From MINI Press:

>”We will be enhancing the MINI family with a further model.” With these words Dr. Michael Ganal, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG and responsible for Sales and Marketing, today confirmed at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit that the family of sporty little cars from England is about to grow yet again.

>The new MINI model will offer increased interior space and increased functionality in order to appeal to the distinctively experience-oriented and active MINI customer. The new car will take its inspiration from the MINI Detroit design concept shown at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Although it has yet to be defined which of the unique ideas and design features presented on the concept will be implemented for series production, Dr. Michael Ganal in his speech at the NAIAS stated a time frame of three years for the realization of the new MINI model.

>Unique Design, Driving Fun and Individualization.
Like MINI’s hard-top and convertible models, the new model will display all the essential MINI characteristics – unique design, pure driving fun and Individualization in a premium small car. These core MINI traits will be strengthened with smart solutions for additional utility space and even greater functionality, an idea which will appeal particularly to an active target group. The additional model will expand MINI’s product offering and promote the continued success of the MINI brand. To date, more than 700,000 units of the current MINI models have been sold, and for the first time within one year, over 200,000 units were produced in 2005.

>Inspiration From the 1960 Mini Traveller
The inspiration for the MINI Traveller Concept in Detroit and the upcoming production model extends back to the swinging sixties, when Mini first caused a sensation on the road and the racetrack. With a longer wheelbase, slightly raised roofline, sliding side windows and split doors at the rear these new Mini models went on sale from the autumn of 1960 as the Mini Traveller, the Mini Countryman and later also the Mini Clubman Estate. With the increased utility and room for gear, these models were popular as an agile and stylish companion for extended trips and spontaneous leisure activities.

Motoringfile Analysis: Thus ends one of the worst kept secrets in the auto industry. MINI will indeed be making a long wheel base version of the MINI based off of the next generation platform. Based on what the automotive press has been saying, we should see this new iteration publicly debut in the latter half of 2007 and go on sale later that year as an ’08 model. That means we chould see it on the roads in less than two years. The three years timeframe that Dr. Ganal mentioned may be referencing from the begining of developement to dealer lots. That development can be traced back to as early as 2004 based on spy photos.

Based on what our sources have been telling us we should expect a normal hatch, standard driver and passenger doors, and one or two small additional doors for rear passengers. We should also expect a few styling tweaks to further set it apart from the standard models. But the key selling point of the stretched version will undoubtedly be more rear legroom and a larger boot for those that find the current car a little cramped for their needs. Naturally we’ll have all the latest on the upcoming model in the weeks and months ahead.