We’ve already seen it in the November 2008 issue of CAR, but Paris marked the motor show debut of the Mini Crossover Concept – a pumped-up four-wheel drive Mini that goes on sale in 2009.
As journalists crammed together in what looked like a trendy nightclub, a video of two Chemical Brother-style hipsters driving the Crossover through a warehouse played behind the covered over concept before – ta-da! – some heavily tattooed type swung down from the rafters to remove the covers and reveal the actual pair inside the actual car. Clever. Cue creaking link to a suited Ian Robertson, ‘member of the board of management of BMW AG, sales and marketing’. Very streetwise.
Tell me more about the Mini Crossover concept
With the world downsizing, the timing couldn’t be better for a Mini soft-roader. US sales of existing Minis are up 25 percent in the last nine months alone, and 180,000 Minis have been sold this year so far. The Clubman – the concept’s closest sibling – has accounted for a fifth of those sales, so chances are this mini SUV will do strong business. Expect the usual range of 1.6 diesel and petrol 1.6-litre naturally aspirated and turbocharged units when it arrives in 2009.
What about rivals? The Crossover will be attacked from all sides – from above by the Land Rover LRX and from below by the Panda 4x4 and even the trendy Kia Soul. The Nissan Qashqai might not have the same cache, but it should come pretty close on price. Sensibly, the Nissan also offers four-wheel drive as an option, as will the Mini.
What else is new on the Mini stand?
CAR's verdict: Mini at the Paris motor show 2008
It’s ironic that a bigger Mini fits perfectly with the downsizing zeitgeist. But it is all relative and if the Crossman/Colorado/whatever-they-call-it gets more Americans out of lardy SUVs, that can only be a good thing. Let’s hope Mini sees sense and offers a front-wheel drive version too.
CAR's Mini stand score: 4/5
Click here for up to the minute Paris motor show 2008 live reports
Click here for the previews and review: Guide to all cars