2010 Detroit Auto Show: Mini Beachcomber Concept

Article by Christian A., on January 26, 2010

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.

Press Release

MINI Beachcomber Concept

MINI Beachcomber Concept crosses borders, enters new dimensions of driving pleasure, and wins over additional target groups by expanding the model range and the creativity of MINI design. MINI demonstrates its potential for additional product lineup growth and further enhanced driving pleasure with the MINI Beachcomber Concept. This brand-new concept vehicle will proudly be presented by MINI at the 2010 North American International Auto Show (16-24 January 2010) in Detroit.

The MINI Beachcomber Concept is a four-seater concept car designed for maximum driving pleasure, incorporating key features of the new MINI and combining them with the vision of a radically open body concept.

A new all-wheel drive system, ALL4, and a flexible interior make the MINI Beachcomber Concept ideal for a spontaneous and active experience. It is designed without doors or a conventional roof, and all other body elements that could limit the intensity of the occupants' encounter with their surrounding world. This allows the driver and up to three passengers to connect with their surroundings - whether cruising through town, enjoying rough tracks in the mountains, or breezing along the beach. The vehicle's space concept, partnered with a modern drivetrain technology, ensures a highly emotional driving experience.

The MINI Beachcomber Concept combines all-wheel drive, cutting-edge suspension technology, and an elevated seating position. Generous spring travel and extra-large light-alloy wheels raise the entire car to a higher level. Access to the front and rear seats is convenient thanks to the open doorways. The entry cutouts extend all the way down to the seat bottoms, allowing the driver and all passengers to get in and out in one smooth and flowing process.

The driver and passengers will enjoy everyday motoring conditions - simply because the MINI Beachcomber Concept retains its unmistakable character in all conditions. In the event of bad weather, drivers can either use the soft roof or the lightweight door and roof elements, all of which fit easily and can be installed within a few minutes.

MINI enters new terrain - with a fourth model and a complete range of innovative ideas for future.

Based on the MINI crossover vehicle that will be launched later this year in markets outside of North America, the MINI Beachcomber Concept is a symbol of the brand values packaged in a new, radical style.

Within the first decade of the MINI brand's re-launch, a fourth MINI model is set to enter the market. As a crossover in the typical style of the brand, the new model offers a new interpretation of the unique MINI design. With the functional convenience of four doors, four full-size seats, a flexible interior, a newly developed all-wheel-drive system and a high standard of driving pleasure, a MINI vehicle can now be enjoyed for the first time beyond the beaten path.

MINI designers were inspired by the new MINI crossover production model, which they enhanced beyond the realms of urban mobility to create the MINI Beachcomber Concept. In creating this concept, they utilized the technical qualities of the production crossover model, and made adaptations to offer the ultimate expression of freedom. The result is a new open concept driving experience for all your senses, plus a greater degree of versatility than ever experienced before in a MINI.

The potential uses for the MINI Beachcomber Concept are defined by the imagination of its driver. Clearly, the most natural surroundings for this vehicle are beaches, where the MINI Beachcomber Concept, through its enhanced traction and radically open design, offers the freedom of movement expressed through its very name.

In its robust and versatile character, the MINI Beachcomber Concept follows in the footsteps of the Mini Moke, which in the 1960s, quickly became the epitome of adventurous motoring for leisure time and sports activities in sunny coastal regions.

Unique, typical of MINI, and with a great role model from way back when.

The MINI Beachcomber Concept is the vision of a car that leaves behind conventional standards and creates momentum for innovative mobility of the future.

Individual character, a clear focus on maximum driving pleasure, and the courage to create new concepts have always set the foundation for new models in the MINI range; and the traits of this open-air, all-wheel-drive concept clearly define it from the beginning as a MINI.

The authentic style and character of the MINI Beachcomber Concept is rooted in the brand's history. MINI once offered an extreme, thrill-of-driving experience in the open air by conscious reduction to the very minimum: In 1964, just five years after the market launch of the classic Mini, Alec Issigonis, the world-famous engineer and creator of the first model, developed an all-open version of this revolutionary compact car.

The body of the Mini Moke, as it was called, was made up of little more than a floorpan, wide sills at the side, an engine compartment lid and a windshield. A folding roof served to protect the driver and passengers from precipitation.

With its robust structure and the drivetrain technology carried over from the Mini, this four-seater fun car became a great success, particularly in the sunny regions of the U.S. and Australia. Production of the Mini Moke continued in Great Britain until 1968 with a production volume of approximately 14,500 units. In the following years, production was continued in Australia and Portugal.

