A day after photos began leaking onto the Internet, Mini officially released information on its new Countryman -- its first foray into the crossover field.
As we reported yesterday, the Countryman closely resembles the remainder of the Mini range, but incorporates some cues that allow it to look somewhat rugged. The angled front fascia, complete with the taller front bumper and modified headlamps, closely resembles the Beachcomber concept shown at this year’s Detroit auto show. Unlike that show car, however, the Countryman sports a normal hardtop, four full-sized doors, and a one-piece rear hatch.
Inside, the Countryman continues to resemble other contemporary Minis. The speedometer -- along with a new information display -- is placed right in the center of the instrument panel. Mini’s Center Rail idea, first seen in the 2008 Crossover concept, allows for flexible configurations of storage bins and other clip-in accessories in the first and second rows. This, of course, mandates four bucket seats, but a three-passenger rear bench is reportedly a no-cost option.
We’ve yet to see the finalized release on the U.S.-spec Countryman, but it’s safe to surmise that powertrain offerings will mirror those of other Mini models. The revised 122-hp, 1.6-liter I-4 will be used in the Cooper Countryman, while the hot 184-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter I-4 will power the Cooper S Countryman. In Europe, a six-speed manual is standard equipment, while a six-speed automatic is optional.
Also optional is the new “ALL4” all-wheel-drive system. In normal conditions, the system splits power evenly between the front and rear wheels, but can transfer all power to the back wheels should the fronts begin to slip. Cooper S Countrymans equipped with the ALL4 system also receive run-flat tires as standard equipment.
Mini plans on officially launching the Countryman at the 2010 Geneva motor show, and staging its U.S. premiere at this year’s New York auto show. Although the crossover goes on sale in Europe come September, it won’t reach U.S. dealers until February of 2011.