BMW's Mini estate revealed in unprecedented detail
6 February 2007

These are the latest spy shots on BMW's third Mini model variant – the forthcoming Traveller estate. They confirm, as reported on late last year, that the bigger Mini will get a pair of split rear van-style doors in place of the usual hatchback, an asymmetrical body, and an additional door on the passenger side permitting easier access to the back seats.Our gallery spy shots show a Mini Traveller mule wearing much less disguise than normal. You can tell that this new Mini will be a five-door, but certainly not in the mould of most five-door hatchbacks. There's an extra passenger side door on the right-hand side of this left-hook development car, but on UK models, it'll be on the left, opening onto the kerb when parked, and granting better access to rear seats that will have a generous helping of extra legroom than those of the standard Mini.Our mule's heaviest disguise is at the rear, where Mini has attempted to throw our spies off the scent with a decoy grab handle. There's also heavy cladding around the rear light clusters, which suggests that the split side-hinged doors will use an evolution of the Mini Traveller concept's door-hinges. These mount on the flanks of the car rather than on its rump, and allow the doors to swing away from the boot while remaining close to the sides of the car, so they're less likely to open them against the car behind.There remains a little uncertainly about what the new Mini wagon will be called. All of the concept Mini estates have so far been called Traveller, but certain sources suggest that Mini may yet dump the old Morris name in favour of the 'Countryman' moniker, more recently used by Austin Rover in the 1980s. There's a great deal less uncertainty about the car's mechanicals; though it's a longer car, its family of engines and chassis components will be identical to those in the new Mini hatch, which means a choice of 95bhp 1.4-litre Mini One, 120bhp 1.6-litre Mini Cooper and 170bhp 1.6-litre turbo Mini Cooper S models. Overwhelmingly the most popular is likely to be Mini's new 110bhp Cooper diesel motor though.Expect to see the finished Mini Traveller at this year's Frankfurt motor show; UK deliveries should start in spring 2008.

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