By Sophie Williamson-Stothert

Mini has set its heart on claiming the ultimate roadster title, as it plans to take on Mazda’s MX-5 with a production version of its Superleggera Vision concept.

Destined to hit the roads in 2019, the new two-seater will be based on the current Mini hatchback and was first revealed at the 2014 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Italy.

According to Autocar, the new sports car will be powered by a range of three- and four-cylinder petrol and diesel units, which are already used in the Mini line-up. The 1.5-litre engine is expected to offer 134bhp in the entry-level Cooper while the 2.0-litre motor in the range-topping John Cooper Works edition will develop around 227bhp.

Unlike the rear-wheel-drive MX-5, the Superleggera is expected to use a front-wheel-drive setup, with an option of four-wheel-drive available on more powerful versions. Mini plans to introduce a new petrol-electric plug-in hybrid version, providing the basis for a four-wheel-drive 216bhp system, with Mini describing the new roadster model as a junior BMW i8.

Speaking to Autocar, Mini boss Peter Schwarzenbauer was keen to distance the new roadster from previous Mini two-seaters, including the now defunt Mini Coupe. “They don’t compare," he said. "The Superleggera is a serious sports car."

Can't wait until 2019? Search for your own Mini Coupe or Mazda MX-5.

Chris Lloyd


July 16, 2015