Extended Wheelbase MINI Spotted

Here it is folks… the first clear spy shots of the upcoming extended wheel-base MINI. Autowereld (and Dutch publication) has the scoop. Unfortunately our Dutch is a little rusty so let me talk a bit about what we do know and what these photos confirm.

While this prototype is heavily disguised with copious amounts tacked on black plastic, we can immediately see several tell-tale signs of the new four door MINI. First off is the extended wheelbase which will allow for three and most likely four doors. The multi-door design is reportedly similar to what BMW uses for the Rolls Royce Phantom which allows the rear doors to be opened independently of the front (unlike the Mazda RX8 for example) . Then there’s the slightly taller roof and more square rear hatch. This should allow for more rear headroom and a taller cargo area. Finally we’re told that this new extended wheel-base MINI will feature a slightly tweaked design language that we’re guessing will be more along the lines of chunky and funky. This will set it apart from the standard R56 coupe, which we should see in the fall of 2006.

We’ve learned that the MINI EXT (our name, not BMW’s) will debut as early as the fall of 2007 (as an ’08 model) and will be closely followed more than one other variant in the years following.

You can read the entire Autowereld.com article below (in Dutch):

[ Eerste spyshots Mini Estate ] Autowereld.com

And just to let you know why we were so insistent that the recent Auto-Bild MINI EXT renderings were spot one… just take a look at how close they are to what appears to be the real thing.

Related:

[ Next Generation MINI Revealed ] MotoringFile

Update: Mike was kind enough to translate the Autowereld article from Dutch to English:

These are the very first spyshots of the MINI Estate. This new variant on the MINI-theme will for its cost have to account for approximately half of sales.

That BMW is doing well with the new MINI goes without saying. But in order to continue to grow further, BMW is coming with new variants. A pickup and station-wagony variant have been speculated about for a long time now. Now, the first spyshots of the latter have been taken. The MINI Estate was captured during test procedures. There is little to see, but it is confirmation that the Estate really will come.

New dashboard The Estate will directly accommodate the new dashboard that the MINI will receive. There is a facelift in the works for the MINI and MINI Cabriolet in which the new dashboard will make its debut. The materials used will be solidly upgraded and there is an expanded in-car entertainment system available.

Estate lives again! This is not the first time that Mini has come out with a stationwagon. There was also an Estate model available on the old Mini. Several body structure enhancements are above all responsible for building the regular MINI into a 3-door stationwagon. In reality the new model will have to wait until 2007, but will eventually also be available as a 5-door stationwagon. Surprising is the development of the doors which can be opened in the opposite direction.