Currently reading: Mini Countryman to get rugged off-road variant
The 2017 Mini Countryman has been revealed, but we understand a more rugged variant with a raised ride height and skid plates is in development

Although the new Mini Countryman majors on premium feel and urban sophistication, Autocar understands a more rugged and off-road-capable spin-off version of the new Mini is under development.

Sources say it will feature a raised ride height and skid plates front and rear. Other tweaks could include bigger driving lights, new wheels and modified front and rear bumper designs.

The Countryman is based on the same UKL2 platform as the BMW 2 Series and new BMW X1. Some time ago, Autocar drove an all-wheel-drive version of the Countryman’s 2 Series sister car at BMW’s test track in southern France, where it proved surprisingly adept.

The platform’s inherent stiffness clearly contributed, but much of the car’s ability on the off-road course was down to carefully managed electronic control of the brakes and how the power was put down, plus impressive cross-axle torque distribution.

Although the more rugged Countryman is not going to have the wheel travel needed for hardcore off-road driving, evidence from driving the prototype 2 Series suggests that it will be able to handle surprisingly tough tracks, especially if the conditions are not waterlogged. The Mini’s shorter overhangs provide another distinct advantage in off-road use.

Although the original Mini didn’t spawn a production off-roader (Mini creator Alec Issigonis did experiment with the tiny Mini-related Austin Ant 4x4 prototype), the iconic Mini Cooper rally cars and the modern Mini Dakar off-road racer would give authentic backing to the proposed rugged Mk2 Countryman.

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