Spy shots show that the new Countryman will betray its history more than ever before.
Being in the motor industry, we often write stories we hope are not true. One such case was a recent report on the next-generation Mini Countryman in which sources claimed that, by virtue of being built on BMW's new FAAR platform, it would be bigger than ever before and closer in size to the BMW X1. Mini aficionados had hoped this wasn't the case, but our spy photographers have now captured Mini Countryman prototypes out in the open, confirming the earlier report. The development mules are still heavily camouflaged, indicating that they are in an early stage of development, but it still gives us some indication of what to expect.
The most obviously visible detail is that the new Countryman is massive. The camo cladding used does not include large buffers, which means these proportions are ironed out and will likely remain unchanged. Expect a 7.5-inch increase in length over the current model, making the new Countryman approximately 177 inches long. We can see a substantial C-pillar and a large rear quarter window. These changes seem to suggest that the future Countryman will more closely rival the Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class instead of the GLA as is currently the case. It seems unlikely, however, that the Countryman will get a third row of seating.
Other details visible include a radar eye on the center portion of the front grille. This makes sense as BMW will be integrating more safety features and autonomous driving functionality going forward, which will require the use of these sensors.
The test unit photographed here has a functional front grille and no hybrid/electric car test sticker, which indicates it is a combustion-only model. Underpinned by the FAAR platform, itself an adaptation of the front-wheel-drive BMW UKL platform currently used for the Countryman, X1, X2, and 2 Series Gran Coupe, the new Countryman will be available with both combustion and electric powertrains.
Earlier reports suggested that a plug-in hybrid would be available, however our sources now indicate this will not be the case. The new Countryman will be strictly ICE or electric, and both will be sold alongside one another. The gas-powered version will mirror the engine lineup in the X1, which means a range of three-and four-cylinder turbo engines globally, with the latter likely to appear in the US. A JCW version will also share an engine with BMW's hot X1 M.
According to our sources close to BMW in Germany, Mini will be reviving the Paceman moniker for a coupe version of the Countryman. Expect this to be closer in proportion to the BMW X2. When it is revealed - expect the covers to come off next year and the Countryman to launch as a 2023 model year - the Countryman will go into production alongside the X1 at BMW's Leipzig plant in Germany, while the electric version will be built alongside the electric iX1 in Regensburg.