Update: We’ll have a bit more on this tomorrow.

This just in! We’ve received word from Gabe at the MINI 2011 Launch Event that the rear bench seat for the Countryman will be an available option for the US market. This means that a 5-seater Countryman is now an option if the rear buckets aren’t enough for your people-moving needs. Previous NHTSA regulations mandated a minimum seat width for rear seat passengers that the Countryman bench seat didn’t meet, albeit just barely. Rather than re-engineer a US-only rear bench seat, MINI opted to wait for a probable change in the regulations.

The wait paid off. Our sources are telling us that back in March, the NHTSA updated the minimum width regulation and the OEM Countryman bench seat is now compliant. While the rear bucket seats will remain the R60’s standard equipment, expect the bench option to become available in the next 6-8 months.

So how would you roll the rear seats in your Countryman? Bench or buckets?