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MINI Concept Tokyo
Class and practicality... the fashionable way

Experimenting with access and storage solutions.

31st October 2005.

After the success of the MINI Concept at the 2005 Frankfurt motor show last month, MINI is launching a new interpretation of the classic Mini Traveller at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show (22 October to 6th Nov.), reflecting the Japanese appreciation for British taste.

The MINI Concept Tokyo features a new roof and cargo box system, as well as a new interior green colour scheme, alloy design and indicator lights sporting the Union Jack.

The concept is experimenting with access and storage solutions. The roof system houses a table and two chairs for impromptu picnics and weary guests at cricket matches. The cargo box in the rear of the car can be taken out and attached to the side window when open to create a table for serving tea and scones.

The roof system houses a table and two chairs for impromptu picnics.

MINI went on sale in Japan in 2002 and is the fifth biggest market for the car after UK, US, Germany and Italy. MINI is on sale in over 70 countries worldwide and year-to-date sales have increased by 12 per cent to 159,413 in 2005.

Right from the start, Mini was the ideal companion for trendsetters. In the early ’60s, a special model emphasising outdoor activities, sportsmanship, the opportunity to travel to the country with your friends, and the quest for travelling afar joined that sophisticated British lifestyle: The Mini Traveller with its extended wheelbase, a slightly raised roofline, and practical doors at the rear was exactly the right companion for all these requirements. A car combining chic with extra space.

Forty-five years after the debut of the Mini Traveller in September 1960, MINI, taking up the motto of this year’s Tokyo Motor Show – “Driving Tomorrow” – launched a design study with innovative ideas: MINI Concept Tokyo interprets the basic philosophy of the “travelling” Englishman in new and very emotional style at the beginning of the 21st century, at the same time creating a powerful link to the original Mini and that unique British heritage.

Sports Utility Box on to the rear side window.

New Surfaces and Materials - Satellite Silver serving as the interchanging silver and grey multi-layer paintwork, white and green leather with constantly changing surfaces and a different feel ranging from rough leather all the way to the seat bottoms and backrests in Chesterfield pattern, innovative glass-fibre tissue and a carbon look on the inner door panels as well as metallic glass-fibre optics in the footwells – all this shows what travelling in British style means to MINI at the beginning of the 21st century.

Like the original Mini Traveller, the MINI Concept Car for the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show is designed to give up to four passengers everything they need for every kind of adventure. This is based on new ideas in using the car’s space and storage areas, ranging from the Cargo Box in the luggage compartment all the way to the freely hovering driver and front passenger seats.

Stylish door handle (top), characteristic joints and seams around the side direction (middle), and (bottom) multifunctional rims are made up of a lightweight carrier section complete with the basic rim and tyre. The carrier wheel features numerous bolting points and mounts allowing the driver to fit easily exchangeable, customised design elements.

Exterior - Just like the “regular” MINI, MINI Concept Tokyo is "as small as possible and as big as necessary". Precisely this was the particular challenge facing the MINI Design Team, with MINI Concept Tokyo being a completely unique car all the way from its characteristic hexagon grille to the highly emotional rear doors.

The wheels moved all the way to the outside, the driver‘s and front passenger’s doors very long relative to the overall length of the car (more than 160 cm or 63´´), as well as the characteristic joints and seams around the side direction indicators all bear testimony to the enhanced and even more progressive design language of MINI Concept Tokyo. 

The diagonal seam between the side direction indicators and side door is an icon which has grown over the years, dating back to the welding seam on the original Mini. The roof, in turn, appears to be hovering in space thanks to the windows extending all round and the omission of a B-pillar, marking one of the unmistakable styling highlights of the Concept Car together with the door handles so typical of MINI.

The overall look of the car is firm and smooth, a car with class and character, a car both muscular and elegant in appearance, a car with an extra-high roof adding functional benefits to its unique look.

The headlights are integrated into the body, blending with the engine compartment lid, while the hexagonal grille is made in one single piece.

Wheel arches and radiator grille forming one homogeneous component.

The sporting look is further enhanced by the engine compartment lid hinged at the front, the wheel arches and radiator grille forming one homogeneous component free of seams or joints together with the engine compartment lid.

Like on a classic sports car, this entire unit swivels to the front and upwards when opened, the headlights remaining in position. Access to the engine compartment with the lid open is therefore perfect. The wheel arches and the entire area around the engine are painted consistently in Satellite Silver, with the power unit being presented almost the same way as in a display cabinet.

