Mike Stevens | Dec 18, 2009

WHILE THE NEW MINI Crossover isn't expected to debut until late next year, the carmaker's new Beachcomber concept offers a glimpse of what is to come. Our new rendering (above) builds on the Beachcomber's styling to preview the Crossover's possible look.

Before the CUV has even been unveiled, new reports out of the UK this week suggest that BMW will look to enter the World Rally Championship with a high-performance version of the Crossover.

According to UK magazine Autocar, BMW has commissioned British tuning house Prodrive - responsible for Subaru's WRC entries - to prepare the Crossover for competition.

If it does compete, the new Crossover won't be the first MINI/Mini to make an attack on the rally code. In 1964, factory-backed Mini teams ruled the dirt over larger Ford Falcon and Citroen DS entries.

Ironically, the 2010 Citroen DS3 is expected to enter the World Rally Championship from 2011, reigniting the MINI and Citroen battle.

MINI’s delaying of the Crossover lends credence to recent rumours that the shapely Coupe Concept may become MINI’s next production model and not the high-riding Countryman.

The Countryman badge has a history with the original Austin Mini, originally appearing on the long-wheelbase wagon variants of the 1960s-era microcar.

Given BMW-owned MINI’s recent revivals of other Mini names (Clubman, anyone?), the Countryman name would seem to be an apt choice for the new crossover.

Pre-production prototypes have been spotted completing trials around the globe, and styling is expected to be faithful to that of the MINI Crossover Concept shown late last year at the Paris Motor Show (below).

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