Friday 31 October 2008

MINI Crossman out in the open

BMW's 4,135mm long, 1,830mm wide and 1,598mm high SUV has been spied undergoing handling testing in Munich, Germany.

The Mini Crossover concept was based upon an extended 61mm platform of the Clubman. We expect the Crossover’s 2,606mm wheelbase to be carried over into the Crossman to offer greater rear passenger and luggage space.

It’s clear that this is going to be the biggest car to wear a Mini badge so far. The Paris show car was badged as the Mini Crossman, but BMW insiders say the production car will be sold as the Mini Cross. The finished car will also lose most of the Paris show concept’s more outlandish details, including the sliding ‘parallelogram’ hinges of its rear doors in favour for conventional rear doors. Also the rear bootlid is most likely hinged at the roof instead of the right side quarter panel like the concept but it’s possible that the production version will keep the concept’s wind-down tailgate windows, which make it easier to carry longer loads.

Although the Mini Cross is almost as big as BMW’s forthcoming X1 compact SUV, the two cars will not share mechanical components. Instead, the Cross will use a developed version of the platform and powertrains already offered in the existing Mini and Mini Clubman.

The production Mini Cross will be built in Austria by Magna Steyr, which builds European versions of the current BMW X3. Mini hopes to pumped out 80,000 units a year. The Mini Cross will be the fourth body model in the MINI range with four-doors, four seats, four-wheel-drive and four cylinder engines.

A lower, less aggressively styled, two-wheel-drive variant will be launched shortly after the 4x4 version in 2010. Prices are likely to start at £20,000.

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