LAND ROVER RANGE ROVER LRX
What: Excess is over, Rover, it's time for a small crossover!
Where's The Beef? With styling based on the show-car Land Rover LRX (below) and a chassis based on the LR2, this new, small Range Rover will come in both two- and four-door flavors. Look for the production versions to make their first appearances on the auto-show circuit this fall.
What: A sporty Lexus Prius.
When: Early 2011
Youthful Aspirations: Lexus already has a compact hybrid in the HS250h, but the CT200h targets a younger crowd with its Euro-hatch body and promises of more engaging dynamics. Compared with the HS, the CT200h uses a smaller (1.8-liter) gas engine that should come close to the 50-mpg EPA combined rating of the Prius. Can one car shift the demographics of Lexus buyers
What: A Mini SUV.
When: February 2011
The Next Logical Step? Or the beginning of the end? To many, the Mini has been the anti-SUV. What, then, to make of the Countryman, the first Mini SUV? Mini marketers will have a delicate job with this one, but they expect that the first Mini with four real doors and available all-wheel drive will eventually account for 40 percent of the brand's sales. That would make it the second most popular model in the lineup, well ahead of the Clubman and the convertible. Thus, Mini will offer the Countryman in a full range of configurations: base and S, front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, manual and automatic. The Countryman also will benefit from the same 2011 model-year updates as all other Minis, which include more power and improved fuel economy from both engines, thanks to parasitic-loss management and Valvetronic on the Cooper S.
Coupe & Roadster
What: Two-seat notchback with a fixed roof or a soft top.
When: Coupe in 2011, Roadster in 2012
Lighter And Lower: First seen as concepts at the Frankfurt auto show, the Mini Coupe and Roadster are both headed to showrooms. Below the beltline, the two are identical to the current Mini Cooper and Cooper convertible. But the new cars are some two inches lower and feature a more steeply raked windshield and a stubby trunk -- although they are the same length as a standard two-door Mini. Both, however, are strictly two-seaters, and thus they will be roughly 175 to 200 pounds lighter than a four-seat Mini. No word yet on whether these sportiest Minis will offer the full range of powerplants or only the Cooper S and John Cooper Works turbocharged units.
Next Big Move
Just one year after the last of the current-generation Mini models arrives in 2012, the renewal process starts with the first of the next Minis. It seems safe to predict another retro urban vehicle with a sporty stance; early spy photos indicate an interior that once again mixes circular styling elements, eye-catching design, and mediocre ergonomics. Less easy to predict is the direction of the next Clubman or the shape of the final member of the family: the MiniVan. We do know that the next Clubman will get four proper doors, but what remains to be seen is whether it will adopt a more aggressive and less squared-off roofline or will instead head down Retro Lane with a woody theme, like the Mini Traveller of the 1960s. As for the MiniVan -- which was supposed to be part of the second generation -- it's a highly space-efficient one-box design, but an even more extreme flat-nosed concept is also in the running. Under the hood, we'll see a 1.5-liter direct-injected three-cylinder turbo (125 hp for the Cooper, 185 hp for the S) and a 2.0-liter direct-injected twin-turbo four-cylinder (250 hp) for the John Cooper Works version. What we won't see are the European-market 1.2-liter gasoline and diesel options. Our transmission choices will be a six-speed manual or a seven-cog dual-clutch automatic.