Prodrive working on a sporty version of the MINI Countryman

Article by Christian A., on October 20, 2011

It was announced today that Prodrive is working on a hot version of the MINI Countryman. This engineering company, which is based in Banbury, operates Mini’s works World Rally Championship outfit and team principal. In a previous interview with Autocar, Prodrive boss Dave Richards said that Prodrive-tuned Mini road cars were possible.

He said that Mini, which has the Cooper and John Cooper Works brands, will seek to find ways to make use of the campaign.

The heavily tweaked all-wheel-drive Countryman Cooper S has a muscular body kit that has a large fixed carbonfibre wing as well as custom unbranded alloy wheels.

Upgrading its performance meant giving it a Prodrive-branded Milltek exhaust as well as a Superchips-tuned version of the Cooper S’s turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine. Insiders say that the car produces 230bhp on the dyno; however, Superchips hopes to generate added power.

A larger turbo was being considered too. Mini hasn’t officially unveiled the top-of-the-line Countryman JCW performance model yet. [source: Autocar]

The inimitable MINI style aesthetic appropriately expresses the concept of automotive innovation in its adaptation on the MINI Countryman. As the first MINI to exceed a length of four metres (157"), it also conforms to MINI’s dedication to maximise internal spaciousness and practicality within very compact dimensions – the exact principle set forth by the classic Mini. Aside from the classic MINI proportions, distinctive front, side and rear details clearly identify the MINI Countryman as a part of the brand’s vehicle stable.

MINI’s fourth model in its fleet received its name as a tribute to the marque’s British heritage. The Countryman, just like the Clubman, represents a modern evolutionary progression from its ancestor which was derived from an innovative small car prototype conceptualised by Alec Issigonis. In fact, a version of the classic Mini also called the Countryman was produced back in 1960 and it became known for its practical versatility.

This was the Austin Seven Countryman which, along with its twin model, the Morris Mini Traveller, offered greater versatility due to the usability of their relative spaciousness. It was marketed until 1969 and its “woody” variant that featured wooden frame flank and rear door trimming gained a cult following that still remains today.

The Magna Steyr Fahrzeugtechnik, an Austrian sister company of the BMW Group, will manufacture the MINI Countryman in Graz. It will have a different production line established to comply with the BMW Group’s strict requirements.

Like other MINI vehicles, the Countryman’s petrol engines will be supplied from England by the Hams Hall engine plant, which is a corner of the MINI Production Triangle. On the other hand, the newer diesel engines will come from the BMW Group’s leading engine factory in Steyr, Austria.

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