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Official photos and details will be released in a few months but we have a few bits and pieces to finally reveal. For one we’ve confirmed (for the 3rd time now) that MINI will name the R60 “Countryman”. For those who have been following MotoringFile for awhile this shouldn’t be news, but another high-level confirmation was worth a mention.
However what is news is that MINI will be branding the new all-wheel drive system that comes optional on the Countryman. Like Audi does with Quattro and BMW does with Xdrive, MINI wants to create a sub-brand that will be recognizable with consumers. Therefore the system will launch with the name “All4” tied to it.
While marketing is getting underway on the new MINI, pre-production is lagging behind. First off the X3 is still being produced. And as BMW’s most profitable vehicle per unit, they are very sensitive to the time it will take to stop production in Austria and start production of the new X3 in the US. So the Countryman is certainly a secondary thought as compared to an already established vehicle like the X3.
But that hasn’t stopped Magna Steyr from starting the hiring process at the Austria plant. Once X3 production ceases, new candidates have been selected and trained (along with the rest of the staff) production should commence. However the specific time when that will happen remains a little foggy other than to say early 2010.
All this leads us to believe that MINI may well push back the launch of the R60 to the Geneva Motor Show in early March rather than show it in Detroit in early January. If that’s the case we’d also guess that the debut R55/R56/R57 refresh will also fall back a few months.