In four months MINI will release a five seat car in the US. Yes MINI will be debuting the five seat MINI Countryman in the US for the 2012 model year. What does this mean and why has it taken so long? As we’ve reported previously US crash standards didn’t allow for the three seat bench due to the width of the Countryman. However after some lobbying by BMW, the NHTSA changed those standards earlier this year and is allowing MINI to sell the 5 seat configuration for 2012.

Yes that means MINI has gone from a two door four passenger vehicle to a four door five seater. But let’s get past MINI getting slightly bigger and focus on what this adds to the Countryman. (Full gallery after the break)

A middle seat means child seats in an ideal position. It means easy access to the back and a better set-up for pet owners as well. In short it means more versatility and that’s something many Americans tend to like in their cross-overs.

There’s no word on what, if anything, it will cost. Either way look for the bench seat to an option starting with US September production on the Countryman.