Finally, the first official information has surfaced about Mini’s upcoming four-wheel-drive model with the unveiling of its production-ready Crossover concept. The prototype will be shown at the Paris Motor Show.
The Crossover previews Mini's attempt on the SUV theme, a fourth model derivative which will join the line-up in 2010. In production guise it will be badged as the Mini Cross.
Rumour has it that Mini 4x4 would share its underpinnings with BMW's upcoming X1 entry-level SUV – after all, it will be built at the same plant in Graz, Austria.
The Crossover concept's Clubman-like appearance also hints that the two Mini models might share the same mechanical package.
However, at 4 135mm long, 1830mm wide and 1 598mm high, it is bigger all round than the Mini Clubman.
The Crossover’s 2 606mm wheelbase is also 61mm longer, providing scope for a roomier interior space and bigger boot.
Inside, the Crossover Concept features a four-seat layout with individual sliding rear seats that can fold flat to extend boot space.
Although it is immediately recognisable as a Mini, the Crossover Concept has more muscular and bolder look than its siblings, with a prominent three-slat chromed grille and big, high-set headlamps dominating its nose.
Like the Clubman Mini has given the Crossover Concept an unusual door arrangement.
The right-hand side has two short but conventional front-hinged frameless doors and an exposed B-pillar, but the left-hand side has a longer frameless front door and a stubby rear door with a parallelogram hinge and does away with the B-pillar altogether.
At the rear is a frameless one-piece tailgate that hinges sideways from the right to reveal a flat boot. The rear window can be wound down to allow long objects to extend out beyond the rear door.