Mini to build Countryman Coupe

Mini Paceman concept in a warehouseThe parade of Mini variants continues. What started as one retro fashion item has spawned a whole line of Mini cars, from the original Cooper to the helmeted Coupe. No one ever thought Mini could make an SUV, but the Countryman line is already getting a spinoff. Car and Driver reports that the BMW brand will build a Mini Countryman Coupe, which will go on sale next year.

Mini has been hinting at a Countryman Coupe since it showed the Paceman concept (pictured) at the 2011 Detroit auto show. Aside from the name change, the production Coupe will look almost exactly like the Paceman. The car’s styling is pretty straightforward: it’s a Countryman, minus two doors. This is the best looking application of the helmet-like roof previously seen on the standard Countryman and the Mini Cooper Coupe.

Under the new sheetmetal, the Countryman Coupe will probably be identical to its four-door sibling. That means a choice of front or all-wheel drive and six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. The Countryman’s range of engines will also carry over. These include a 1.6-liter inline-four with 121 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque, and a turbocharged 1.6 with 181 hp and 192 lb-ft. A more powerful John Cooper Works version is also likely.

Does Mini need a second crossover? The Countryman is kind of big for a “mini” vehicle, but it offers practicality combined with the same retro styling Mini fans love. Mini sold 16, 683 of the crossovers last year, making it the brand’s second best selling model (after the original Hardtop, of which 29,658 were sold). A two-door version will be less practical, but it could attract people who want a truly mini-sized car with all-wheel drive.

The Countryman Coupe will make its official debut in September at the Paris Motor Show. It will go on sale early next year as a 2013 model.