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At Once Both Retarded and Awesome

December 16, 2009

To date, I’ve been on the fence about Mini’s forthcoming CUV.

Not the idea, mind you. The idea makes sense. The Cooper – and Clubman, for that matter – are too small for a lot of people. Heck, my Clubman’s fine 90% of the time, but once I load Nolan, his car seat, his stroller, and the diaper bag, that’s pretty much all she wrote as far as room goes. But it’s not like Mini can go and offer a mid-size car. If they want to offer more space, then jumping segments is the only logical way. So long as they keep it small for its segment and preserve the eagerness and taut handling, I have zero problem with the idea of a Mini CUV.

The thing is, I never really warmed to the concept Mini unveiled last year:

Mini Crossover Concept

Something about it just seems…off. I don’t know if it’s the headlights and grille, the strange flow of the front fenders into the bumper, the too-small wheel/tire combo, or what, but the concept has just never done it for me.

Then again, the Traveler concepts never did much for me, either, and yet I now own one of the Clubmans they presaged. With that in mind, I’ve kind of sat back, waiting for more.

And this week, Mini has given us more, in the form of the Detroit-bound Beachcomber Concept.

Mini Beachcomber Concept

Mini Beachcomber Concept

My initial reaction? “This thing’s awesome! And retarded! It’s awesome-tarded!”

After giving it a few minutes to sink in, though, I have to admit the Beachcomber has me FAR more interested in the final, production Mini CUV.

Why?

Well, when you ignore the open-air, look-ma-no-doors gimmick, it’s pretty apparent that the Beachcomber is a lot closer to the production Mini CUV than last year’s concept. For one, it’s got a bumper that looks like it could actually pass safety regulations. And an actual hood line. And what looks like the standard-issue Cooper S/Clubman S gas cap.

Looking past the obvious concept flourishes (the open-airness, the hideous grille*, the Glade Plug-in inspired tire carrier), I’m really liking the design that’s emerging. If you squint and imagine this thing with doors, you can almost sense what the production model might look like. And if it’s anything close to this, I may have to reevaluate my next ride. Especially if they stuff the much-rumored diesel in it.

*NOTE: That hideous grille is actually an homage to the original open-air Mini, the Mini Moke.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 17, 2009 1:15 pm

    Great post! I kinda thought the grille was a clever rework. I despise the rims on the rendering you’ve got pictured there. Love the ones on the concept sketches that were released alongside the renderings. Bummed they didn’t make it onto the more finalized car. I think the rims could possible make or break the aesthetics of this one.

  2. Matt permalink*
    December 17, 2009 1:31 pm

    I actually don’t mind the rims on the computer rendering – they kind of remind me of an evolution on the flame spoke wheels, or even the ones off the Mini GP.

    I do agree though that the wheel and tire combos might make or break…but Mini usually comes through pretty well when it comes to the wheels, so I have some optimism.

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