Last we heard, Mini was still planning on unveiling its first production crossover -- reportedly called Countryman -- during March’s Geneva motor show. Still, that hasn’t stopped a few images of the production-ready product from leaking onto the Internet.
We saw our first taste of the Countryman when the Mini Crossover Concept debuted at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. That car added more than 2 inches to the Mini Clubman’s stretched wheelbase, along with an all-wheel drive layout that is based on the rear-drive platform of the BMW 1 Series. Later, we spotted Countryman prototypes roaming the Nurburgring, hammering out suspension and drivetrain tuning details.
From the photos that emerged this morning, depicting a Cooper S version of the Countryman, we can see that many of the Crossover Concept’s styling cues have been left intact. The Countryman appears pretty much how we’d expect a stretched four-door Mini to look, and retains its proportions in spite of the enlargement. The typical Cooper S tweaks are seen on the pictured car, including more aggressive-looking wheels, twin exhaust tips, and sporty front and rear fascias.
For those who love anticipation, there’s still plenty more rumor and speculation to hold one’s breath over. For example, while we can expect a standard 1.6L engine to power a base model (with a supercharged version likely power ‘S’ trim models), will a bigger engine be in-store for a higher tuned Countryman? With a beefier all-wheel drive 1 Series drivetrain, a larger engine and more horsepower could be in the works. Rumors also persist that the Countryman will enter the World Rally Championship in the coming years.
We still don’t know just when the Countryman will arrive in U.S. showrooms, but we’d expect a hefty price premium over the Mini Clubman -- even heftier than the premium the Clubman takes on the regular Cooper. For more on the Countryman, stay tuned for our Geneva Motor Show coverage.