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Mini Rocketman concept car is tiny, unfolds like a pop-up book

BMW's set to right the lardy wrongs of the current new Mini with the Mini Rocketman -- a concept car that stays true(ish) to the 1959 original's petite exterior dimensions.

Rory Reid

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The current Mini is a fabulous car, but let's face it -- it's a lie. There's absolutely nothing 'mini' about a vehicle that (with its wing mirrors fully extended) is wider than a Volkswagen Golf and -- in its Countryman guise -- almost as long as a Ford Focus.

BMW's set to right this lardy wrong with the Mini Rocketman -- a concept car that stays more faithful to the original car's petite exterior dimensions. Sort of.

Alright, the Mini Rocketman is 3.4m long and 1.9m wide, so it's over a foot (0.3m) longer and nearly two feet (0.5m) wider than the 1959 original, but that's the price we pay for airbags, crumple zones, anti-lock brakes and an engine that isn't a hamster running round a wheel.

Inside, the car gets a 3+1 seating arrangement, with two seats in the front, one full size passenger seat in the rear and a small bench big enough for luggage.

There's some unusual cabin tech inside, too. The car trades the joystick used to control navigation and entertainment systems in the current Mini for a trackball on the Mini Rocketman's steering wheel. It also packs an instrument display protruding from the steering wheel, which serves as an engine rev counter and computer display.

If the inside seems crazier than William Shatner, wait til you cast your eyes on some of its exterior detailing. The Mini Rocketman's doors are bizarre double-hinged affairs that swing open normally at first, before a second hinge a few inches away from the first is also activated.

Curiously, the Mini Rocketman has hoop-style protruding brake lights that don't actually illuminate. Instead, they project the brake and indicator beams directly on to the car's bodywork using high-output LEDS.

Want more? Have a butcher's at the LED lighting on the greenhouse-style roof, or the amazing rear door, which is hinged in the centre of the car's roof. Its rear window flips upwards to provide quick access to dump a few small bags of shopping or, if you need better access, the entire boot slides open like a giant drawer.

Have a gander through the photos in our gallery above or -- better still -- peep the videos we've embedded below for a proper look at this thing. We're aiming to go hands-on with the car on 3 March when it's unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.

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