And a little more. The latest issue of Autocar gives us a glimpse at what could be a slightly longer new MINI. Here's an excerpt:

These exclusive shots show an engineering prototype undergoing early road tests. The extent of the stretch can be seen for the first time from the modications made to the bodywork behind the rear wheels.

It would have been too expensive and time consuming to stretch the MINI's wheelbase (as well as requiring costly changes to the production line), so it appears that the little extra length has been grafted in behind the rear wheels in an attempt to improve on the car's dire boot space.

Also later in the same article there's a mention of what we may see from JCW on the next MINI:

Sources have told Autocar that the Works version of the blown Cooper (S) engine should be good for 230bhp.

Now before everyone recoils in horror at the thought of a larger MINI, let's remember Autocar's track record with this type of information. For all we know this could be the formative testing of a long wheel base MINI or even something else entirely different. In fact the only thing that we can know for sure from these photos (which probably are more informative than Autocar's actual article) is that MINI engineers seem to like their testing mules painted as black as possible.

You can read the entire article in the 1/11/05 edition of Autocar available throughout the UK.