MINI to launch Superleggera roadster by 2019

MINI is going after the MX-5 with a new roadster.

MINI has reportedly given the green light to its Mazda MX-5 fighting Superleggera sports car. The MINI roadster is expected to make its market debut in about four years.

MINI execs had been on the fence about approving a low-volume product like the Superleggera, but the roadster will be positioned as a halo car intended to rejuvenate sales at the British marque. MINI head Peter Schwarzenbauer insists the Superleggera will be unlike the company's current convertible offerings.

"They don't compare. The Superleggera is a serious sports car,” he told Autocar.

The Superleggera will ride on the same UKL modular architecture that underpins the current Cooper Hardtop. That means the Superleggera will have to battle the rear-wheel drive MX-5 with a front-wheel drive layout.

However, MINI is also planning a hybrid version of the Superleggera that would give the sports car four-wheel drive. One insider described the system as a junior BMW i8.

"The system is quite similar, although it has been turned 180 degrees to site the combustion engine at the front and the electric motor at the rear,” the unnamed MINI source is quoted as saying. "It also provides the scope for on-demand four-wheel drive and electric drive up to 50mph.”

The hybrid system destined for the MINI Superleggera will first debut in the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer, followed by the second-generation MINI Countryman, due out in 2017.

On the sling front, expect heavy influences from the Superleggera concept, including a long nose and short deck.

If all progresses as planned, the MINI Superleggera will be ready for a market debut in 2019.

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