2008 Paris Auto Show: Mini Crossover Concept
Not just a radically re-designed Mini, the Mini Crossover concept is a general idea of the MINI suv that will join the Cooper and Clubman in the 2011 lineup. Slightly longer than current Minis, the Crossover concept puts power down through all four wheels, but the most notable touches among many are the four individual seats and the unconventional door arrangement. On the driver's side, which does not have a pillar behind the door, the rear door lifts and slides along the outside of the body for easy access to the rear seats or for loading luggage. The rear hatch swivels to one side to show the generous amount of room, especially when the rear seats are folded, while a folding cover extends the entire length of the roof.
Why it Matters
The mini-crossover segment is rapidly expanding as more and more SUV owners flee from their dino-ooze sucking barges for more economical means of transportation that still offer some semblance of utility. BMW and Mini are counting on the diminutive car-based utility market to be big and want to make sure they stake out a big piece of it with the Mini Crossover Concept. BMW has done miraculous things to the Mini brand since it was relaunched in 2001, bringing us the Cooper, Cooper Convertible and Cooper Clubman, not to mention the fun-to-drive S versions of all three. The Crossover offers all the Mini cuteness and quirkiness with a dash of off pavement capability.
What it Looks Like
The Mini Crossover Concept looks like the lovechild from a drunken one night stand between an Infiniti FX and a MINI Cooper. It's more rounded, has more bulges and comes with a grille only a mother could love, but does still retain the basic Mini styling cues. It's very polarizing, and Mini purists who already despise the BMW era of Mini-ism will likely view it as an abomination. But there will be those who want the Mini cache but need more utility than one what the marque has offered thus far and will find it…dare we say…charming?
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Inside the Crossover, the Mini's quirky interior characteristics will continue by still offering the funky toggle switches and an over-sized speedometer that can be viewed through the rear window by the car behind you. A new feature for the Crossover Concept is what Mini calls the center rail which allows for additional storage and Mini claims aids in passing item to rear passengers while driving.
What We Think
On looks alone, we're mixed about the Mini Crossover Concept. Sure, it is not a pretty car by any stretch of the definition of pretty. However, there is a certain "so ugly, it's cool" appeal to it. Yet we've unanimously liked the looks of other Minis but were just as divided on how they performed. We can say no one at MyRide has ever gone to bat for the Mini's interior and comfort, but sometimes we're willing to forego a little comfort and oddities for performance. We'll have to leave our final decision until we get behind the wheel, but for now we have to say we're not feeling the love.
By Vernon Heywood and Greg Brown
Photo credit: Greg Brown
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