MINI Roadster Concept – Click above for a high-res image gallery
Just because a company starts out Mini it doesn't necessarily mean it can't get even smaller. Such seems to be the case with BMW's more affordable UK outpost. Mini USA VP Jim McDowell spoke at the recent Geneva Motor Show about some of its upcoming plans. Although the current lineup is powered by a range of 1.6-liter inline-four cylinder engines, new challengers like the Audi A1 are going with even smaller powerplants.
This spring, European market Minis are getting engine upgrades including BMW's valvetronic system and direct injection for improved output and reduced fuel consumption and emissions. Those same improvements will be added to North American market Minis this fall in the 2011 models. The next round of upgrades will see smaller displacement engines coming, along with dual clutch transmissions.
McDowell also hinted that the upcoming roadster and coupe variants are just the beginning, with more performance-oriented models on the way. Even before that, McDowell expects the two-seat Minis to be the first roadsters to grab a significant chunk of the affordable sports car market from the long dominant Mazda MX-5. We like the Mini, but we'll be the judge of whether a front wheel drive car can really challenge the rear drive MX-5.