The Nurburgring is known to be the testing ground for BMW’s M models and yet it seems like all cars made by the Germans are being put through their paces on the Green Hell. The latest model from the BMW Group to be taken around the famous track was the MINI Countryman that is due next year. Set to become the biggest MINI ever made, the SUV – as the British brand calls it – is being tested to the very limit as we speak.
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By the looks of things, the car we’re looking at seems to be a Cooper S model. The dual tailpipes at the back as well as the grille mesh up front and the red brake calipers all seem to point in that direction. That means that under the bonnet of this prototype lies a 2-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine good for 192 HP. Considering the size of the Countryman, I’d say the car is rather fast around the track. Furthermore, it seems to be extremely light on its feet showing little body roll.
That may be all due to the UKL platform it is being built atop of. BMW’s modular platform was designed from the get go to be used for front-wheel drive models without making them too heavy. The current F55 and F56 MINI hardtop models are using it as is the new Clubman, the 2 Series Active and Gran Tourers and the BMW X1, all of them successful models so far.
As for the upcoming Countryman, it will borrow the technical bits from its brothers as well. However, in terms of design, we should expect a small difference inside compared to the hardtop or the Clubman. Since there’s a noticeable increase in size on the outside, the cabin should provide even more room for its occupants, with the same premium fit and finish we’ve been getting used to.
In terms of engines, apart from the Cooper S we’re looking at here, more 2-liter 4-cylinder mills are planned in both petrol and diesel guises. The top of the range model will be the John Cooper Works model but for now it is yet unknown if it will have the same 231 HP of the hardtop models. Rumors claim it will be more powerful and it will come with ALL4 all-wheel drive. On the eco-friendly side of things, a plug-in hybrid model is also in the works, using the same 225 HP powertrain of the BMW 225xe Active Tourer model, using a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine along with an electric motor.