Janauary 20, 2010
Would you like a 5 door, all wheel drive MINI? BMW thought you would and so they have cooked up just such a car. With four doors and a big hatch in back, getting people and things into and out of the MINI Countryman has never been easier. The top of the line 184 hp turbocharged engine with direct fuel injection offers fully variable valve timing for the first time. An available ALL4 all wheel drive system divides power equally to the front and rear wheels in normal driving, but the electronic differential can send up to 100% of the driving force to the rear wheels when needed.
Inside, the Countryman offers seating for four. A three passenger bench seat can be ordered instead of the two rear bucket seats at no charge. With the rear seat backs folded, carrying capacity jumps from 12 cubic feet to just over 40 cubic feet, more than enough room to carry all your stuff. Instead of the traditional center console, this MINI offers a center rail that extends into the rear seat area with lots of storage boxes, cupholders, and places for mobile telephones and other electronica.
BMW has been trying to keep a lid on the new model, but yesterday low res spy shots of the Countryman began whizzing around the internet and so the company decided to release these official photos. Sharp eyed observers will notice the fender flares all around, larger headlights and redesigned hood compared to other MINI models. The car also rides somewhat higher and the seats are raised slightly as well.
Pricing in the US has not been announced, but it is expected the Countryman will retail for around $29,000 for the front wheel drive model with the base 1.6 liter engine. The Cooper S with ALL4 awd should begin at around $34,000. The Countryman will debut officially at the Geneva Auto Show in March and should be available in showrooms in the fall.
Purists will argue that this newest MINI is a far cry from the original. It will be heavier and slower with less athletic reflexes than the “real” MINI. But it will also make owning a MINI possible for those folks who find the regular models too small for their lifestyle. BMW would dearly love to leverage the MINI brand into a full line of vehicles. There are already several models of the standard car plus the Clubman with its two rear doors and the all electric MINI e. With its larger cabin and all wheel drive, the Countryman is a logical next step up the ladder. When you hear rumors about the new MINI pickup truck, then you will know that things have really gotten out of hand.
This story was originally reported by Motor Authority.com. Photos: MINI
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