Mini Traveller (2008)

Published: 12 January 2007

Mini Traveller: the lowdown

CAR Online has snared the best photos yet of the top-secret new Mini Traveller. The super-sized estate version of the new Mini is being readied to hit showrooms next year - and adds a bigger boot and extra doors to the familiar Mini hatch charm and nimbleness. Our exclusive spy photos reveal a lightly disguised prototype that looks suspiciously near production readiness. At last we can see clearly the layout of the asymmetric rear passenger doors: only one suicide door is fitted to the right-hand side of this left-hooker. The big question is whether right-hand drive cars for its domestic UK market will have the door switched to the nearside for easier entry and exit for back-seat passengers. Previous spyshots suggest the suicide door can be positioned on either side.

A sensible Mini? Whatever next...

It's all relative, don't forget. This isn't going to trouble a Volvo or Mercedes estate for practicality. But the Traveller will offer useful extra room for legs and luggage - especially with its unusual twin side-hinged rear van doors. Each side even gets its own rear wiper. Expect some clever touches inside, too. Mini has shown some novel storage solutions in its Traveller concept car, including boxes on the side of the boot and an underfloor tray. The cladding on the roof of this prototype suggests a roof rail storage system in likely to be standard.

What's under the bonnet of the new Mini Traveller?

All the regular engines will be offered: that means the new 1.6 petrol in various states of tune from 95bhp to 175bhp in the turbocharged Cooper S version. And a new 110bhp 1.6 diesel, pilfered from BMW's relationship with PSA Peugeot-Citroen, will surely be more popular in a junior load-lugger like this. Front-wheel drive will be standard fit on the Traveller, although rumours persist that future Minis may adopt four-wheel drive. Don't expect to see a 4wd Mini any time soon, though.

Will the Mini Traveller still be a sharp drive?

You bet. Mini isn't about to throw away its hot-hatch handling just because of a bigger boot. The Traveller is based on the same architecture as the new Mini hatch - sharing its aluminium suspension components and new electric power steering. CAR Online's first drive of the new Mini proves it's still one of the greatest small cars to drive, even though it has lost a bit of its sparkle and immediacy.

The big question.... how similar will the production car be to the Traveller concept?

Judge for yourself. Strip away the typical show-car frippery, and the oft-shown Traveller concept appears to have survived intact... in its overall form at least. Just don't go expecting to see roof-mounted spotlights and the spare wheel mounted on the roof. Forget the insipid Sidewalk special edition unveiled at this week's Detroit show; Paddy Hopkirk special, anyone?

By Tim Pollard

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