MINI Concept Tokyo comes with the engine of the MINI Cooper S, clearly characterised by the additional air intake on the engine compartment lid and the twin tailpipes.

Mini Traveller 1960 

The four-seater Mini Estate with its extra-large luggage compartment  debuted in September 1960 as the Austin Seven Countryman and Morris Mini Traveller. With the Mini being referred to as a “Traveller”, this model was aimed at a target group characterised at the time by a new, active lifestyle.

Apart from the typical elements of Mini design and the two rear doors, another highlight of these special versions of the Mini is the wooden panels clearly distinguishing the car to the rear of the B-pillar.

Starting in 1961, the Morris Mini Traveller was also available without this wooden finish outside of the British market, with the home market following this example in 1962.

In 1969, the Mini Clubman Estate replaced the Traveller and Countryman, the various versions of the Mini Estate amounting to total sales between 1960 and 1982 of more than 400, 000 units.

In technical terms the Mini Estate was based on the two-seater Mini Van introduced in January 1960.

Compared with the Mini Saloon (the original Mini), exterior length was up from 3,050 to 3,300 millimetres (120.0 to 129.9´´) with wheelbase increasing by 110 millimetres to 2,140 millimetres (4.33 to 84.25´´) and the roofline being raised by 10 millimetres or 0.39´´. 

Featuring a reinforced suspension and able to carry a heavier load, the Mini Estate met all the requirements made of an elegant transporter, go-kart-like driving characteristics making this by far the most agile and nimble small van of its kind. Proceeding from the same technical basis, a Mini Pick-Up was also available from 1961.

With this concept, MINI is introducing a new way to improve the process of entering and exiting the car as well as loading and unloading in confined space: All four doors come on intelligent suspension units with parallelogram kinematics, the doors swivelling only slightly to the side, but as far front as possible in one single movement. This minimises the space required around the car for opening the doors, while nevertheless giving the user generous access to the interior.

Long Side Doors - Parallelogram kinematics thus turns the sometimes confined opening angle 
of long coupé doors into an advantage, particularly as the side doors on the Concept Car are more than 160 centimetres (63 inches) long. Like on all MINIs, the side windows are frameless. The omission of the B-pillar further accentuates the dynamic overall look and improve access to the rear seats

The two side windows at the rear, in turn, come in split sections merging smoothly into the front side windows. To open the rear side windows, all you do is press a button and the front section will disappear under electric power beneath the rear section. This principle of split side windows at the rear, incidentally, has been carried over from the classic Traveller and is now re-interpreted on MINI Concept Tokyo.

The long wheelbase increases the space available at the rear, with the same short body overhangs as all other MINIs. The two wide-opening rear doors hinged at the sides, in turn, make loading easy and convenient. The completely retracting windows on the rear doors again without a frame ensure easy access to the luggage compartment, without having to even open the doors.

Mini Concept Tokyo Cargo Box.

Behind these rear doors, MINI Concept Tokyo offers space for taking up cargo in the luggage compartment and in the Cargo Box integrated into the floor of the car. The Cargo Box is a helpful “butler” in handling luggage both small and large. To ensure easy loading, the Cargo Box moves out conveniently at an angle from the luggage compartment – then you just place your shopping bags in the Box and let it move down again slowly into the rear section of the car.

The swivelling transparent cover on the Cargo Box serves, first, as a partition between the passenger area and the loading compartment and, second, as a wind deflector with the rear door windows open. The entire cover on top of the Cargo Box opens by 180° when required, coming to rest on the rear-seat backrests folded down. Then the cover can be pulled to the rear from this horizontal position, extending out between the rear doors for easy and convenient loading.

Opening up wide, the two rear doors allow convenient access to almost the entire cross-section of the interior, keeping the loading sill low.

Even on its roof, MINI Concept Tokyo offers new options – like a spur-of-the-moment picnic while on the road. So whatever you happen to have in your picnic basket – sushi, a tea party, or salt’n vinegar crisps – your table and two chairs are already on board: all you do is pull out the rear section of the cargo roof in front of the rear window and remove the round table and two chairs integrated in the roof. To facilitate this process, the rear edge of the cargo roof is designed as a handle for easy operation.

Multifunctional wheel rims - MINI Concept Tokyo comes with wheels in 10-spoke design and particularly sophisticated brass looks, the spokes with their cylindrical contours curved to the outside bearing a clear resemblance to the sports rims of the “regular” MINI Cooper S.

