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There has been much debate inside MINI as to what direction that automaker would go with its next crossover model. Executives, designers and engineers were reportedly stuck between a production version of the Beachcomber Concept, or a two-door version of the Countryman, initially referred to as the Canyon.
That decision has, however, been made for the MINI team, with the Beachcomber concept being axed due to its inability to meet crash tests. Reportedly, the vehicle would need added crash protection on the sides, which would have killed the styling of the dune-buggy.
GALLERY: MINI Beachcomber Concept
After the positive reception given to the Beachcomber concept, MINI is interested in bringing a similar model to market, but one that could take the form of a 3-door Countryman. According to BMW company insider Scott27, MINI just doesn’t see a market for the Beachcomber concept, due to its 4-doors and niche-market appeal – namely, guys with suftboards.
Originally discussed back in 2005, this Sport Activity Vehicle would use a shortened version of the Countryman’s current platform, and it’s All4 all-wheel drive system. It could go by the name of the MINI Canyon. For inspiration, MINI designers are reportedly using the new Land Rover Evoque.
The MINI Canyon is still only in the design stages, but it’s suggested that a production model might not be that far off. After all, it’s hard to forget the words of MINI brand manager Dr Wolfgang Armbrecht when he said that, “MINI will never show a concept that won’t make production.”
MINI appears ready to expand its product lineup some more with the addition of the Beachcomber. First shown at the Detroit Auto Show this year, the Beachcomber Concept rides on the Countryman’s new crossover platform and takes inspiration from the tiny Moke model, which the brand offered from 1964 to 1993.
In an interview with AutoExpress, MINI brand manager Dr Wolfgang Armbrecht hinted at the vehicles production plans stating that, “We will come back to this to see if there is a business basis, as we were overwhelmed by the reaction. MINI will never show a concept that won’t make production.”
Now there isn’t a lot of competition for a vehicle like the Beachcomber, although the Jeep Wrangler could be considered a rival and lower down on the scale there’s the possibility that Kia could finally bring its Soul’Ster to production as well.
MINI’s new Countryman crossover hasn’t even officially debuted and yet the creative minds at the fun British car company have already turned the platform into a new concept: the MINI Beachcomber Concept.
Based on the Countryman’s platform, the MINI Beachcomber Concept takes the crossover’s capable ALL4 all-wheel drive system and sets it free on the sand-dunes with a dune-buggy style, plus the open air Jeep-like feeling of no doors or roof.
The concept also takes cues from the original MINI Moke, especially the lack of sheetmetal and the radiator style grille.
MINI won’t comment on production possibilities, but even if it does make it to market, it won’t be for a while. The Countryman crossover is set to debut first. MINI has promised more news on that new model in a month’s time, with the vehicle’s official on-sale date set for late 2010 in Europe and early 2011 in the U.S.
GALLERY: MINI Beachcomber Concept Debut in Detroit
With MINI almost set to unveil its Countryman Crossover, the British brand is already looking towards its next project with the MINI Beachcomber Concept. This open-air vehicle is based on the same underpinnings as the Countryman: the Crossover Concept. It also features the brand’s new ALL4 all-wheel drive system, which is expected in the Countryman.
Previous reports pointed towards the Beachcomber as being something like the MINI Moke, and for the most part the analogy seems correct. And with no doors and an open roof, it’s easy to make the comparison to Jeep’s Wrangler – although we’re sure the sporty MINI brand won’t deliver the same sort of off-road capability. As for a powerplant, it’s likely to house the same turbocharged 1.6-liter four-banger already shared across the MINI lineup.
MINI hasn’t said anything about the possibility that the Beachcomber could see production and while it does seem far-fetched, certain elements are likely to make their way into special editions of the Countryman. For our part, we’d like to see this toy make it to the streets – if for no other reason than to see if it really can hop a sand dune. That, and it just looks like a lot of fun to drive.
We’ll be sure to bring you more details on this concept when it officially debuts at the Detroit Auto Show in a few weeks time.
GALLERY: MINI Beachcomber Concept
Official release after the jump: