Little and large, heh?
Yes, quite. We’ve caught Mini’s upcoming SAV – that’s Sports Activity Vehicle for those of you on the lookout for pointless automotive acronyms – undergoing tests well before its 2009 debut. And being handily caught next to an X5 at these traffic lights in Munich shows just how squat and chunky Mini’s soft-roader will be.
Although it will be aimed at the fashionista rather than farmers, Mini’s fourth model gets a newly developed all-wheel-drive system. While the front-end architecture remains much the same as the current hatch, the rear has been developed from scratch to house the requisite differentials, drive shafts and reworked jacked-up suspension set-up. But it’s all relative – the Mini will be fine for tackling the odd snowy path en route to your luxury ski lodge in Kitzbühel, but not much good for reaching base camp at the foot of K2.
The next logical step for the Mini, or niche marketing getting ahead of itself? Let us know what you think by clicking the 'Add Comment' button below...
Mini is a bit of a money-printing operation for BMW, isn’t it?
Yes, BMW find itself in the enviable situation of not being able to build its ultra-successful Mini fast enough. This year its Oxford plant will churn out some 220,000 cars, and next year that will rise to a massive 260,000 as the Clubman and Convertible come on stream. Which means the pushed-to-capacity plant will have no room for SAV production, sales of which should, BMW hopes, should top 80,000 a year. Insiders claim that BMW will have to juggle production plants for its new Mini and X3 models.
While the current X3 is currently being built by Austrian contractor Magna Steyr, production of the new X3 will be brought in house and moved to America, where it will be built alongside the X5 in North Carolina. Magna Steyr’s liberated capacity will then be taken up by producing Mini’s off-roader.
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So who’s going to buy this thing, whatever it's called?
It may seem like a niche within a niche, but BMW’s product planners believe the Mini off-roader will direct hit for those drivers wanting the feeling of high-riding security and go-anywhere ability a small 4x4 offers without theenvironmental backlash. Factor in Mini’s 1.4 and 1.6 petrol and diesel engines that are equipped with stop-start and other economy devices from BMW’s Efficiency Dynamics package, and the new Mini should fly out the showrooms with a clear green conscience.
There’s no confirmation of the new model’s name - the rumour mill continues to churn out some interesting potential badges for the newest Mini – but Monte is thought to be under consideration, named in honour of Paddy Hopkirk's rallying heroics at 1964 Monte Carlo rally, and Colorado is also thought to be a favourite, which will have a distinct American appeal. No bad thing, as the SAV will join other Mini variants sold in America. Whatever its name, though, the Mini off-roader will be priced at the top end of its perceived market – when it goes on sale in late 2009, expect the upper echelon versions to top the £20,000 mark.