16 December 2009

Revenge of the Moke

Mini’s Beachcomber concept previews next year’s production crossover, has more holes than Royal St Andrews

Mini Beachcomber concept

Next autumn, Mini will release a four-wheel-drive crossover. It may be called the Crossover. It may be called the Countryman. It may be called something else entirely.
 
It shall look something - though not exactly - like this holey beast. In a bid to drum up excitement ahead of the launch of the Crossover/Countryman/Something Else Entirely, Mini has created this, the Beachcomber concept. It will debut at the Detroit show in January and gives a few clues about the styling of the production crossover.
 
Described by Mini's design boss Gert Hildebrand as 'an ideas car' (hmmm), the Beachcomber is a doorless four-seater combining design cues from the 1964 Mini Moke with four-wheel-drive underpinnings and Mini's tried-and-tested 1.6-litre turbo engine.
 
The lack of doors, fear not, shall be rectified by the time the crossover reaches production. The Beachcomber's wide open spaces can be filled, says Mini, with fitted plastic inserts and waterproof covers. But the production car will definitely get real doors made of, like, metal and stuff.
 
But the basic proportions should stay: the Beachcomber is around 14cm longer than the Clubman, and sits on a wheelbase 6cm longer. So hardly Mini, then.
 
As for the Moke-invoking heritage, we have to admit it leaves us a bit cold. The Moke was a deeply utilitarian thing, a car stripped back to its essentials: a beach deckchair, if you will (the Moke's seats, in fact, were bare fabric affairs), whereas the Beachcomber is luxed up to the max, a La-Z-Boy recliner perhaps. Er, with the armrests removed.
 
Still, no denying there's plenty to look at, from all of those holes to the neoprene upholstery to that imposing front end to the spare wheel cover. That's a lot of stuff going on right there. A lot of stuff.
 
We'll get a better look at the Beachcomber in January before Mini's production crossover arrives later in the year. Thoughts?

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