Mini concept reveals styling clues to upcoming junior SUV
16 December 2009

This is the Mini Beachcomber, which gives the best clues yet to the appearance, size, interior layout and mechanical make-up of its long-awaited junior SUV.

The concept is a preview of the new Countryman, on sale in the UK next September. It shares key elements of the four-door body and four-seat cabin, together with its turbocharged 1.6-litre engine and four-wheel drive mechanicals.

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Inspired by the original Mini Moke from 1964, the Beachcomber is also being used to explore design ideas that could find their way onto future derivatives of the Countryman, which is due to get its first public outing at the Geneva motor show in early March.

“It’s an ideas car that, depending on the sort of feedback we receive, may have a bearing on a future Mini production car,” said the firm’s design boss, Gert Hildebrand. “It’s based on our upcoming SUV but we’ve injected added fun and off-road ability into it that we think could appeal to a certain type of Mini customer.”

The Beachcomber’s pillarless body and lack of doors and roof are taken from the Moke. The aim of this is to place the driver and passengers closer to the action. The new Mini also features a series of fabric and composite panels that cover the door apertures and roof, to provide occupants with protection from the elements.

But the open-body design would be difficult to make, given today’s safety regs. And while Mini is renowned for producing rigidly structured cars, it would require major modifications to the floorpan. But Mini officials have not ruled out the possibility of offering an optional full-length fabric roof like the Beachcomber’s on the Countryman.

The Beachcomber’s design hints at some off-road ability, with generous ground clearance, protective cladding, underbody skid plates and mud-terrain tyres. Short front and rear overhangs would also help, although it’s thought that the production Countryman will not be pitched as an off-roader.

Concept car flourishes aside, the Beachcomber’s exterior styling combines the retro-inspired appearance of the existing Cooper with a more technically oriented approach that, Hildebrand said, will become increasingly evident on other new Mini models due in the future.

And despite the apparent similarities with existing Minis, the car is much bolder and considerably larger than any of the firm’s models before. At 4070mm long, the Beachcomber is 135mm longer than the Clubman, currently the longest Mini ever built. It also rides on a wheelbase that is 59mm longer than the Clubman’s, at 2606mm.

The increased dimensions may force some to call into question the relevance of the Mini badge, but they have also provided scope for a roomy four-seat interior with individual sliding rear seats and a generous-sized boot.

The side-opening tailgate mirrors that of Mini’s early Cross concept, shown at last year’s Paris motor show. In keeping with the robust nature of the Beachcomber, it supports a spare wheel.

The dashboard, with its large central dial, toggle switches and oval-themed seats and pedals, mirrors the look established in other Mini models. In keeping with the Beachcomber’s rugged looks and open-air design, it has rubber floor mats and neoprene upholstery for the seats to provide some protection from the elements. Those materials will be replaced by more conventional trim on production versions of the Countryman, but apart from that the Beachcomber’s interior is an accurate rendition of the production cabin.

The Countryman will be the first of the BMW-generation Minis to be built outside of the UK. Instead of being made at Cowley, the Countryman will be manufactured by Magna at its Graz plant in Austria.

Greg Kable

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Comments
21

16 December 2009

Whats that muffled scraping noise? Oh, thatll be Sir Alec Issigonis, turning in his grave.

currently a happy owner of a Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin :)

16 December 2009

Ive seen that Ant thing before, its great, & the idea of an ultra-lightweight, utilitarian 4x4 vehicle, is the complete polar opposite of this bloated style-statement. What new innovations will this thing bring to the world of car design? Absolutely none.

currently a happy owner of a Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin :)

16 December 2009

Are you sure this isn't the new Jeep Cherokee? Because unless the guy driving is a dwarf, this 'mini' is gigantic!

16 December 2009

Is it me or is MINI growing into a lardy Naff and overpriced brand ? I suppose it will cater to the increasingly obese clientele though.

Here is the supersize MINI for the supersize not so yummy mummy. More like a fat slapper in flipflops and leggings complete with tattoo above its arse for all to see. Yuk.

Maybe they need to adopt the old adage "the best things come in small packages."

Not much hope of that is there in this day and age.

16 December 2009

[quote roverfan1984] What's that muffled scraping noise? Oh, that'll be Sir Alec Issigonis, turning in his grave.[/quote]

Superb.

[quote roverfan1984]... the idea of an ultra-lightweight, utilitarian 4x4 vehicle, is the complete polar opposite of this bloated style-statement. What new innovations will this thing bring to the world of car design? Absolutely none.[/quote]

Superb.

16 December 2009

That's awful......

16 December 2009

Eeewww!!!!!! The front end. I can't explain it. vhnufhzbtyusbzfykdbgfebatfdbhzfbdyabvfdlafa$^%$@^!%$#!^%$&%$@%$#!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

16 December 2009

This 'car' looks like a crap hole. Full of crap.

16 December 2009

it is truly awful, the mini 4x4 is truly a minger and no matter what you do, it will still be a minger.

mini is now naff its been said above and i know said before on this site - it just lost its way and it is now really cheesey - no doubt - its a cliche - it really is just plain naff.

goes back to a discussion ages ago tha i read on hear, why not have two brands, the classic mini brand with the car retro style JUST for cars and then then the "new world" mini that does not try and stick the mini nose on everything and is a truly modern take.

in the modern take style you would have a small SUV if you wanted, a small people carrier, ultra low weight city car and a sports motor etc....but now new mini is definately naff and definately a cliche - why they do not sort it out i have no idea? - maybe when people stop buying them - but then it will be to late - which will be a shame for all those uk folks employed in its production - sort it out mini - even if for no one else, for your own sakes

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