The MINI Beachcomber Concept now takes the basic principles of the Mini Moke into the 21st century. The rustic appearance of the car, and its concept of consciously reducing the body components and interior to a minimum clearly follow the tradition of the radically open Mini Moke of the 1960s. This is further accentuated by design cues that are strongly inspired by the original Mini Moke, and is enhanced by various striking details such as the characteristic radiator grille.

The new MINI Beachcomber meets modern demands in terms of space and comfort, as well as efficiency and safety, while retaining its clear focus on driving pleasure and enjoying the surroundings without barriers.

Even ALL4 all-wheel drive can be seen in a role model from the past. A prototype Mini Moke developed by Alec Issigonis in 1963 had two engines and an early ALL4 system. On this test car, appropriately referred to as the "Twini," the front and rear wheels were each driven by a four-cylinder from the Mini range of engines.

Versatile, modern, and safe at all times.

Modern from A-Z, the MINI Beachcomber Concept offers a wide range of technology and features for driving pleasure in the 21st century. The premium manufacturer touches in the areas of design, drivetrain, safety and production technology bring together the undiluted character of a concept car with a wide range of possibilities in the real world.

Measuring approximately four meters in length, and with its versatile interior, the MINI Beachcomber Concept offers all the flexibility and spaciousness required for an active lifestyle. Intentionally reduced to a minimum, the body of the car ensures an intense feeling of the sun shining in and the wind rushing by, while full maintenance of all MINI safety standards guarantees maximum occupant safety.

The MINI Beachcomber Concept vehicle's stable body structure incorporates clearly defined load paths and deformation units, which absorb impact energy in the event of a collision. The vehicle's rollover safety also meets the highest demands made of an open car and it is able to withstand even extreme situations. The frame on the passenger cell is formed by substantially reinforced A-pillars, and the D-pillar bar is complete with an integrated lateral support element at the rear of the car. It is made of high-strength steel for maximum stiffness. This additional safety component is finished in body color, and reinforces the commitment to safety.

The concept of intelligent lightweight technology serves to lower the car's center of gravity, offering superior agility at all times. The lateral support element further enhances the vehicle's agility and also gives the vehicle its unique appearance. This lateral support boasts recesses shaped to form the "MINI" model designation and is clearly visible from outside.

Extreme variability for all kinds of activities, weather and road conditions.

Individual rear seats adjust forward and back to offer the passengers a supreme standard of grand touring comfort tailored to their individual requirements. The rear seat backrests fold down completely to allow appropriate adjustment of interior space for all needs. In practice, this means that the driver and passengers are able to conveniently stow even bulky sports equipment such as mountain bikes or wakeboards securely held in position by special fastening systems.

When open, the MINI Beachcomber Concept is also able to carry extra-long objects, such as surfboards, with ease. Fastened firmly to the lateral support, surfboards fit conveniently into the car, sticking out at the top on the way to the beach.

The driver and passengers enjoy convenient access to the luggage compartment though the rear panel split vertically down the middle into two sections. Whenever necessary, the right-hand side may remain fully open for bulky objects extending out of the car at the rear. The left rear element, in turn, is a window-less door hinged at the side and extends up to the seat backrests. The additional storage case fitted on to the door is reminiscent in its round shape of a fully enclosed spare wheel holder of the type often seen on a conventional off-roader. However, since the MINI Beachcomber Concept is equipped with runflat tires and therefore does not require a spare wheel, the lockable case may be used to take along additional luggage, keeping beach mats, towels, surf shoes or similar odds and ends within easy reach at all times.

Flexible protection from wind and weather: soft roof or hardtop inserts.

The MINI Beachcomber Concept is built for the sunny side of life and is simply perfect for spontaneous action. Through its optimum flexibility, the car is able to meet many different requirements, naturally coping with any sudden change in outdoor conditions.

This gives the MINI Beachcomber Concept all the qualities required for everyday motoring, with several options that cater to changing demands and weather conditions.

The soft roof offers convenient and effective protection from rain and weather, and comes off the body completely and folds up into a compact unit. Whenever required, the roof may be drawn over the car within a few minutes, like a tonneau cover on a boat, fastening conveniently on the windshield frame, the rear panel and the side openings.

Made of an extremely light, yet very robust fiber, the roof comes with transparent plastic inserts serving as side and rear windows.

