Mini Beachcomber Concept (2009) first official pictures

Published: 15 December 2009

This funky beach-biased concept car has just appeared at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show in January. Called the Mini Beachcomber Concept, this flight-of-fancy Moke-inspired show car gives us our first glimpse of how Mini’s production-spec 4×4 crossover will look at launch – we’ll see the real car at the Geneva motor show in March 2010 ahead of an autumn UK launch.

Talk me round the Mini Beachcomber Concept

This four-seater, four-wheel-drive machine has been designed without doors or a conventional roof, so that its occupants are not cut off from the outside world. Not a bad idea, if you live in southern France… The real car will of course have four doors, a hatchback boot (discount the barn door Clubman disguise on the prototypes), and a normal roof – but today’s concept is dropping heavy hints about real design elements such as the headlights and butch stance of the production Mini Crossover.

Inside the Beachcomber concept is a Center Speedo console for navigation and audio systems, while sited on either side of the steering wheel is a compass and an artificial horizon, so you know exactly where you are when you off road.

Carried over from the 2008 Mini Crossover Concept is a Center Rail to which armrests, music players, storage boxes and other auxiliaries can be attached – a clever character detail that dominates the interior. Expect something similar in production.

What if I want to drive the Mini Beachcomber Concept in poor weather or in Britain?

Luckily, soft and hard-top roofs and detachable plastic door panels – which Mini claims can be fitted in ‘an instant’ – are provided with the Beachcomber for combating both the elements and pesky carjackers.

Other design nuances to distinguish the Mini 4×4 from regular estate agent fodder include long-travel suspension and 17-inch alloy wheels with off-road tyres, which raise the car’s ride height in line with its more robust design philosophy. The inspiration for this concept car is clearly the utilitarian 1964 Mini Moke.

>> Click ‘Next’ below to read more about the 2010 Mini Beachcomber Concept

The new Mini Beachcomber Concept doesn’t look very safe. What if I roll it?

Mini has thought of that and so the Beachcomber features a rollover frame and strengthened A- and D-pillars, as well as a lateral support element at the rear of the car. However, what you are supposed to do if you take a wrong turn down Brixton High Street and a group of armed madmen runs at you through the open doorway is anyone’s guess. Run maybe.

Is the Mini Beachcomber Concept practical?

Practicality is one area in which a lack of doors actually pays dividends, claim the car’s creators. In addition to avoiding the time-consuming action of opening and closing them, their absence means that loading luggage is decidedly easy. Keeping said luggage inside the car may be less so, however.

At the rear of the Beachcomber is a vertically split tailgate, the right-hand portion of which can stay open on the move so that, Mini says, luggage can be left ‘extending out of the car at the rear’. Perfect for windsurfing dudes, then.

Of course, all this concept car stuff is a bit of nonsense to drum up some attention for Mini ahead of the production Mini 4×4’s official unveiling in March 2010. Give this car some doors, a roof and boot and it’s pretty close to what will go on sale, CAR understands.

But is it a step in the right direction for Mini? To give the car further cred, it’s expected that Mini will take its new 4×4 rallying, and the WRC team could be run by Prodrive. Suddenly the new Mini Crossover sounds rather more exciting.

>> Click ‘Add your comment’ below and let us know what you think of the Mini Beachcomber Concept