Yesterday, MINI released a short video featuring the all-new MINI Countryman. Unfortunately, the car and its surroundings were covered in BMW's flamboyantly psychedelic black-and-yellow camouflage. Now MINI has released a barrage of details and images for its all-new crossover, officially named the 2011 MINI Cooper Countryman (although this name may change in different markets). As previewed a duo of recent concept vehicles, including the MINI Beachcomber Concept that was unveiled at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the all-new MINI Cooper Countryman will mark the fourth model in MINI's lineup when it arrives later this year. Like BMW, MINI's parent company, MINI refers to the 2011 Countryman as a Sports Activity Vehicle like the BMW X1, BMW X3, BMW X5 and BMW X6.
MINI did a great job giving the 2011 Countryman crossover-sized dimensions, but it still has the unmistakable look and shape of the MINI Cooper models. From the proportions of each body panel to the iconic two-tone paint job, MINI did its best to make the Countryman look as much like a raised-up Cooper as possible. Just about every aspect of the Countryman is inspired by the Cooper models including the forward-opening hood with integrated headlamps, the rounded wheel arches and the vertical taillights. Even the roofline is rounded like its smaller counterparts, yet it is tall enough to allow for plenty of interior space. Both models of the MINI Countryman in the official photographs featured contrasting colors on the roof with matching wheels.
Instead of the Jeep Wrangler-like open cabin of the Beachcomber Concept, the production version of the Countryman will feature four conventional doors with fully framed windows and a liftgate rather than a side-hinged door (as hinted at by the 2008 MINI Crossover Concept). To fit in with other MINI vehicles, the 2011 Countryman features a dinner-plate-sized speedometer in the middle of the instrument panel and a tachometer behind the steering wheel. The Countryman will come standard with a four-passenger seating configuration, but a three-passenger rear bench seat will be a no-charge option. Advanced cabin technology is also likely to be offered on the Countryman models. Besides the stylish two-tone interior trim, one of the cooler aspects of the four-passenger model is the MINI Center Rail system.
The Center Rail system features two aluminum rails that run the length of the passenger compartment (on four-passenger models) to create a unique layout for storage and cupholders. This system not only improves the aesthetics of the cabin with a stylish divider for all four passengers, but it also adds to the versatility of the cabin by creating flexible storage areas. As for cargo storage, the Countryman has a cargo volume of 12.2 cubic feet with the rear seat in place, but this capacity is increased to 41 cubic feet when the seat is folded.
All Countryman models are designed with a rigid body structure that includes load-resistant barriers, a passenger safety cell and six airbags. Other standard safety features include dynamic stability control, electronic brake force distribution with brake assist, four-wheel ABS, cornering brake control and hill start assist.
The biggest variable for the U.S.-spec MINI Countryman will be what powers the little crossover. According to the press release MINI divulged today, the Countryman will offer five different engines including three gasoline engine and two turbocharged diesel engines. All engines feature a 1.6-liter displacement, but vary significantly in terms of tuning for much different results when it comes to performance and fuel economy. At the fuel-efficient end of the scale, the Cooper One D Countryman features a 90 horsepower diesel engine, while the Cooper S Countryman has 184 horsepower and is the only model to break the 10-second mark when it comes to 0-60 mile per hour acceleration (around 7.4 seconds). All Countryman models come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, but the non-diesel models also offer a six-speed automatic with Steptronic and paddle shifters on the steering wheel. MINI says that all Countryman models feature brake energy regeneration and start/stop technology to improve fuel economy and reduce exhaust emissions, but it's not clear whether or not these features will be available on U.S.-spec models.
As far as the suspension goes, the Countryman has four-wheel independent setup with MacPherson struts up front and multi-link suspension in the rear. The MINI Cooper S Countryman will come standard with a sport suspension that lowers the car by about a half inch, but this will be available as an option on all other models. For added handling and performance, the 2011 MINI Countryman will also be available with the full range of John Cooper Works performance parts. Electric power steering also helps to improve the handling abilities of the MINI Countryman. The MINI Countryman will come standard with front-wheel drive, but it will also offer MINI's ALL4 all-wheel drive system that can transfer up to 100 percent of the engine's power to the rear wheels. Short overhangs and a decent ground clearance should help make the Cooper Countryman as impressive off-road as it is likely to be on pavement.
MINI will debut the all-new Cooper Countryman crossover in March at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, and it is also expected to announce pricing, packages and on-sale dates for Europe and the U.S.