BMW is working on a production version of the Mini Beachcomber concept, first revealed last December.
Company sources say two versions of the Beachcomber are on the drawing board at the Mini design studios in Munich.
One is close to the concept and known internally as the Moke. The other is a shorter, three-door version dubbed the Canyon Coupé.
The two cars are being considered alongside the sporting Countryman coupé, revealed by Autocar on 1 September. The starting point for the new Moke is a pillarless version of the new Countryman platform, which is also intended to underpin the next-generation Mini Clubman.
The pillarless design will enable the fitting of rear-hinged rear doors on both sides of the car, addressing criticisms (from right-hand drive countries such as the UK and Japan) of the current single-rear-doored Clubman.
Although the raised sill on the Beachcomber concept was, apparently, sufficient to meet most side impact regulations, the production Moke proposal has four proper doors, with the rear doors rear-hinged.
Insiders say the Moke’s tough-look styling and raised ride height are very close to what was seen on the Beachcomber. The five-door Moke has been inspired partly by Honda’s Element Crossover, which has a similar pillarless layout.
The Moke would not be quite as capacious as the boxy Element, but it could get lift-out roof panels that, combined with frameless doors and a wind-down hatchback window, would allow the car to be substantially opened to the elements.
The other proposal — the Mini Canyon Coupé — is a rugged three-door interpretation of a ‘beach car’.
This concept is based on a shortened Countryman platform, using a conventional three-door, four-seat layout and the same All4 all-wheel drive system. Mini’s designers are said to be considering a permanent roofbox-style luggage space arrangement.
Inspiration for the Canyon is said to come from the three ‘Canyon Carver’ sketches by BMW’s California-based Designworks studio, which were revealed at the 2005 LA motor show. A decision on giving the green light to either the Moke or Canyon Coupé is expected by the start of next year, partly to allow bosses to gauge the initial sales of the Countryman.