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Mini SUV (2010): the proof

Published: 08 April 2008

Think the Mini 4x4 will be a Clubman in high heels? Think again. Here’s concrete evidence of the four-wheel drive system in the shape of rear driveshafts and a rear diff, caught on a prototype photographed by our man in Germany.

Transmission specialist Getrag is rumoured to be helping BMW take the Mini on its latest adventure. Yet despite the off-road hardware, we do question how many of them actually make it further than the nearest urban kerb.

A small SUV… could Mini be on to something?

Sales of 4x4s are holding up well, despite the flak being heaped upon SUVs by political and climate change activists. Could it be that smaller off-roaders like the Fiat Panda 4x4 and Mini SUV could be coming of age, as buyers scramble for lower CO2 models with their go-anywhere image intact? We’ll see.

BMW will ensure reasonable stats by sticking to the Mini’s 1.6 engines:

• Cooper, 1.6 120bhp/118lb ft
• Cooper S, 1.6 175bhp/177lb ft
• Cooper D, 1.6 110bhp/177lb ft

As is usual in the four-wheel drive market, the diesel is expected to be the biggest hit; in the regular hatch it achieves carbon dioxide emissions of just 104g/km thanks to Mini’s stop-start technology. That’s Toyota Prius-rivalling stuff, and the jacked-up Mini shouldn’t be far off.

Click 'Next' to read more about the Mini 4x4Have they picked a name for the Mini SUV yet?

It’s one of the few secrets left on the car. Past suggestions have included Monte (after the classic Mini’s rallying exploits in Monte Carlo), Colorado (to appeal to the Mini’s ever-expanding American market) and Crossman – a Clubman that crosses over stuff, presumably. None of the names have had a particularly rapturous response, and one Mini insider has ruled out Crossman. We’ll keep digging.

And what’s it going to look like?

All the models spied so far have been heavily clad Clubmans, and our latest artist’s impression of the production 4x4 suggests it'll be a toughened up version of this suicide-doored estate. Expect it to share oily bits with its platform-buddy BMW X1.

The new 4x4 will be the first modern Mini built outside of the UK, with production taking place at Magna Steyr in Austria, the plant that churns out the current BMW X3. It’s not a case of the German brand turning its nose up at the Mini’s British heritage: the Oxford plant already churns out north of 220,000 cars a year and has reached its production limit after the sales success of the standard hatch, Convertible and Clubman variants.

As with the Clubman, expect a selection of concepts previewing the production model. The 4x4 production car will arrive at the turn of the decade.

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