In its functional qualities, the roof follows the same standard as the most sophisticated and demanding outdoor wear, combining maximum protection from wind and rain with minimum weight.

The attachment points holding the soft roof in position are equally strong, stable and user-friendly. When the roof is in place, the four entry points and the rear door continue to open and close easily while keeping out draughts and water.

As another option for reliable protection even in bad weather, the MINI Beachcomber Concept is available with fitted plastic inserts for the roof, the sides and the rear. Made of an extra-light plastic material, these robust inserts carry over the principle of a removable hardtop to the doors and the luggage compartment lid of the car. And again in the interest of clear design and superior convenience, the inserts come flush with the body of the MINI Beachcomber Concept.

The removable door elements maintain their defined position through their firm connection to the opening points and the A- and D-pillars. They are transparent at the top to provide good visibility to the outside. The rear element is held firmly in position through its contact to the left door element, the rear body panel at the right, and the loading sill.

The removable hardtop is connected to the windscreen frame at the front and rests in special mounts on the rollover crossbar. Precisely arranged connections joining the hardtop with the side and rear elements keep the entire structure extremely strong and stable, with the appropriate connection being unfastened in each case when opening a door.

Typical MINI design, re-interpreted and concentrating on the essential.

Thanks to its clear design language, the body of the MINI Beachcomber Concept concentrates on the essential and leaves no doubt that this is a genuine MINI. At first sight, unmistakable design elements reminiscent of the brand clearly stand out. Like the MINI Crossover Concept presented for the first time at the Paris Motor Show in autumn 2008, the new model clearly reflects the ongoing process of MINI design and the introduction of MINI design language in new types of vehicles. Indeed, both the smooth and firm design of the body and proportions typical of MINI show that this is clearly a member of the range.

Short overhangs front and rear as well as the wide wheel stance on the MINI Beachcomber Concept bear the overall look of the brand. Here again, the new model comes with characteristic MINI design features at the front, side and rear that are re-interpreted on the new model. The extra-wide body frame encompasses the wheel arches and extends down to the road, emphasizing the robust flair and character of this all-wheel-drive concept study. And thanks to greater ground clearance, the advantage of short front and rear overhangs can be seen even more on rough terrain, allowing a particularly large ramp angle for even the toughest requirements.

The entire front section of the car is angled towards the road. The engine compartment lid is powerfully chiseled, and the powerdome, with its integrated air insert, symbolizes the outstanding performance of the turbocharged engine within the car.

The hexagon radiator grille, again typical of MINI, comes with contour lines carried over directly from the front look of the Mini Moke. With its vertical position, three robust crossbars and additional integrated headlights, the radiator grille gives the MINI Beachcomber Concept a particularly powerful and convincing presence.

The large, three-dimensional headlight units integrated into the engine compartment lid, as a new interpretation of a characteristic design feature, also boast a striking look. Accentuated by the classy chrome frame, the headlights follow the contours of the engine compartment lid and wheel arches, again confirming the increase in stature and spaciousness over the MINI models available so far. A large air intake at the bottom and foglamps moved far to the outside round off the front view of the car, again in that unique style so typical of MINI.

Side view: new combination of robust strength and lightweight look.

Extending far into the side of the car, the headlights additionally emphasize the short front overhang. The powerfully designed wheel arches on the MINI Beachcomber Concept boast large 17-inch light-alloy wheels and off-road tires with a rough tread.

The surrounds on the turn signal indicators come for the first time in a diagonal shape in the extended A-pillar. They create a wide band in distinctive color precisely at the same point as on the classic Mini, now forming a visual connection between the windshield frame and the front wheels. This graphic element again underlines the solid nature of the MINI Beachcomber Concept, with its A-pillars appearing to rest powerfully on the front axle. At the rear, the rollbar forms an equally direct line extending towards the rear axle of the car.

Massive side-sills along the front and rear entry points interact with the dark body frame to add a further touch of robustness, while the unobstructed view offered into the interior emphasizes the lightness and agility of this concept car. Stylized push button elements around the entry point, like on the Mini Moke, indicate the option to fit a simple and straightforward cover for bad weather. The actual fastening and adjustment points for the soft roof, on the other hand, are not even visible from outside.

The graphic look of the rear end is formed by the asymmetric design of the luggage compartment, the door element on the left and the storage case fitted on the outside, which symbolizes the superior versatility of the car. Meanwhile, the open section on the left emphasizes the lightness and spontaneous functionality of the entire concept.

