The Beachcomber Concept has just been unveiled by BMW AG's Mini unit at this year's Detroit Auto Show. With an open body, all-wheel drive, an elevated seating position and a rugged appearance, the Beachcomber has similarities with the Countryman crossover, which goes on sale in Europe this year and in the US in 2011.
That the MINI Beachcomber Concept is part of the MINI line is obvious given its all-wheel-drive concept and open-air characteristic. However, it continues to have its own appeal as it continues to put attention on giving full driving pleasure while not being afraid to create new ideas that set the tone for the new models of the MINI line.
It is clear that the vision for this car is to do away with the usual standards but at the same time take that needed step for the future of mobility. The character and unique style of this vehicle can be traced back to the brand’s history.
In the past, the MINI offered a one-of-a-kind open air driving experience by going for the bare minimum. World-renowned engineer Alec Issigonis in fact made an all-open version of this particular compact car back in 1964.
Issigonis was also the one responsible for the first model. This all-open version was created five years since the classic Mini was launched to the market. Back then, the classic Mini was known as the Mini Moke. Its body consisted simply of floorpan wide sills at its side, a windshield, and engine compartment lid.
A folding roof was also included to guard the driver and passengers from the rain. The Mini Moke was a success as it used the drivetrain technology and structure founded on the Mini. This four-seater was a hit in many of the sunny areas of the U.S. and even Australia. In Great Britain, it was estimated that 14,500 units were made before production was halted by 1968. For the succeeding years though, it was still manufactured in Australia and even in Portugal.
At present, what the MINI Beachcomber Concept does is use the Mini Moke’s philosophy and makes sure that it is fit for the 21st century. The car has a rustic appearance and it follows the idea of consistently lessening the interior and body components to its minimum.
This is the same principle behind 1960s Mini Moke. The design cues are additional evidence that this new vehicle is indeed inspired by the Mini Moke. This is further improved by the different remarkable details, like its unique radiator grille. In addition to maintaining emphasis on giving a pleasurable drive, the MINI Beachcomber is able to meet the requirements when it comes to comfort, space, safety, and efficiency.
One can even enjoy the surroundings on a drive without the need for barriers. The brand’s ALL4 all-wheel drive also traces its roots to the past. Issigonis did not only develop a Mini Moke prototype with two engines, he also created the early model for the ALL4 system. For the concept car, each of the front wheels and its rear wheels is powered with a 4-cylinder engine from the Mini range, fittingly called as "Twini."
The MINI Beachcomber also provides a wide assortment of features and technologies that make driving today even more enjoyable. Its design, drivetrain, production technology and safety features are clearly a result of the work done by a premium manufacturer. They are also brought together to result in a concept car whose pure character offers a number of opportunities in the real world. Though the length of the MINI Beachcomber Concept has been measured to be four meters, the interior is flexible enough to deliver the needed space for those who live a dynamic life.
Since it has been deliberately cut to its minimum, the body gives the sensation of the sunlight in the interior with the wind passing you by. With the safety standards of the MINI completely maintained, safety is guaranteed even if the car is full.
Furthermore, the body is not just stable but integrates deformation units and load paths that help absorb the energy that is created during impact when a collision occurs. Because it also rates high when it comes to rollover safety, it is able to endure even the harshest of conditions for an open-type car. The passenger cell is framed with the use of reinforced A-pillars while the D-pillar bar on the rear of the car is incorporated with a lateral support element.
To make sure that stiffness is at its maximum, it uses high-strength steel. To further highlight the fact that it is committed to safety, this added safety feature has a body color finish. Because it uses the intelligent lightweight technology, the center of gravity of the car is lowered thus superior agility is available all the time. In addition, this lateral support element adds to the unique look aside from improving the agility. The lateral support has recesses forming the "MINI" model designation and can be viewed from the outside easily.