Mini’s new SUV is still a year away and we’re left having to speculate at how the new fun-sized 4x4 will look. This is one of the more credible artist’s impressions we’ve seen – showing a jacked-up version of the Clubman ‘estate’.
CAR’s design sources suggest a beefed-up look to distinguish the soft-roader – with raised ride height, extra body cladding and perhaps some special jewellery like the ‘exploration lights’ built into the Clubman’s ribbed roofline (they call it the Duneline). Mini design director Gert Hildebrand recently told CAR Magazine Online that the SUV would be closely related to the current range, but refused to be drawn on details.
Mini SUV: a more responsible 4x4
Our image depicts a Cooper S version of the Mini SUV, which would run the same 175bhp 1.6 turbo as the rest of the Mini range. To quell fears over the anti-4x4 sentiment sweeping Europe, Mini will naturally fit its range of fuel-supping measures, including stop-start to cut the ignition at a standstill and intelligent alternator control that only charges the battery when needed, disengaging when not required. And you can bet that the frugal PSA-sourced diesel will be the best seller.
It’s not all show and no go, either. The new Mini will have four-wheel drive; it’s rumoured to be developed by transmission experts Getrag and some spyshots have shown what look like rear driveshafts on Mini prototypes on test in Germany.
Here in 2009
With capacity at Mini’s Oxford factory running close to its maximum, BMW is outsourcing production of its smallest 4x4. This will be the first modern-era Mini to be built abroad, at the Magna Steyr plant in Austria. Until recently, it built the X3 for Munich, but it has lost that contract as BMW takes the next-gen model inhouse.
We’ll see the Mini SUV in 2009, although production versions could take longer. Remember that endless series of concepts for the Clubman? Well, we can expect more teasing to prepare us for the 4x4. And apparently stories claiming it will be called Crossman are wide of the mark. ‘What sort of name is that?’ retorted one Mini manager we asked. ‘It will not be called Crossman.’