Spy photos obtained this week reveal what appears to be a MINI Clubman-based hybrid out testing, but already there are questions as to its legitimacy. MINI has yet to reveal any plans for a hybrid model - and of all things, green technology is not a subject that MINI or its BMW parent has ever been coy about.
Speaking with press earlier this year, MINI USA's vice president of marketing, Jim McDowell said that while the MINI E electric car has proven to be a "great experiment" for the company, customers shouldn't get their hopes up on a hybrid.
Whether McDowell was speaking in an official capacity, ruling hybrid models out for the German-owned British brand, is another matter.
Whatever the case may be, the question remains: what is MINI testing if not a hybrid model? The body is that of a Clubman S, albeit on lower suspension. Behind the JCW-like front bumper sits an intercooler, and oddly-flared side skirts stand out on both sides of the car.
If the Hybrid Drive stickers are nothing more than a ploy to throw the media off the trail, the spied Clubman could potentially be a test mule for a future MINI or BMW model, unrelated to the Clubman itself - perhaps the upcoming MINI Coupe and Roadster models.