Automakers commonly use concept vehicles and auto shows to gauge interest in particular designs or preview upcoming models. The latter usually involves a thin disguise or outlandish vehicle accessories in an attempt to hide the true identity of the vehicle. For MINI, it will reveal the Beachcomber Concept at 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit to ramp up enthusiasm for the upcoming MINI Crossover.
Don't let the open side doors roof and rear liftgate area fool you, this Beachcomber Concept is a closer hint at the production version of MINI's crossover that is expected out later next year. Looking very similar to the 2008 MINI Crossover Concept, the newest MINI concept opens to some fresh air courtesy of the Jeep Wrangler-like design. Looking at the 2010 MINI Beachcomber Concept, it doesn't take much imagination to picture what the production MINI Crossover (the official naming has yet to be determined) will look like with solid body panels and a four-door layout.
One apparent design element that will be present on the production crossover is the MINI signature clamshell hood. The entire hood and headlights will rise to reveal the engine compartment, while the grille and integrated fog lights will remain attached to the front fascia. From the rear of the concept, it isn't likely that the production crossover will utilize the liftgate-mounted spare tire, but it sure does add a more rugged look in this form. Some of the drawings previewed by MINI show split rear doors similar to the MINI Clubman although the live pictures seems to favor a single piece, swing out tailgate. The production MINI Crossover will likely use a more conventional liftgate like most other crossovers on the road.
The layout of the instrument panel is a good estimation of what the real crossover would use right down to the large central speedometer as found on the current MINI lineup. Making the most of its compact size, the MINI Beachcomber Concept features two rows of bucket seats for a four-passenger layout, but this will likely give way to a more user friendly five-passenger layout.
Powertrain specs aren't available for the MINI Beachcomber Concept or the production MINI Crossover, but it is common knowledge that the MINI will share its underpinnings with the 2010 BMW X1. Like the all-new BMW crossover, MINI's model will likely use BMW's 3.0-liter inline-6 that produces 258 horsepower and 228 lb-ft of torque. Diesel engines will be available in the BMW X1 and could carry over into the MINI Crossover very easily. Judging by the concept's short overhangs and tall ground clearance, the production crossover should have decent off-road capabilities with which to fully utilize its all-wheel drive layout.
In addition to the MINI Cooper, MINI Cooper Convertible and MINI Cooper Clubman, the upcoming MINI Crossover will be the fourth model in the brand's lineup. The production version of the new crossover is likely to go on display at one of this spring's auto shows, and the production will begin later in the fall as a 2011 model.