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Mini To Split Countryman Into Family MPV And SUV

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On: Thu, Jul 12, 2012 at 10:52AM | By: Chris Weiss

Mini To Split Countryman Into Family MPV And SUV

Mini has realized that its Countryman isn't all that well defined. According to a new report, the BMW minicar brand plans to rectify the situation by replacing the Countryman with two separate models. It will introduce a family-hauling MPV and a harder, more believable SUV.

Though the Mini Countryman has been defined as a crossover, and it comes with optional all-wheel drive, it's a bit hard to accept an elongated, five-door Cooper as a true crossover. And it's not really a family hauler for grown up Mini fanatics, either. For all intents and purposes, it's basically just the awkward largest car in a brand that's defined by tiny cars.

According to Autocar, Mini will introduce a new MPV codenamed the Spacebox. This car will be laid out and marketed as a family car, leaving the Countryman to focus on being a through-and-through SUV. The next-generation Countryman will employ more rugged looks and should be recognizable as an SUV, unlike the current Mini five-door. It will share architecture with the BMW X1.

The Spacebox, meanwhile, will be designed as a family car, not just a bigger, four-door Cooper. There's no word on exactly what that will entail, but we'd imagine it will have to have seating for at least five and a flexible layout that maximizes capabilities for hauling family and belongings. It may need to grow a little, too, and maybe it'll borrow some equipment from the Clubvan. Maybe not.

Of course, as its line expands to encompass more vehicles of a larger build, Mini is slowly abandoning its heritage of being mini. Some critics already believe it sold out by making the Countryman, so a pair of larger models, both of which sound even less Mini-like than the current Countryman, should rattle the cages even more.

Then again, since when is any automaker all that concerned with selling out when there are (SUV-derived) profits to be made? Plus, Mini fans can look to the upcoming Countryman Coupe, which will debut at the Paris Motor Show, as proof that all is not lost.


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