As we reported this last spring, the upcoming extended wheelbase MINI (aka the R55) will indeed have a 3rd, suicide like door. This is in contrast to the four door rumor that many publications (including the latest Road & Track) are reporting and in stark contrast to the lack of rear doors on the recent Traveller concept cars. Apparently the issues of more added weight and a required redesign of the fuel filler area helped with the decision.

But having a 3rd door rather than four brings up an interesting issue that will no doubt be talked about in the MINI community for years to come. When there’s only one rear door, position is critical. And as you’d expect MINI will be opting to put the third door (or the coach door as it’s known internally) on the passenger side. Simple right? Well not really. This gets tricky when you consider markets such as the UK and Japan where cars are right-hand drive. And considering BMW is keen to keep costs down on the new long wheelbase R55, there will be no variation on placement of this door. So yes, that means right-hand drive markets will be getting their coach door right behind the driver’s side door.

Increased prototype production will start in the coming months and we should start seeing a great deal more spy photos late this year and early next.

*Notice the taped up left-side on the above photo – this is reportedly to mask the lack of a 4th door.