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Motor Mouth articles 2009

New coupé should be strangled at birth

The ugly sister: the new MINI Coupé Concept

EXACTLY half a century on from the unveiling of the original Mini, the brand’s new owners BMW are preparing to give birth to a monster.

The two-seater MINI Coupé Concept is designed to be ‘the most dynamic and agile MINI ever built’ and is due to be displayed at the Frankfurt Motor Show on 17th September.

The very fact that it is still designated a concept car means it is by no means a certainty to be built in numbers and go on sale.

BMW, though, are apparently whispering in the ears of anyone willing to listen that it may reach the showrooms in a couple of years’ time.

It looks to be targeted at the Audi TT market, which is also about to be invaded by the new Peugeot RCZ, and it certainly borrows something from its rivals’ shape.

But the MINI looks, from the many pictures BMW have released, like the deformed sibling, the scary one that should be locked away in a cobwebbed room somewhere deep in the bowels of the house.

To say that it has met with a mixed reception is an understatement. Car enthusiasts have screeched in horror and some are accusing its makers of cynically trying to squeeze every last drop out of the stupendously successful MINI brand.

It looks to me like the nightmare love child of a beautiful young aristocratic maiden and the Hunchback of Notre Dame and I reckon Frankfurt should be its debut and its funeral.

Having said that, there’s no doubt that, if it does end up in production, the Coupé will be a very capable and sporty performer, even if it will have to come complete with a very large paper bag with which to hide it from sensitive eyes.

BMW say it will be an authentic sports car, powered by the acclaimed 1.6-litre turbocharged engine found in the current John Cooper Works models, and with good fuel economy and low emissions.

It will also doubtless be great fun to drive, as long as you can bear the crowds of passers-by clutching their mouths and their stomachs as you pass by. It’s a car that looks like it’s been in an accident and come off second best.    

BMW tell us: “With a Crossover model in the final stages of development and Hatch, Clubman and Convertible models currently on the roads in nearly 80 countries worldwide, MINI aims to offer a varied and exciting range of small premium cars to customers in the coming years.”

All of which suggests that the Coupé really will happen. Shame.

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