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Mini Crossover Concept: the first photos

Published: 09 September 2008

Here's the first look at the new Mini Crossover Concept – proof, at last, that BMW will indeed build a 4x4, SUV-lite version of the Mini. The Crossover concept car will be shown at the 2008 Paris motor show (where else?) and previews the production Mini SUV due in 2010.

Mini Crossover Concept: the first official pictures


Pore over these first official photographs carefully, because the new Mini Crossover Concept shows closely how the trendy brand's new SUV is shaping up and also reveals how the future face of the Mini brand is evolving. That gigantic grille and sweptback headlamps point to a new design direction for the most famous of British small-car brands.

And if you thought the new, BMW-built Mini was big, wait until you eyeball this 4x4 version. It's the first Mini to break the four-metre barrier at 4050mm long, 1830mm wide and 1598mm tall. For reference, that's six inches wider and taller than a Clubman.

Uh-oh... Mad Mini doors alert!


Yep, you've spotted the Mini Crossover Concept's party piece. Look at me! I've got even sillier doors than a Clubman! The new show star has a single Clubman-esque van door at the back, and goes a stage further with asymmetric rear doors: the right rear door is conventionally hinged while the lefthand side door slides out and back, like on the Peugeot 1007.

However, CAR understands that conventional doors are more likely on the production Mini SUV, which will be built by Magna Steyr in Austria in time for sales in 2010. Five doors will be standard, to trim costs and make this a Mini that you really could use every day.

Click 'Next' to read more on the new Mini Crossover Concept car

Remind me of the new Mini SUV's positioning...


This is the fourth variant of the new, BMW-brood Mini, following on from the R56 hatchback (city urbanites), R52 convertible (fresh young daisies in need of an airing) and R55 Clubman (early adopters and door fetishists only). The company wants to position the Mini crossover as the acceptable face of the SUV breed: a smaller, lighter 4x4 with lashings of Mini style and technology to keep the mpg up and the g/km down.

Although nothing has been announced about the Mini Crossover's powertrain, we know it will share much of the running gear with the existing Mini range. That means a choice of 1.4- and 1.6-litre petrol engines developing between 95bhp and 175bhp in turbocharged Cooper S form, plus a PSA joint-developed 1.6 diesel mustering 110bhp.

All will be allied to Mini's Minimalism tech – the brand's own version of the BMW mothership's Efficient Dynamics, including stop-start, intelligent alternator control and the like. Click here to read how our long-term test Mini Cooper S is faring with the fuel-saving gadgets.

Will the new Mini 4x4 go off road?


Hardly. But we know that four-wheel drive will be offered on the new Mini Crossover, as it is on the concept car, so it will have some claim to decent traction. Perfect for scrambling over those particularly nasty kerbs in Waitrose car parks.

Of rather more interest to most buyers will be the practical touches applied to this slightly bigger Mini. The 2606mm wheelbase will free up more space than any previous model, and the concept pictured here has four single armchair seats. The back pair slide back and forth by 13cm to juggle room for limbs and luggage and Mini is promising a raft of family friendly details.

There are no stats confirming boot space yet, but a single, side-hinged rear door swings open to reveal a decent sized boot. Shame the entrance is blocked by the wide hinge mechanism visible in these first official photos.

Let's hope our source is right and the production Mini SUV gets a normal tailgate; side-hinged doors like the Toyota RAV4's only ever annoy in our experience...

Click 'Next' to read about the designer of the Mini Crossover Concept car

The Mini design boss speaks


Mini's chief designer Gert Hildebrand has briefed us on the positioning of the new Mini 4x4. He told CAR: 'The Crossover can be summed up by the number four: four doors, four-wheel drive, four seats, more than four metres long and, of course, it’s our fourth variation of the Mini.'

He talks about stretching the Mini DNA on this car; it's a classic case of pushing boundaries with a concept car. Which explains the asymmetric design thing going on.

Hildebrand says that he intended to give the driver's side of the Crossover concept a sportier, coupe feel, while the passenger side feels like more of an SUV. Reminds us of the 2000 BMW X Coupe, that mixed-up coupe-cum-SUV that heralded a whole world of change at Planet BMW.

But come on, this nonsense won't make production!


Probably not, true. We asked Hildebrand the acid question. 'It would be illogical to do a production car with such a door layout and instrument panel, wouldn’t it?' he replies candidly. 'The Crossover pushes the design boundaries, preparing the public for what may come.'

You will be able to read our full interview with Hildebrand – and see our exclusive photoshoot – in the forthcoming new November 2008 issue of CAR Magazine, out on 24 September 2008.

And inside the cabin of the new Mini Crossover?


This is the Mini where practicality is king. Yes, we know the Clubman is the current most practical Mini, but calling that an estate car is likely to land you up in hot water with the advertising authorities.

The Crossover concept has a central spine that runs the length of the car, allowing different cupholders or iPod docks to be clipped on. This car is aimed very much at young, hip urbanites, so we'll doubtless hear the usual drivel about lifestyle accessories and the like. You have been warned.

But the big news up front is the Centre Globe – a laser-etched world display on the centre console that can cleverly show different information to passenger and driver. So you can be receiving sat-nav guidance while your neighbour is surfing the web. An interesting idea, but one that isn't destined for production cars quite yet...

Click 'Next' to read when we'll next see the new Mini Crossover Concept car

What next for the Mini Crossover Concept?


Our sources suggest that the Crossover faces a similar fate to the Clubman's concept forebears. That means a world tour schedule of a duration that would worry Madonna. We predict that different versions will be wheeled out at motor shows around the globe, with a new paint job here and the odd extra accessory there.

Remember the ludicrous Clubman concept complete with an English picnic hamper designed for the Tokyo motor show? That's the sort of thing that's in store for the new Mini Crossover Concept, we hear...

When does the real Mini 4x4 arrive?


The PR machine drip-feed will stop come the 2009 Frankfurt motor show, when we'll finally see the finished thing. Sales of the production car will then kick off in 2010, with prices tipped to start at around £18,000.

This will be the first Mini built overseas for generations; the main Oxford, England factory is running at close to capacity producing around 220,000 cars annually – which is why BMW is outsourcing it to Magna Steyr's Austrian factory.

You will be able to read our full interview with Hildebrand – and see our exclusive photoshoot – in the forthcoming new November 2008 issue of CAR Magazine, out on 24 September 2008

Love the new Mini Crossover? A Mini too far? Click 'Add your comment' and let us know

What next for the Mini Crossover Concept?


Our sources suggest that the Crossover faces a similar fate to the Clubman's concept forebears. That means a world tour schedule of a duration that would worry Madonna. We predict that different versions will be wheeled out at motor shows around the globe, with a new paint job here and the odd extra accessory there.

Remember the ludicrous Clubman concept complete with an English picnic hamper designed for the Tokyo motor show? That's the sort of thing that's in store for the new Mini Crossover Concept, we hear...

When does the real Mini 4x4 arrive?


The PR machine drip-feed will stop come the 2009 Frankfurt motor show, when we'll finally see the finished thing. Sales of the production car will then kick off in 2010, with prices tipped to start at around £18,000.

This will be the first Mini built overseas for generations; the main Oxford, England factory is running at close to capacity producing around 220,000 cars annually – which is why BMW is outsourcing it to Magna Steyr's Austrian factory.

You will be able to read our full interview with Hildebrand – and see our exclusive photoshoot – in the forthcoming new November 2008 issue of CAR Magazine, out on 24 September 2008

Love the new Mini Crossover? A Mini too far? Click 'Add your comment' and let us know

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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