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Mini’s Countryman successor will be larger and more rugged to offer an “authentic” SUV feel

Mini is in the process of refining its lineup, but the latest news about one of its upcoming core models suggests the automaker won’t necessarily be returning to its roots.

Autocar is reporting that after the Cabriolet version of the new Cooper is introduced, Mini will reveal the second generation of the Countryman, the brand’s largest model. Mini is describing its successor to the compact crossover as an “authentic SUV.” That’s probably not what fans of the classic compact Minis want to hear, but apparently its what Mini buyers want.

When the vehicle debuts late next year, it will feature a more rugged construction based on design cues of the Mini X-Raid, which has won the Dakar Rally four times since 2012. The Clubman’s UKL platform will also be used for the new Countryman, meaning the vehicle will be much more spacious, longer, and wider than the present generation. The next generation Countryman will also borrow the four-wheel drive system from the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer.

Related: Mini will produce its sultry Superleggera Vision Concept

MINI-X-Raid Dakar

While still contradictory to Mini’s roots as a fun, compact vehicle manufacturer, the Countryman has accounted for more than a third of the brand’s total sales, so it makes sense that the successor builds on the purposes of the model that was introduced in 2010.

While Mini’s parent company, BMW, continues to make changes to Mini’s model lineup, Mini’s president, Peter Scwarzenbauer, has stated that there will be five “superhero” models, excluding the Superleggera that was just given the production nod. Among those, the next generation Countryman, Cooper Hatchback, Cooper Cabriolet, and the Clubman have already been determined and will be on sale by late next year. That leaves a single mystery model to be revealed.

Presently, the most likely candidate to fill the final spot is a city car that will be developed by BMW and Toyota as a spiritual successor to the original Mini. The Rocketman concept is the best indicator of how a modern city car from Mini could turn out. If the city car doesn’t pan out, then a secondary option could be an MPV to mirror BMW’s 2 Series Active Tourer. While the smaller vehicle is most appealing to fans of the brand, the automaker has made it clear that it wants to move upmarket, and a new entry-level model might not fit into those blueprints.