Speculation has been rampant in recent weeks that January's Detroit Auto Show would play host to an even smaller MINI, bringing the badge back to its roots.
Instead, MINI has today revealed its latest fantasy, the Paceman concept.
In simple terms, MINI has chopped the back doors from its high-riding Countryman and thrown in more than a few styling tweaks, creating what it describes as the world's first Sports Activity Coupe in the small-car segment.
While MINI is offering no firm word on a production debut for the Paceman, it admits that the concept's new styling features are a sign of things to come.
Up front, the Paceman is virtually identical to the recently revealed Countryman, including the uniquely shaped headlights and larger grille that separate it from the regular MINI range.
Along the Paceman's profile, a more coupe-like three-door hatch design is featured, while the rear guards benefit from a more prominent flaring above the fuel cap.
It's at the rear that the Paceman offers the most obvious crystal-ball look at future MINI models, with new tail-lights that are both taller and longer, wrapping across the hatch and around the rear guards.
Despite the absence of its rear doors, the Paceman is no smaller than its Countryman donor car, measuring the same 4110mm in length and 1789mm width. Thanks to the chopped roofline however, the Paceman's height is shorter, measuring just 1541mm tall to the Countryman's 1561mm.
Power is provided by the same 1.6 litre twin-scroll turbocharged engine found in the brand's John Cooper Works models, developing 155kW and 260Nm of torque.
As with the Countryman, the Paceman also features MINI's All4 permanent all-wheel-drive system, sending as much as 100 percent of power to the rear axle if the front wheels completely lose traction. The front axle also features an electronic pseudo-LSD to help improve grip.
The Paceman is only the newest of many concepts to be trotted out by MINI in the past two years, and while a production future has been promised for its Coupe and Roadster models, MINI has yet to offer solid details on release dates and production plans for its next-generation line-up.