The highly anticipated MINI Countryman crossover originally intended for release in the US in early 2010 has been delayed until late 2010 at the earliest. Our sources are telling us that MINI USA is weighing the market and could decide to delay the launch up to a year pushing the first delivery dates back to early 2011.

While MINI is very happy with the final design and in fact the car itself, they are somewhat cautious about the economic realities of launching such an important car at the moment. MINI sees the Countryman filling a void for those current owners looking to upsize as they grow out of their cars and need something larger. However they want to remain flexible with the exact time to market.

As we reported earlier today the R60 will feature four seats with an optional five seat configuration. The crossover will have four doors plus a hatchback similar to the one found on the R56. Engines will range from the currently 1.6L petrol range to the new 2.0L BMW derived Diesel powerplant. Finally JCW will be releasing not one but two models. The first will feature much of the current technology found in the R56 JCW. However it’s the second that has caught our attention. With reduced weight, all-wheel drive and a hotter JCW engine it will be a surprisingly focused performance car.

But the question is, when will we see it? With the initial launch being delayed as much as a year it could be late 2011 before we see anything from upcoming JCW range.

Look for more information on the Countryman diesel range tomorrow.