These multifunctional rims are made up of a lightweight carrier section complete with the basic rim and tyre. The carrier wheel features numerous bolting points and mounts allowing the driver to fit easily exchangeable, customised design elements.

The Sports Utility Box is a multifunctional storage compartment.

Sports Utility Box - Hang the matching Sports Utility Box on to the rear side window when opened, put in anything you would like to take along, and that’s it! The Sports Utility Box is a multifunctional, interchangeable storage compartment made of stamped leatherette. In its length and height it is a perfect fit for the rear side window when opened, making this exactly the right place for the Sports Utility Box.

To fit the Box in position, all you do is open the vertically split window (with the front section moving back electrically) and hang the lower section of the Sports Utility Box in the window opening.

Flaps on both sides of the Sports Utility Box ensure easy and practical loading and unloading both from outside and from the passenger compartment, also making it easy to pass through all kinds of objects. The flat section of the box extends back outside the car all the way to the C-pillar. The concept allows even convenient use of several Sports Utility Boxes at the same time, being fitted and used individually, depending on the user’s requirements.

Large (compared to exterior dimensions) and flat loading area.

Surfaces - MINI Concept Tokyo is taking a new approach not only in technical and functional terms, but also in the design and finish of the car’s surfaces, with the combination of surfaces in white, green and brass look.

Such reserved style is enhanced by the exceptional quality and innovative features of the materials used, and by the exterior colour constantly changing as a function of the beholder’s angle of vision while at the same time reflecting the area around the car. So, MINI Concept Tokyo is almost like a chameleon.

Paintwork - The exterior paintwork of the MINI Concept Car offers the dualism of metallic and non-metallic paint: Satellite Silver offers a glistening silver look in the light, while all areas not directly illuminated from the beholder’s perspective come out in a distinguished grey colour. This effect is achieved by applying the Silver Metallic paintwork in two layers, the colours of both layers varying slightly from point to point.

MINI Concept Tokyo uses Neoprene to offer effects in several respects: The sophisticated, silken-matt surface contrasts with the glossy Satellite Silver of the car’s body, with similar distinctive contrasts between the hard surfaces of the doors and wheel arches and the soft foam structure of the Neoprene contours: after being touched, the Neoprene elements automatically take on their original shape again.

Rotating Centre Speedo, MINI Cruise Mate complete with an info display for the navigation system and a tuner quite conceivable in future as the central instrument for controlling numerous functions within the car.

British Green and Brass - Despite its clear focus on the future of travelling in style, MINI Concept Tokyo – particularly through the materials and colours used – marks a clear link to the 46-year-old tradition of the brand and its British heritage. Dark British Green, for example, is reminiscent of the British history of motorsport starring the Mini as a multiple winner of the Monte Carlo Rally. A special brass look, in turn, conveys the traditional style and quality so typical of, say, a gentleman’s club in London.

Floating Elements - MINI Concept Tokyo reflects many features of the “regular” MINI’s interior design ranging from the evolutionary development of the large central instrument via the paddle switches typical of MINI all the way to the much larger, characteristic door panels on the driver’s and front passenger’s doors in their elliptic shape. And in the process the Concept Car still focuses on details, adding new touches here and there – such as the mobile phone integrated into the steering wheel as a “third spoke”.

The doors are very long relative to the cars's length.

Opening the driver’s and front passenger’s door, you will immediately enjoy the elegant and open impression conveyed by MINI Concept Tokyo: the driver’s and front passenger’s seats would appear to “hover” in space, being fitted at the inside directly on the front centre console by special load-bearing arms. This not only gives the rear passengers additional freedom for their feet, but also adds a particular touch of generosity to the floor area as a whole.

This impression is further enhanced by the slender structure of the seats reduced in principle to two bucket elements reminiscent of an open seashell. To give the rear-seat passengers convenient access to the seats at the  back, the front seats come with a unique Easy Entry System, moving forward electrically and at the same time swinging to the outside. This turns away the driver’s/front passenger’s backrests (instead of folding them forward) and ensures convenient access to the second row. Then the seats move back automatically to their original position.

As a further feature, the driver’s and front passenger’s seats come with a seat-integrated bolt system keeping the seat belts within perfect reach at all times and avoiding any obstruction when moving to the rear.

The driver’s and front passenger’s seats appear to “hover” in space.

