With the Beachcomber concept, MINI is not only giving us a look at a modern Moke type of vehicle but also a hint at many things to come.
Countryman Design Similarities
Yes for starters we are looking at essentially a over stylized R60 Countryman crossover. But what exactly does that mean you ask? MINI Design took a prototype R60 and literally cut into the doors (the originals are still in place as you can see the seams on the front and rear), removed the top and began re-imaging it in the guise of an off-roader. So in a sense what you’re looking at here is a modified R60 Countryman.
But let’s get more specific. The lights are spot on carry overs from production. However the bumpers and cladding on the renderings and images are new and will not be seen on the R60. Either will the off-road tires. However if you look at a few of the early sketches (especially the one below) we start to get a much better idea of how the final Countryman design will shape-up.
This similarity to the R60 carries over inside even more so save for some outlandish pattern and trim pieces. The overall design, features and shapes inside the cabin are 100% R60. One of the more interesting things to note inside is MINI’s ability to make space out of seemingly tight quarters. For instance the rear seats can be adjusted front to back giving rear passengers much greater legroom than would be available otherwise. And since this modified Clubman platform has also been widened, there’s decidedly more shoulder room than any MINI before.
Earlier this year we reported on MINI’s WRC connection. With the rally heritage of the brand, there have been many internal champions of MINI returning to professional rally racing. As we reported earlier this year, this will happen with the R60. In fact if you again look at the sketch below you’ll get a glimpse (if you squint) at what that rally car will look like. The rally car will be built by the famed British racing company Prodrive making its debut sometime next year. We expect 2011 to be it’s first full year on the circuit.
For 2011 MINI will be refreshing their entire line-up of R56 derived cars (R55, R56, and R57) with both exterior and interior additions and we get a sneak peak at some of the upgrades with the Beachcomber concept. Notably the improved plastics seen in the center stack area will foreshadow what the R56 derived refresh will bring.
Variations on a Theme
Obviously the first variation of this concept will be the MINI Countryman scheduled to debut in Geneva in early March. However MINI is also considering creating (as you’ve probably read on MF) a non-crossover version that is closer to a Golf GTI four door in concept. The car would feature the same layout as the R60 yet lower to the ground with the faux off-roadness taken away and replaced with a more classic MINI appearance. There’s even a chance MINI’s ALL4 all wheel drive system could show up on the car.
While it’s just an internal concept at this point (designs have been created but nothing has been set in stone yet) MINI wants to leverage the engineering work done to bring the R60 to market. After-all what we’re looking at here is a bespoke platform (potentially MINI’s last that isn’t shared with another manufacturer) that cost a substantial amount of money