After yesterday's leak there was no point in keeping the new Countryman under wraps so MINI went ahead and released initial details and a full gallery of its first-ever crossover model. Bear in mind that the BMW Group owned automaker noted that the car may not be named Countryman in certain markets without giving out any further details.
The Countryman is not only the British firm's first-ever crossover, it's also the first modern MINI to have four doors, an available all-wheel-drive system, four full-size seats and to measure around four meters in length.
The styling inside and out is unmistakably MINI, with the Countryman trying to stand out from the rest of the range with its chunkier nose job, raised ride height and some unique styling cues such as the headlamps and the alloy wheel designs.
The company said that driver gets a slightly elevated seating position while a new feature inside is the MINI Center Rail that extends from front to rear allowing anything from a cupholder and sunglasses to audio devices and an armrest to be attached and slid wherever they are required.
The Countryman comes as standard with four seats, but a three-seat bench is available as a no-cost option.
According to MINI, the rear seats can move fore-and-aft either individually or in a 60 : 40 (three-seat bench) split, the backrests may be tilted for angle either individually or in a 40 : 20 : 40 (three-seat bench) arrangement, increasing capacity in the luggage compartment from 350 to 1,170 liters (12.2–41.0 cu ft).
When the Countryman goes on sale in Europe this fall (North America in early 2011), it will enter the market with a choice of three petrol and two diesel engines, extending from the 90HP turbo diesel in the One D to a 184HP 1.6-liter four-cylinder petrol with a twin-scroll turbocharger and direct fuel injection in the rang-topping Cooper S.
All versions will come equipped with Brake Energy Regeneration, Auto Start Stop system and a gearshift point indicator.
MINI said that as an alternative to the six-speed manual gearbox featured as standard, the petrol engine models will also be available with six-speed automatic tranmission.
As an option, the Cooper S and Cooper D models will be available with MINI's ALL4 permanent all-wheel drive system that uses an electrohydraulic differential positioned directly on the final drive varying the distribution from front to rear.
Under normal driving conditions, the system sends up to 50 per cent of the engine's power to each axle, but in more extreme situations, up to 100 per cent can be sent to the rear wheels.
As with the rest of the MINI models, the Countryman will be offered with a wide range of customisation and equipment options on both the exterior and interior including an extra-large Panorama roof.
The official presentation of the Countryman will take place at the Geneva Salon in March, 2010.