This is the next new Mini model, expected to hit showrooms in 2010. The five-door Mini 4x4 will be previewed at the Paris motor show in October and could spawn a more mainstream front-drive hatchback variant, according to high-level sources.
The 4x4, which Mini is calling Sports Activity Vehicle, will feature a new, taller, five-door body. But in order to make the new ‘SAV’ financially viable, Mini plans to build a two-wheel-drive model on the same chassis, creating a five-door hatchback.
While the successful launch of the SAV would take annual Mini brand sales up to the 340,000 mark, industry specialists say that Mini probably needs to make 500,000 cars per year if it is to be profitable and its research and development programmes are to become self-funding.
To this end, insiders say that if the Mini SAV proves a success, the two-wheel-drive ‘Mini Maxi’ hatch could be launched by 2012.
Confusion surrounds the make-up of the SAV’s chassis. Some sources say it is a development of the current Clubman, equipped with a taller bulkhead and new upper-body structure. However, other sources say that it uses the existing Mini frontal structure but adds a new floorpan modified to accommodate both four-wheel drive and completely different seating positions.
Officially, BMW says that while its engineers “devised the SAV vehicle concept”, “series development and production” will be handled by Austrian company Magna Steyr, which has been involved in the car’s engineering.
BMW also says that it completed “the majority of the drivetrain development” for the Mini SAV. This could mean that Getrag’s prototype 4x4 system, designed specifically for the Mini, has not been employed for the production car.
The SAV will get a similar range of petrol and diesel engines to the current Mini range, with prices likely to start at around £16,500.
BMW says it plans to make just 80,000 Mini SAVs each year at Magna’s factory in Graz when the current X3, the plant’s current production model, is phased out. The Mini factory in Oxford is already operating at full capacity and the new X3 will be built in the United States.