The new MINI isn’t very mini, and newer products like the MINI Countryman have pushed the boundaries in terms of size, but here’s an interesting concept bound for Geneva – one that’s actually mini. Curiously named Rocketman, MINI’s latest idea harks back to the classic Mini in terms of its exterior dimensions.

At 3.419 metres long, the Rocketman Concept not much longer than the much loved 3.05 m 1959 original (11ft 3in next to the original’s 10ft). It’s much wider however at 1,907 mm including the exterior mirrors, and stands 1,398 mm tall. That’s a larger footprint than the Toyota iQ. Like the baby Toyota, it’s a three-door hatchback that’s a 3+1-seater – the sole “real” rear seat is behind the front passenger, the other “+1” seat is better used as extra storage room for all but the shortest journeys.

Wide-opening doors with double-hinge joints that pivot outwards and integrated sills facilitate entry. The split two-part tailgate consists of one section which is attached to the roof and opens very high and a lower section which extends out 350 mm from the body in the form of a drawer.

Design wise, the Rocketman’s profile and shape is entirely familiar; even the round headlamps are the same size as the MINI hatch, making them stand out even more on a smaller body. A new feature is the light ring inside the headlamp, which adds to the cute factor as well. From the side, one can see three layers – body, wraparound greenhouse and the capping roof. The windows taper slightly as they extend back towards the rear.

The rear lights have a trapezoidal stirrup design where all light functions are integrated. Using projector technology, the lamp assembly projects the lights onto the car body. The high-output LED units ensure that even this indirect illumination concept produces enough intensity. The roof is also a light show. The full-surface glass unit is segmented by illuminated braces to recreate the Union Jack flag.

In addition to multifunction buttons on the steering wheel, the current MINI has a joystick on the center console. By contrast, the Rocketman Concept concentrates all controls on the steering wheel, which has buttons on the left spoke for frequently used functions and a trackball on the right spoke. The latter can be rolled to scroll and pressed to select.

Large gallery after the jump.

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