The magic number for Mini's concept CUV (crossover utility vehicle) is four. Its new Mini's fourth body variant follows the Cooper, the Convertible, and the Clubman. It has four doors, four-wheel drive, four bucket seats, and is about 4 meters long. Perhaps this recurrence of the number four is a coincidence, or perhaps it's the work of an obsessive-compulsive Mini engineer. Whatever the case, Mini has revealed the first round of photos of its new Mini Crossover Concept, set to debut at the 2008 Paris Motor Show in October.
The Crossover Concept packs SUV proportions into a vehicle that's only slightly longer than Mini's Clubman, but it doesn't stop there. Mini attempts to give the crossover some SUV cred by equipping it with an all-wheel-drive system.
On the inside, the Crossover Concept remains, well, conceptual. Front and center on the dash is by far the most interesting feature, the Center Globe interface that integrates entertainment, communication, navigation, and vehicle functions. The Globe is controlled by its touch-sensitive surface, a trackball on the steering wheel, buttons, and slide controls in its lower section.
The driver also uses the Center Globe to start/stop the vehicle. Instead of a key, the Crossover is equipped with a keyball that's inserted into an opening at the top of the Globe. The keyball then rolls down the center of the Globe and is finally depressed to start the vehicle. To stop the vehicle, the driver presses the Keyball, which then rolls back to the opening where it can be removed.
To call the Crossover Concept's door configuration "unconventional" would be an understatement. Mini claims the Crossover has four doors, but we count five or at least four and a half. The front two doors and the rear passenger side door are of the conventional front hinged assortment. Then things get interesting. The rear driver's side is a half door that slides toward the back of the vehicle on rails like those on a van. The rear hatch has a retractable, frameless window and swings open on a double hinge. The Crossover is just a scissor door and a gullwing short of being a rolling museum of car door tech!
Our guess is that the Center Globe won't make it to production and that the funky door setup will be toned down. The keyball system sounds like an unnecessary complication of the simple act of starting the car, but we'll see how it works when the concept is revealed this October in Paris.