Dolce Britannia

The Canadian International AutoShow is like a confectioner, with tantalizing treats everywhere you look. And one especially delightful imported sugarplum making its Canadian debut this February was the electrically powered MINI Superleggera Vision, a modern interpretation of an open-top two-seater created by a partnership between MINI and Touring Superleggera, a design and coach-building house based in Milan known for its light sports car bodies made from large hand-shaped aluminium sheets.

A sporty, elegant and dynamic exterior that imbues classic race car elements merges beautifully with an eye-popping interior. Only a surrounding shoulder line in polished aluminium visually separates the two, creating an effect of a tan and black leather bubble floating in a sea of Como Blue (an exterior paint colour specially developed for this car). In the look and feel of its materials — untreated aluminium sheeting, tube-shaped structural elements — the interior celebrates the tradition and essence of classic coachwork construction.

Of course new technology is also embraced in the less-is-more aesthetic. The centre instrument in the middle of the dash panel includes a touch-sensitive control screen and two circular instruments with metal surrounds on the right. In addition to an analog clock on the far right, the second framed instrument activates a camera which is integrated between the driver and front passenger seat. Perhaps most striking is the dashboard itself, created from a single aluminium sheet that has been left in the state the automobile body would look like without a paint finish.

Below the shoulder, covered in brown leather in the classical colour Sabbia, the materials are kept simple. The structural elements in the doors form a Union Jack, discreetly indicating MINI’s British origins, and together with the centre console are finished in high-gloss black chrome, which pop from the aluminium surfaces and the raw, matt textured paint finish in the footwell area. The sporty bucket seats and three-spoke steering wheel are reminiscent of bygone MINI motor racing achievements and are covered in black leather. Small spots of Misty Magenta provide accentuations in two hot air outlets under the instrument panel and inside the door openings.

Like a true European bonbon, the MINI Superleggera Vision provides a touch of Italian flair in tongue-in-cheek MINI style.