MINI Crossover Concept
Concept Portends Planned Crossman
By Kevin Miller
BMW Group has released images and information depicting its MINI Crossover Concept. The concept vehicle is likely to mature into the MINI Crossman production vehicle. The Crossover Concept takes MINI’s signature styling and puts it onto a fourth body style, following in the footsteps of the original MINI hatch, the convertible, and the recent Clubman.
The Crossover Concept is the first MINI measuring more than four metres in length, and it features all-wheel drive and four doors, plus four individual seats. This vehicle, then, is designed for MINI Cooper drivers who end up needing more space and utility, a bit like the stillborn Smart ForMore in physical size, brand-growth aspiration, and crossover/mini-SUV layout. However, while Smart ended up scaling back their vehicular expansion, canceling both the production ForFour and the planned ForMore, MINI seems likely to develop the Crossover Concept into the production Crossman, as MINI sales are strong.
While the Crossover Concept is immediately identifiable as a member of the MINI family, it has the stronger stance expected of a crossover vehicle, as well as unique features not found on any other vehicle. The Crossover Concept has four passenger doors, though it is interesting to note that the two rear doors are assymetrical, with a sliding rear door and no B-pillar on the left side, and a conventional (forward-hinged) hinged door on the right, each with a frameless window. In addition, the rear hatch opens by swiveling to one side, and it also features a frameless window which can be retracted into the door. The roof features a folding roof cover rather than a fixed roof or sunroof, that folding roof cover can be opened from the front or the back.
Inside, the dash of the Crossover Concept is dominated by the three-dimensional display device called the MINI Centre Globe, which provides control and display of entertainment, communication, navigation, and vehicle functions. This new type of instrument adds a three-dimensional element to the display, with information stratified on various levels depending on importance and selected function. Vehicle speed is shown around the edge of the spherical display. The MINI Center Globe uses laser projection technology which allows simultaneous presentation of pictures or information on various levels, with a varying focus and in bold colors. Additionally, the display of the MINI Centre Globe can be optically separated right and left into two hemispheres. These adjustable, moving hemispheres enable the driver and front passenger to view different things on each hemisphere, which are visible only from their individual perspective. For example, a front passenger can surf the net while the driver maintains his free view of all displays and instruments. The MINI Centre Globe is able to be controlled by touching its touch-sensitive surface, a trackball on the steering wheel, buttons and slide controls in the lower section of the MINI Centre Globe, or a keyboard on the front passenger’s side extending at the touch of a button from the dashboard.
Another distinct feature of the MINI Crossover Concept’s interior is rail running the length of the interior between the seats, referred to as the MINI Centre Rail. It extends from the dashboard all the way to the tailgate of the car. The Mini Centre Rail is designed to have various relocatable comfort or storage items attached to it. Armrests, holders for entertainment and telecommunication devices, cupholders, storage units and boxes can be attached to this rail and subsequently pushed forward or backward along the entire length of the car.
While many of the Crossover Concept’s fanciful features are unlikely to translate to the production Crossman, the stylish proportions of the concept are likely an accurate representation of the upcoming model. It would be interesting to see the assymetrical rear passenger doors make it to production, though it would be an engineering challenge to implement a sliding door without a B-pillar for it to close against. Though most MINI crossovers will be unlikely to venture farther off road than a ski resort parking lot or a gravel driveway, the Crossover Concept’s stance and all-wheel drive hardware present a rugged perspective on the iconic brand.
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