mini in form, offer a high level of comfort and
optimum lateral support even for sporty drivers. The amount of space for the driver and
passengers can be varied as required. Three individual seats slide fore and aft, allowing a
high level of comfort with generous head, leg and shoulder room. There is also an additional
seat in the rear, whose backrest can be folded down fully to serve as a stowage surface.
Three mobility scenarios have been developed to define the real-life usage possibilities
offered by the interior of the study. In a layout designed specially to enhance the driving
experience, the Mini Rocketman Concept offers just the right amount of space for the driver
and front passenger. The front seats are pushed back as far as possible and the instrument
cluster also slides fore and aft.
If an additional passenger joins the two already on board, the front passenger can move the
seat forward again to take a position slightly further forward than the driver. In this
configuration, the front passengerís legroom is reduced to standard Mini levels to
accommodate an equally generously sized rear seat behind him/her. The Mini Rocketman Concept
also offers a practical solution for travelling with four people. Once the driver has returned
both his/her seat and the instrument cluster to the standard position, a second rear seat
allows a fourth person to climb aboard for shorter journeys, at least.
Innovative mix of materials
The impressive variability of the interior is complemented by a design which spotlights both
the unmistakable style of the brand and the study carís pioneering technology. The intention
behind the selection of materials and interior trim structure was to provide a feeling of
contemporary functionality and lightness. To this end, the carbon structure of the body frame
has been left exposed in the foot wells and around the centre console.
A fresh interpretation of customary Mini design features emphasises the further development
of the brandís design language inside the study car as well. The door panels house the door
pulls and the stowage compartments, which feature trim elements whose elliptical form reaches
past the B-pillar into the rear compartment. The surface design therefore offers a stylistic
nod to the variable division of space and shared driving experience provided by the Mini
Rocketman Concept interior.
Inside the car, leather covers and high-gloss painted surfaces combine with armrests and
trim strips made from a special paper that has been pressed and folded into the desired
structure. The trim strips are backlit by LED-powered fibre optics. Plus, a light strip that
wraps around the interior at waistline height generates a particularly harmonious ambience.
Innovative operating concept
An operating concept developed for the Mini Rocketman Concept brings together principles
from the Mini design handbook, innovative new functions and a pioneering operating system to
serve up driving fun over both short and long journeys. A cockpit instrument, positioned above
the steering wheel and therefore directly in the driverís field of view, houses the rev counter
and on-board computer display. The large-format Centre Speedo with peripheral speedometer and
multi-functional colour display also adheres to the system logic familiar from the current
range of series-produced Mini cars as far as display arrangement is concerned. The development
of the rigorously applied display/control element separation principle, meanwhile, has been
taken to the next level.
In addition to multi-function buttons on the steering wheel, the current Mini also has a
joystick on the centre console for operating vehicle-related, navigation, entertainment and
communications functions. By contrast, the Mini Rocketman Concept concentrates all the control
elements on the steering wheel. This reflects an ongoing commitment to the concept of simple
and intuitive operation, and means that the driver can operate more functions than ever while
keeping both hands on the steering wheel at all times.
A press of the thumb on the relevant multi-function buttons on the left-hand steering wheel
spoke is all that is required to use front-line controls such as the volume for the audio
system and the call pick-up function for incoming telephone calls. In addition, a trackball
is integrated into the right-hand steering wheel spoke. Inspired by computer operating, this
element allows the driver to control an impressively wide range of processes. For example, to
navigate through the menu levels the driver turns the trackball horizontally, while vertical
movements allow him/her to scroll up and down lists. The driver then selects the desired
function with a press of the trackball. With selected functions such as in-car internet, the
driver uses his thumb to move the cursor around the display in any direction.
The graphics in the colour display of the Centre Speedo are more diverse, higher quality
and sharper than ever. High-resolution 3D graphics open up new possibilities in the
need-based selection of functions using the trackball and display. According on the driverís
preference and the driving situation, particularly relevant displays and alerts are moved
into the foreground, while the remaining status displays remain visible on a display level
further back. This makes it significantly easier to move quickly and intuitively between
the navigation map display, music programme selection and telephone contacts list.
The navigation, communications and entertainment systems in the Mini Rocketman Concept
represent the consistent further development of the functions already available through Mini
Connected in current series-produced Mini cars. Intelligent connectivity turns the car into
a mobile element of the driverís personal lifestyle. Internet-based services for
communications, integrated navigation and an almost limitlessly expandable entertainment
programme play a key role in maximising driving fun, comfort and safety. With the control
elements developed for the Mini Rocketman Concept, personalised usage of these functions
reaches a new level. The removable control unit (for comfort and connectivity functions)
integrated into the Centre Speedo can be configured on a computer before the start of a
journey, enabling the driver to transfer new music files, a navigation destination and
contact details for mobile communications and internet usage into the vehicle with maximum
These innovative control systems allow driving fun in a Mini to become an integrated
component of the driverís personal lifestyle more than ever. Indeed, information, images,
data, contacts and media can be made available in digital form for mobile usage anywhere
Ė at home, at the workplace or while on the move. Known as the Mini Rocketman Concept,
the mobile control unit stores telephone numbers and email contacts, as well as
navigation data, internet addresses and full websites or messages from online social
networks, music files, photos and videos. This provides a direct route into the Mini for
additional sources of driving fun in the shape of new destinations, important contacts,
up-to-date information, exciting sounds and powerful images. In the opposite direction,
this extended connectivity can also enrich everyday life outside the car; for example, new
contact details from telephone calls or online connections can also be made available
outside the car via the Mini Rocketman Concept.
Mini Rocketman Concept: compact dimensions, new format, the usual driving fun
The Mini Rocketman Concept once again brings the traditional principles of the classic
Mini onto the road through the introduction of innovative ideas. The imagination of the
Mini design team enables them to transfer fundamental Mini features and values into a
new vehicle concept in untarnished form. As a vision of the urban mobility of tomorrow,
the Mini Rocketman Concept captures the imagination with its 'charisma', variability
and lifestyle-oriented functionality, and provides the ideal platform for agile and
efficient driving characteristics.
While the study showcases a new format, Mini still remains true to its past. More than
50 years ago BMCís first Mini triggered a revolution in the small car segment. The classic
Mini met the needs of urban mobility more comprehensively than any other vehicle before
it, while at the same time offering the driving fun and individual style that sealed its
The Mini Rocketman Concept offers a glimpse of how these features may look in the future.
Using innovative technology and imaginative solutions, the study reflects the brandís
expertise in the development of vehicle concepts producing interior versatility within
minimal exterior dimensions Ė and all while delivering driving enjoyment.