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COMING SOON: The MINI SUV

November 21st, 2008 · No Comments

While most of the media about MINI these days has to do with the impending MINI E, which may well be the smallest green vehicle marketed by a conventional car company, there’s other news as well. For example, this year also saw the introduction of the first MINI convertible, and there’s a rumor that a diesel-powered MINI may come to the United States.

Also forthcoming from this very British subdivision of BMW is the carmaker’s first SUV. It’s called the MINI Crossover Concept, but don’t go rushing out in search of car loans just yet, because it won’t go into production before 2010, even though prototypes disguised in scary paint jobs have been spied on the streets of England.

Despite the SUV references, and the fact that this is the largest MINI yet designed, this 4×4 car is still only 4 meters (about 156 inches) long, putting it just a hair longer than the MINI Cooper Clubman that debuted earlier this year, but keeping it about 20 inches shorter than a Honda Civic sedan.

Aside from the size, other innovations in this new MINI, which was first seen at the 2008 Paris Auto Show this summer, will be the marque’s first for-wheel drive, making it a major selling point for aficionados in places where there’s actual winter. The concept pictures show single seats in the back, and most analysts believe that will change to a more conventional rear bench on the production models of the car. The concept version also has 3D touch displays.

Other details of the concept car that may be changed for production include the asymmetrical door configuration, which includes two short front-hinged doors on the right side of the car, and a longer front-hinged door plus a parallel-opening shorter door on the left (the latter at the rear of the car.) As well, the hatch is designed to open from the right, and incorporates a retractable window, to make hauling longer items more possible.

Neither platforms nor power-trains have been confirmed, but it’s generally assumed that this car will be a variation of the MINI Clubman’s design, though it features a modified MacPherson-strut front end and a tweaked multilink rear suspension that cause the body to sit higher than usual, though this is less obvious on the concept version because it was shown with 18-inch wheels. Experts are assuming that production models will ship with smaller wheels.

As to engines, again, it is expected that one of those used in the MINI Cooper Clubman will be used.
It should be noted that this car is being listed as a MINI Crossover Concept, at present, and does not have the Cooper name anywhere, which may be intentional, as a bid to the die-hard traditionalists who abhor the thought of MINI making an SUV.

Tags: Concept Cars · Mini · MINI Crossover Concept · Mini SUV

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