BMW is examining proposals for a new Mini GTI, based on the upcoming Mini Crossover model due next year.
The new front-drive machine would slot in just below established favourites such as the VW Golf GTI, offering a more compact – but equally well engineered – package.
It’s too early to say definitively how the car will be priced, but it could be around 10 per cent cheaper than a similarly specified and similarly powerful Golf GTI, according to early projections.
If it’s given the green light, the Mini GTI would be built alongside the Mini Crossover at the Steyr factory in Austria and won’t appear much before 2012.
The GTI is likely to deliver at least 180bhp and will be lower and more dynamically focused than the jacked-up Mini Crossover. A John Cooper Works variant, delivering at least 220bhp, is also likely.
Although the new five-door platform will accommodate four-wheel drive, a super-powerful Mini Quattro is not currently on BMW’s wish list, although it could be introduced relatively easily.
The GTI would get its own distinctive styling, with new bumpers front and rear, different sill covers and a unique rear spoiler and wheel designs.
A more sporting interior is also a certainty, with proper sports seats, a bespoke steering wheel and new trim options.
BMW sources have told Autocar that the company is looking at eventually spinning off three new models from its new 4m-long, five-door Mini platform.
First up will be the production version of the Crossover concept, which is due in 2010.