Mystery Countryman Spotted Testing in California

One of our intrepid readers saw this last week on the Pacific California Highway and thought we should have a look. It would appear that MINI is testing some new Countryman variety in California. But with the R60 freshly dropped on dealer lots, what could MINI already be testing behind a BMW X1? The only apparent clue is the fact it has one small tailpipe.

We’ve have a couple theories but the one that seems by far most plausible is that this is one of the first looks at the forthcoming Countryman hybrid destined for a 2013-2014 introduction. The new hybrid has been hinted at before and our sources have dropped some pretty straightforward references to it. Based on our information it will be a plugin hybrid that will pack lithium ion batteries and the naturally aspirated MINI engine. Power figures are pretty foggy at this time but we’d guess it’ll be between the Cooper and Cooper S with an all electric propulsion below certain speeds.

(Full gallery after the break)

Another option could be that we’re the mythical MINI Countryman diesel being tested in the US. It doesn’t seem as likely as the hybrid theory for a couple of reasons. For one we know that MINI will be focusing on the hybrid drivetrain sooner than the diesel in the US. Secondly we all know the long a sorted history of the MINI diesel in the US and we’re not entirely sure MINI USA has solved the various issues with bringing it to market.

Finally could this be MINI testing the new three cylinder engine in the Countryman? With the engine range having less weight, much higher MPG and even more power than the current range it would make sense for the R60 and it’s derivatives to ultimately get a transplant.

One thing we do know is that this is not an early look at the Countryman facelift which isn’t scheduled to hit the market until 2015.

So the question to our MotoringFile reader is simple. Not what do you think it is but what to you hope it is?

  • Scott

    I’m thinking its the new 3 cylinder engine.  I think a hybrid wouldn’t necessarily mean a smaller exhaust pipe. 

  • KLF23

    I know it’s ridiculous, but you asked what I hoped for: I hope that it is just a Countryman shell and there’s actually a Rocketman under there somewhere that they are testing. I hope that they have realized their error and changed focus away from the Countryman. I find myself reading Motoringfile less and less with all the Countryman news.

  • that.guy

    I attach no hopes to anything in the form of a Countryperson. Color me utterly uninterested.

    • jeff

      interested enough to read and post…   😛

      • that.guy

        Clicked in hoping I might see Countrydude that had been dropped 3″, wheels pushed out at least the same amount with fenders to match, and driven by a twin-turbo 6.

        • MINImofo

          That would be either the CountryYo or the CountryHombre…..

        • that.guy


        • that.guy


  •  I don’t quite understand the need for all the cladding with this one. They should just be stealth about it and slap in the new engine or drivetrain; few people would notice things like one small tailpipe, but things become way more obvious with big black plastic over silly things like the taillights. 

  • Jrichard012

    One thing for certain is that the taillights have bee disguised. Otherwise, not a clue.

  •  It doesn’t make sense for covering it up… Wouldn’t it be better if they kept the original parts and put new engine inside to test? Did they here the engine noise to see what it was since it looks like they were close enough to it?

  • Erwn

    How about they are just testing something in a covered Countyman from pre-launch? Here in Munich you can sometimes see covered models month before the launch of models. They are just to lazy to remove it, sometimes it’s even not possible.

  • KPH

    Whatever is being tested is combined with a dirt test for black. Nothing new there. Actually a clever idea, make the mule so unattractive people tend to look away.

  • CharlieVictor

    Despite all the articles here on MF about how we’re not getting a diesel in the R56-series cars, I’m hoping that the larger Countryman will let us get the SD in the states.

  • 🙂

  •  At the current gas prices, I hope that whatever it is gets even better mileage than the current line up!

  • Anonymous

     I agree with Charlie – Diesel would be great!!

    It also doesn’t make sense why the rear lights would be covered.  If it’s simply a different engine/power system, why would they need a disguise?  Maybe this is just some guy with his new Countryman trying to stir up rumours on the internet… 😉

  • Mikeytoo

    I see one tailpipe but also something that looks like a cutout for another one on the left side. 

  • Kathy

     Hoping it’s a diesel.  Second choice would be a hybrid.  Looking for higher MPG than what the current Countryman has in the U.S..

  • Kathy

     Also hoping the launch of higher mpg Countryman coincides with the availability of the bench seat in September.  Too much to ask for?

  • Kathy

     Also hoping the launch of higher mpg Countryman coincides with the availability of the bench seat in September.  Too much to ask for?

  • mnicpt

     Could it be partially hydrogen powered?