Second Row - The long wheelbase of the car offers adequate space for two in the second row of seats. The front-seat backrests fold down individually, forming a flat surface together with the floor of the luggage compartment. This facilitates loading conditions from all sides, whether through the rear doors or the driver’s/front passenger’s doors, enabling the driver and passengers to place bags and other objects conveniently where they belong.

The extra-large and flat loading area is also perfect for larger objects and bulky cargo, and the centre armrest positioned horizontally between the two seats is integrated in the flat surface, offering an additional storage compartment.

Opening up wide, the two rear doors allow convenient access to almost the entire cross-section of the interior, keeping the loading sill particularly low. As a result, the passengers benefit from loading capacity quite acceptable for a car of this size, even with both rear-seat backrests in upright position.

Interior colour: from British Green to Bronze, depending on your angle.

Two things would obviously be inappropriate in MINI Concept Tokyo: luke-warm tea and luke-warm Coke. So showing its usual consistency, MINI Concept Tokyo offers special “on-board” service: the chrome rings around the air vents at the side fold down to form cupholders at exactly the right place inside the car. First, this keeps your drinks within easy reach at all times. Second, your Coke remains cool on hot days, with fresh air from the air conditioning flowing directly past the cupholders. And on cold winter days, warm air not only de-mists the side windows, but also keeps your tea at the right temperature.

The interior – Inside the car, white leather underlines the modern style of MINI Concept Tokyo and the generous space available, conveying a genuine touch of class. High-quality leather is featured in various types of surface finish, the headrests as well as the interior panels on the side and rear doors coming in grained cowhide. This structured leather contrasts with the white leather on the seat backrests and the steering wheel.

The inserts in the seat bottoms and seat backrests on all four seats, in turn, convey a touch of discreet “Britishness” combined with an equally convincing feeling of “vintage” origin: The leather used at these points is finished in the same way as the leather on the armchairs in the typical British club, featuring diamond-shaped sections sewn in Chesterfield style and thickly upholstered, with an additional touch added by stylish buttons. And last but not least, the interior colour is also “very British”, varying from British Green to Bronze, depending on your angle of vision.

The roof lining comes in extra soft Alcantara feeling almost like silk.

A feature of particular interest in optical terms and in its surface feel is the “hovering” dashboard – and another highlight is the use of “velvety” leather on the armrests in the side doors offering a particularly fine and gentle touch. Through its white colour alone, this leather accentuates the imaginative flair emanated by the green armrests, providing a striking contrast of colours. The roof lining comes in extra soft Alcantara feeling almost like silk.

The soft, natural surfaces in pure white are supplemented by cool-looking metallic surfaces and further highlights in British Green. Just one example is the aluminium-coated glass-fibre structure covering the elliptical lining inside the doors, another example being the carbon-fibre look of the footwells.

The centre armrest between the two seats is integrated in the flat surface.

The inserts in the interior floor, in turn, are made of light-green woven nylon, an innovative material so far only used in the production of furniture. Numerous other features within the interior are made of solid aluminium. The circular instruments and air vents, in turn, come with glossy chrome rings. And as the final highlight, the load-bearing arms on the seats are finished in a matt-brushed surface.

Rotating Speedo - The large central instrument on the MINI’s dashboard is acknowledged as a cult item by aficionados of design icons thrilled by these nimble athletes from Great Britain. Precisely this is why the rotating Centre Speedo in MINI Concept Tokyo is particularly self-confident as a genuine “point of action” boasting displays both front and rear.

Start/stop key unit with an integrated multifunctional interface.

The digital side presents the MINI Cruise Mate complete with an info display for the navigation system and a tuner quite conceivable in future as the central instrument for controlling numerous functions within the car.

Turned vertically by 180°, the Centre Speedo then presents an engraved world sphere on the back. And it presents both the road speed of the car as well as your current compass course in both positions.

Multifunctional Key Interface - The centre console “island” between the front seats forms the “backbone” of MINI Concept Tokyo: This central unit holds the driver’s and front passenger’s seats and boasts attractive elements in white china look, creating an unusual highlight also in visual terms.

This is also where all the “nerves” of the car come together, MINI Concept Tokyo possibly using a start/stop key unit with an integrated clock serving as a multifunctional interface between the user and the car. All you would then have to do is place the key on a control unit at the front of the centre console serving as a push button.

The MINI Design Team could well image using this little “genius” for all kinds of functions ranging from engine start/stop via individual adjustment functions in the car itself (seats, air conditioning, audio system) all the way to controlling the MP3 player.

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