This is the Mini Beachcomber concept, unveiled today at the Detroit motor show.
The Mini Beachcomber's body, dimensions and drivetrain are shared with the Countryman; just add doors and a roof and remove a few of the more outlandish concept car touches, such as the tailgate-mounted spare wheel.
The Countryman sits on a modified version of the Clubman’s platform that has been stretched and widened to create a car that is roughly the same size as the new Volkswagen Polo. It’s a layout that could also be used for a more off-road-oriented model.
The production car’s dimensions will be the same as the concept’s, making it the first Mini to be more than four metres long. “Four metres was a border that was heavily discussed within the company,” said Mini design boss Gert Hildebrand.
The rear doors will be front-hinged, and the side-hinged tailgate of the concept will be replaced by a normal top-hinged hatch.
Mini wants the Countryman to offer what BMW’s head of development, Klaus Draeger, has described as “a serious proposition for those who want a family car”.
The driveline consists of a transversely mounted engine that provides drive to all four wheels through an electronically controlled, multi-plate-clutch four-wheel drive system similar to that employed in BMW’s X1.
The Mini’s set-up will be called ALL4 and it will feature a six-speed manual gearbox. But front-wheel drive will be standard on the entry-level models.
While Mini is not making big noises about the Beachcomber’s engine, Autocar can confirm the Countryman will be sold with 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines at launch. The appearance of a sizeable air duct within the Beachcomber’s bonnet hints at a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol powerplant, though. This is most likely to be the 173bhp unit from the Cooper and Clubman S.