The Mini Countryman junior SUV, one of three variants that will be based on Mini's new platform, hits showrooms next September. The Countryman is likely to form the basis of a rally car for the WRC.
The next model that will be launched is a lower-riding five-door Mini that's aimed at young families. The third model will be followed by a hot version that insiders have described to be somewhat like a Mini GTI.
The standard-issue GTI is able to produce 175bhp and will be tuned to offer a similar driving experience to the three-door Cooper models. The mainstay model will be a front-wheel-drive version but to date, it has not been confirmed whether BMW will commission a "baby Quattro" version with four-wheel drive.
What's likely to happen is that the Countryman GTI will also be available with a BMW-sourced 2.0-litre diesel engine producing as much as 200bhp.
In addition, BMW is also expected to enter the World Rally Championship with the high-performance Countryman. There are speculations that Prodrive is already working on turning the Mini into a WRC car but we'll know more next March during the Geneva show.
BMW has deftly handled the Mini brand ever since it was relaunched in 2001, clearly evident in how BMW played up the Mini's record in rallying. [via autocar]