With the MINI SUV less than two years away from it’s on-sale date, development is picking up at a rapid pace. While MINI Design is busy crafting overall look of the car, engineers are beginning the process of road testing the initial test mules. What we see above is likely the most mechanically complete test vehicle BMW has produced to date. Covered in a crude steel skin, the tester’s only purpose is to allow engineers to gather data on the drivetrain and suspension components and hone them for production.

The previous test mule we’ve seen in and around Munich was heavily based on Clubman and featured only certain components destined for the new SUV. What we see above (despite appearances) is probably much further along the development cycle.

The photos here (and published on both Jalopnik and Leftlanenews (the latter being where these come from) are the first evidence that MINI has fully designed and built (at least in prototype form) the suspension and drivetrain for what looks to be the MINI SUV or R60. As we reported a few weeks back, the R60 (as it’s internally code-named) will be feature major portions of the current R55 up front along with some key X1 (the forth-coming small BMW SUV) components in the rear. Looking closely at the second photo we can clearly see a version of MINI’s current z-link rear suspension along with a black plastic flap almost certainly covering up the secrets of MINI’s new AWD system. A system which will be exclusive to the R60 and not seen on other MINI models.

You can check out further photos below:

[ Weirdest MINI Mule Ever ] Jalopnik.com

[ Mystery MINI Mule Spied ] Leftlanenews.com

[ Section: Spy Shots/Renderings ] WindingRoad.com