Remember the 2011 Mini Rocketman concept? It was BMW flirting with the idea of building a Mini-branded city car, comparable in size to the Issigonis-designed original. But whether it was the financial case or crash-regulations that killed it, it’s gone awfully quiet since then.
Not to worry, because for all those that think a true Mini should actually be mini, a small British coach building firm – David Brown Automotive (he of the £600k, Jag XK-based Speedback GT, of which they’ve sold 12 to date) – has engineered a solution.
Built, or should that be re-built, by hand in DB’s (as he shall henceforth be known) brand new, 18,000 sq ft Silverstone factory (the Speedbacks were built in Coventry until now), it features all new de-seamed panels for a smoother look, addition structural beams to improve stiffness and extra sound proofing, so you might actually have a chance of hearing calls over the hands-free. The grille is aluminium, the rear lights LED and there are even Mustang-style puddle lights on the underside of the wing mirrors. Snazzy. All in, the whole thing weighs around 30kg heavier than the donor car.
Ah, did I say hands-free, in a Mini? Oh yes. DB has thoroughly pimped the interior with a built-in infotainment screen, a push button start, a four-speaker stereo system, USB sockets and remote central locking. Sculpted seats are leather-wrapped, natch, and a cup-holder has been added to the centre console. Whether any of this is actually a good thing we’ll leave you to decide.
There’s no arguing that 50 per cent more power (for around 75bhp) from the fully-rebuilt 1.3-litre engine is excellent news, as is the reconditioned four-speed gearbox, plus upgraded suspension and brakes.
Each customer is invited to choose the colour of their contrasting roof, their interior hue and wheel design. Though, if you can’t be bothered, two launch editions – ‘Inspired by Cafe Racers’ and ‘Inspired by Monte Carlo’, this latter option featuring a 92bhp engine – will be offered. Each of these special editions will get a run of just 25 units a piece, but DB is hoping on selling between 50 to 100 of the Minis overall each year.
So what do we think? Answers below.