Over and above these specific features, the MINI Beachcomber Concept naturally comes with other design elements at the rear typical of the brand. For example, the rear light clusters fit like islands into the side panels, as they stand upright and are surrounded by a wide band of chrome. Further down, the rear end is dominated by horizontal lines interacting with the muscular wheel arches to emphasize the sheer width of the car and its powerful stance on the road.

With the roof closed, this convincing look of power and muscle is further accentuated by the growing width of the car in steps from top to bottom. The number plate surround takes up the design and contours of the front air intake, while the rear air dam is rounded off at the bottom and comes with a robust underfloor protection element.

The interior: sophisticated, versatile, robust, and full of character.

The interior design of the MINI Beachcomber Concept focuses on maximum driving pleasure in the great outdoors. Extra features added to the car, as well as appropriate and conscious reduction to the minimum versus the existing models in the MINI range, serve to focus on the essential. The Center Speedo is in the typical MINI design, comprising the usual display for navigation and audio functions.

With the MINI Beachcomber Concept being intended primarily for driving in the open air, the number of air vents has been reduced in the interest of additional loudspeakers on the HiFi system as well as special instruments for off-road motoring. These additional instruments are spherical in shape, reminiscent of the displays in the cockpit of an aircraft.

A liquid-sprung compass fitted to the left of the steering wheel tells the driver whether he is going the right way and moving in the right direction. Another special instrument to the right of the steering wheel presents an artificial horizon, showing the angle of the car around its longitudinal and transverse axis.

Contoured seats and an additional handle on the front passenger side optimize driving pleasure on rough terrain. Open-pore footmats allow a good view of the floorpan, and characterize the robust ambience of the car. The stitching seams on the seats are matched specifically to this concept car.

The range of color and trim within the MINI Beachcomber Concept again reveals the car's close link to nature. The surfaces and seat upholstery, in their design, follow the elements of earth, air, water, and fire. All plastic surfaces on the instrument panel come in a newly developed grain look, resembling the structure of dry earth.

The trim surfaces in the cockpit are finished in magnetic paint, which has been used for the first time to create a special touch of flowing liquidity. And last but not least, the individually designed seats again oriented in their colors to the four elements serve as a symbol highlighting the versatility of the MINI Beachcomber Concept.

Center Rail with new features: everything the sportsman needs at your disposal at all times.

The Center Rail that was presented in the MINI Crossover Concept plays a particularly important role in the new concept model. Extending from the instrument panel all the way to the luggage compartment, this fastening rail connects the front seats with the rear, emphasizing the common driving experience enjoyed by the occupants.

A special fastening system developed for MINI enables the driver and passengers to place individual elements and components on the Center Rail, such as external music players and other devices, armrests for the front and rear seats, storage boxes, shelves and holders of all kinds.

The MINI Center Rail comes complete with an integrated cable duct allowing the user to connect a mobile phone or MP3 player in any position to the car's entertainment system by means of a holder fastened to the rail. Another option is to connect additional sources of light, a cooling box, a laptop or a GPS tracker safely and securely to the Center Rail, each with their own power supply.

The range of holders has been further extended especially for the MINI Beachcomber Concept, now including a stopwatch specially made for the new model, a bottle holder, a compact meal box as well as a case for cycling and swimming glasses, clearly reflecting the sporting character of this concept car and simply ideal for the triathlete.

The MINI Beachcomber Concept: variable and always open for maximum driving pleasure.

The MINI Beachcomber Concept offers driving pleasure in its purest form, concentrating on the essential elements required for genuine joy of individual mobility.

Introducing this concept, MINI once again proves the ability of the brand to convey the values so typical of MINI such as driving pleasure, lifestyle and premium quality, to a completely new type of vehicle.

From the start, the MINI Beachcomber Concept offers a preview of an incomparable driving experience in new, unprecedented style reflecting the needs and wishes of a modern, lifestyle-oriented target group and the authentic character of the brand.

After the MINI Crossover Concept opened up fascinating new options through the further extension of the brand family, the potential of the MINI's modern drivetrain technology and its flexible space concept is now being used to offer additional driving opportunities in a new dimension. Indeed, the MINI Beachcomber Concept offers a particularly emotional driving experience, demonstrating these qualities once again in that unique style so typical of the brand. It is clear proof that unconventional creativity still serves today to open up the door to brand-new vehicle concepts, and points to a future that is bound to offer even more fascinating renditions of that unique feeling so characteristic of MINI.

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