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Mini Beachcomber Concept at Detroit motor show 2010

Tue, 15 Dec 2009

This funky beach-biased concept car has just appeared at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show in January. Called the Mini Beachcomber Concept, this flight-of-fancy Moke-inspired show car gives us our first glimpse of how Mini's production-spec 4x4 crossover will look at launch - we'll see the real car at the Geneva motor show in March 2010 ahead of an autumn UK launch.

This four-seater, four-wheel-drive machine has been designed without doors or a conventional roof, so that its occupants are not cut off from the outside world. Not a bad idea, if you live in southern France... The real car will of course have four doors, a hatchback boot (discount the barn door Clubman disguise on the prototypes), and a normal roof – but today's concept is dropping heavy hints about real design elements such as the headlights and butch stance of the production Mini Crossover.

Inside the Beachcomber concept is a Center Speedo console for navigation and audio systems, while sited on either side of the steering wheel is a compass and an artificial horizon, so you know exactly where you are when you off road.

Carried over from the 2008 Mini Crossover Concept is a Center Rail to which armrests, music players, storage boxes and other auxiliaries can be attached – a clever character detail that dominates the interior. Expect something similar in production.

Luckily, soft and hard-top roofs and detachable plastic door panels – which Mini claims can be fitted in 'an instant' – are provided with the Beachcomber for combating both the elements and pesky carjackers.

Other design nuances to distinguish the Mini 4x4 from regular estate agent fodder include long-travel suspension and 17-inch alloy wheels with off-road tyres, which raise the car's ride height in line with its more robust design philosophy. The inspiration for this concept car is clearly the utilitarian 1964 Mini Moke.

By Tim Swietochowski