Set to bow at next month's Paris Auto Show, the MINI Crossover Concept will provide an early look at a new, as yet unnamed model that's due to join the MINI portfolio sometime in 2010. About 13 feet long with a 102.6-inch wheelbase, this slick micro-utility vehicle will be the largest to ever wear a MINI badge. While retaining plenty of the basic design DNA, it incorporates a number of innovative touches that set it apart from the Clubman, including MINI's first all-wheel-drive system. This cheeky one-off features an asymmetric design that has two conventional doors on the passenger side but a larger front door and a smaller sliding "doorlette" on the driver's side. At the rear, a single-piece side-hinged tailgate replaces the Clubman's split barn-door treatment.
Inside, the Crossover Concept expands on the distinctive MINI styling themes with loads of clever touches that may or may not be part of the final production package. Heading up the likely list are four individual bucket seats that are fully contoured and offer fore/aft travel adjustments plus fold-down capability. Another slick feature is a prominent central aluminum rail that runs the length of the cabin and allows things like storage bins or cupholders to be installed and repositioned as needed.
One bit of admittedly cool hyper tech that's less likely to make it to the production mix is something MINI refers to as the Center Globe. Employing state-of-the-art laser projection technology, this multifunctional, three-dimensional extension of the existing main instrument cluster theme integrates all major entertainment, telecommunication and navigation functions as well as providing a speedometer display on its outer circumference. Describing its bounty of wondrous capabilities consumes no less than 10 paragraphs in the press release. But in the final cost analysis, we suspect that it will remain in the concept-only column for now. Even so, MINI fans have a lot to look forward to with the arrival of its volume-build counterpart. The new CUVs added size and capabilities should play equally well with the cadre of currently secret admirers who embrace the MINI mentality but need a vehicle that provides more space and flexibility than the Clubman.