At first glance the little hatch above may look like the Infiniti FX. It is actually BMW MINI’s third variant in its line-up of “New MINIs” and it will be an all-wheel drive type of vehicle. MINI will be previewing the upcoming MINI crossover “softroader” SUV (reportedly going to be called the “Crossman”) at the 2008 Paris Motor Show.
The MINI Crossover Concept rides on a 2606mm wheelbase (longer than the Cooper’s 2466mm and Clubman’s 2547.6mm) and has a conventional four doors with two on each side of the car. The driver’s side has no B-pillar so that particular door is of a sliding type that slides to the rear to open. The rear hatch once again opens with a split in the middle, so I suppose you could call this a 6-door hatchback?
The focus of the interior is the “MINI Centre Globe” which is installed in the place of where you’d typically expect the giant speedometer to be. The 3D sphere uses laser projection to display two different views if viewed from different positions. This allows the front passenger and front driver to view different displays from the same MINI Centre Globe.
It’s quite obvious that BMW ConnectedDrive will come to the MINI brand soon enough because the press release also indicates the ability for the front passenger to surf the web from the MINI Centre Globe display, and ease of data input is facilitated by a keyboard that can slide out from the front dashboard on the passenger side. Steering-wheel controls typically use buttons or scrollwheels but in the MINI Crossover Concept, a trackball is used.
The starter system gimmick is also integrated into the MINI Centre Globe. Instead of a keyfob, a Keyball is used. The Keyball is inserted into an opening in the upper edge of the globe. It will then roll down towards the driver along the middle of the globe. The driver can then press the Keyball to start the engine. When the engine needs to be turned off, the ball is pressed again and it will then roll down into its housing bay where it can be removed.
The MINI Crossover Concept is a four seater with four individual seats, with all four having the ability to slide forward and aft. Something called a MINI Centre Rail runs through the middle of the car from the front dash all the way to the tailgate. Cupholders, storage boxes and other items such as an external music player can be attached to the Centre Rail. Even the armrest attaches to this rail and can be removed if needed. You can also slide things along the rail, allowing someone at the rear to place a drink in a cupholder and then slide it to the front for the driver.
Look after the jump for more hi-res photos of the concept.
PHOTO GALLERY: MINI Crossover Concept
Click thumbnails to view high resolution photo