10/09/2008 00:00 | By By Dan Trent

Official: new Mini 4x4 concept

New Mini 4x4 concept (© Image © BMW)

A Mini Crossover Concept you say? There must be a motor show coming up soon...

And of course there is, with the Paris Mondial de l'Automobile opening its doors in a matter of weeks.

GALLERY: Mini's new 4X4 Crossover

New Mini 4x4 concept (© Image © BMW)

Crossover is one of those words you hear bandied about a lot at motor shows, as carmakers compete for column inches and the attention of show goers. And in Mini terms it translates as jacking up a Clubman estate onto a 4x4 chassis and adding concept car essentials like over elaborate door opening mechanisms and a futuristic interior.

Blending two types of car can work - the coupé/saloon Mercedes CLS and SUV/hatchback Nissan Qashqai being two recent examples that have made it into successful production reality. But two into one doesn't always go, especially when it comes to grafting SUV pretensions onto an already distinctive and recognisable design. Porsche Cayenne, anyone?

New Mini 4x4 concept (© Image © BMW)

Where the word crossover appears 'lifestyle appeal' follows swiftly behind and, sure enough, Mini boasts its new SUV concept is just the ticket for carrying 'skis, snowboards and surfboards', thanks to those aforementioned novelty rear doors. At least they've put them on both sides, unlike the Clubman.

And at over four metres long (even the Clubman is only 3.9 metres long) the Crossover stands a decent chance of being the first Mini big enough to accommodate more than two trendy urbanites in one sitting. The first true family Mini? It would appear so.

New Mini 4x4 concept (© Image © BMW)

BMW has confirmed plans to build a 4x4 Mini, referring to it as an X6-style Sports Activity Vehicle. It will be built by Austrian off-road specialists Magna Steyr now that Mini's Oxford plant is at full capacity and running gear will likely be shared with the proposed BMW X1. The new car will be distinctively Mini in design though.

The interior of the Crossover Concept is certainly distinctive too, with a prominent central 'rail' running the full length of the cabin for storing the kind of trinkets Mini drivers hold dear, such as media players and fancy coffees. Then there's the somewhat wacky Mini Centre Globe, dominating the middle of the dashboard.

The car is started by installing a 'keyball' into the globe, which can then handle separate infotainment displays for the driver and front passenger. The driver gets a track ball in the steering wheel and the passenger a slide-out keyboard for surfing the net on the move. A production reality? We'll see...

More pictures of the Mini Crossover concept
Driven: Mini Clubman
Driven: Mini John Cooper Works
We drive the new racing Mini
Twin test: Renaultsport Clio 197 v Mini Cooper S


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