6 May 2004

BMW’s top brass have been looking at a whole generation of secret new products, including this strange box-shaped vehicle running on Mini Cooper wheels. The two-day Munich viewing gave board members a chance to take decisions on models including the next generation 3-series, due in autumn 2005, and the 7-series facelift coming next spring. Also under consideration were early proposals for the BMW Z4 replacement, despite the current roadster only being launched last year. Execs are deciding whether to go with another cloth roof or develop a folding metal hard-top. But the most intriguing of the 16 products on display were a pair of boxy suggestions, the smaller of which is pictured above. The Mini wheels suggest that the product approval meeting was for both brands.

The square shape under the tarpaulin backs suggestions that this car is a design study in interior packaging on an extended Mini platform. Although still visibly a three-door, there is a longer gap between the door and the rear wheels, betraying the lengthened wheelbase.

This car is separate from the estate ‘Clubman’ model that has already been approved. It will be launched in 2008, alongside the next Mini hatchback.

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A second MPV-style car was also on show. Based on a 5-series, the Space Concept has a centrally mounted steering wheel, a high driving position and six- or eight-cylinder engines. It was going to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, but BMW had a last- minute change of heart.

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