ORIGINALLY BELIEVED to be heading to a global debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show later this month, it appears MINI's upcoming Countryman crossover may not surface until well into next year, possibly at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show.
British car mag Autocar reports that BMW-owned MINI is instead focusing its immediate efforts on smaller models, rather than branching out into the competitive crossover segment with its BMW X1-based CUV.
"The Crossover launch has been pushed back as we wish to first explore differentiation within future MINI smaller models and get feedback," a MINI spokesman in the USA said.
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).
The production model is expected to share the regular MINI's transversely-mounted powerplants, however drive will be taken to all four wheels via an AWD system, instead of just the front axle.
The Countryman - when we eventually see it 'in the metal' - will also be larger than the MINI Cooper in every dimension, being a five-door hatch of a similar size to the upcoming BMW X1.