(This news was originally press embargoed until tomorrow evening but with several sites breaking the agreed upon embargo we thought it was necessary to post.)

Today we get our first (very good) look what will be the biggest extension of the MINI brand to date. While we’re still weeks away from the public debut of the new MINI cross-over “concept” at the upcoming Paris motor show, BMW has released the first official photos of the highly anticipated MINI cross-over concept.

Note the word concept and remember how BMW traditionally uses this word. In some cases they use it to show-off very conceptual designs that subtly point the way forward. In other cases they use the word for vehicles that are very lightly disguises production vehicles. We believe the MINI cross-over concept falls in the latter category. We’ll have more details in the coming hours, until enjoy.

While there are some interesting features that we’ll leave for the official press release, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention a few of them. If you look closely above you can see that the left side rear door is actually not a traditional door but a scissor like sliding door seen earlier on the MINI concept from 2006 and 2007. And while the exterior may be very close to production, don’t expect the funky speedo and navigation to make it to production before 2020.

Elsewhere (under the skin) the MINI cross-over rides on a modified Clubman platform with bits and pieces from BMW’s upcoming small cross-over the X1. Look for an optional all-wheel drive system and some very familiar engines.

The MINI Crossover should go on sale in late 2010 as a 2011 model.

As always, click on each image for larger versions. And for those who like to zoom, you can download the (very) large 2400 px versions here. Look for a few more photos in a few hours.

Front | Rear View | Interior