Under all that weird metalwork is the new Crossman, a name recently let slip by a Mini official. This is Mini’s new SUV, or rather SAV as the Brit-based company prefers to think of its latest car as a sports activity vehicle. In other words it won’t be a mud plugger.
The car in our pictures is a chassis mule allowing BMW engineers to develop the SAV without the worry of disguising prototypes. Initial development work was carried out under Clubman bodies, but this mule means items like the lights can be placed in their final production position.
What we can’t also see through the bumblebee bodywork are the rear driveshafts – there’s a very clear black sheet to keep out our prying eyes.
This will be the first four-wheel drive Mini though, because the market demands it. Power in the Crossman will come from 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines. The Mini’s 1.4-litre unit didn’t make it into then Clubman, so don’t expect it to be present in the heavier Crossman either.
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And as well as a switch to four-wheel drive the Crossman will also be the first of BMW’s Minis to be built outside of the near-capacity Plant Oxford. Production will be carried out by Austrian contractor Magna Steyr now that X3 production is being brought back in house by BMW.
The Crossman is being developed in conjunction with the BMW X1, and as such will be a traditional five-door, possibly with a split tailgate. No suicide doors here.
Base prices look set to top £20,000 for the top-spec Crossman, while the BMW X1 should cost over £22,000 using 1-series engines. Expect both cars to be launched in the second half of 2009.