It’s pretty easy to figure out what the next-generation MINI Countryman will look like, especially now that some new spy photos have released, showing it completely free of camouflage. However, the test mule in these photos has a very odd C-pillar detail and we’re not quite sure what it is. (We don’t own the spy photos but you can see them here)

For the most part, this MINI Countryman test mule is unsurprising. It shares much of its design with the MINI Aceman Concept and the recently revealed MINI Cooper (MINI really has to get better at hiding its cars). Though, it’s clear that the Aceman is the precursor to this Countryman, as the latter shares so much of its design with the former. Even the Countryman’s headlights and wheels are nearly identical to the Aceman’s. That’s not to say it looks bad, as it actually looks quite good. It’s more wagon-like than the previous-gen, which was more SUV-like. It’s just completely predictable.

However, there is one curious detail and it’s the odd squarish piece of trim on the C-pillar. Is it just some sort of decorative trim piece? It does look like it says “All4” on it. Is that dark gray stripe light up, giving its exterior some flashy lighting? It’s hard to tell what it is, what it could be for, or why it’s there. It certainly looks like it’s supposed to be there, considering the roof is even notched a bit to fit it in there. Ironically, the MINI Aceman Concept has no such piece. It isn’t horrific looking, it just seems a bit pointless.

The next-gen MINI Countryman is actually a surprisingly important car for the BMW Group as a whole. That might seem odd, considering the lack of importance held by the current Countryman, but it’s true. The next-gen Countryman will debut two things for BMW: the first electric MINI crossover and iDrive 9.

There will be gasoline and diesel-powered Countrymans (Countrymen?) but the electric one is the big news. There will be two model variants, one all-wheel drive and one front-wheel drive, and it could have almost 300 miles of range. It’s unusual that BMW would debut its latest iDrive 9 system on the MINI Countryman but that seems to be the case at the moment.

So as vanilla as the current Countryman is, the next-gen model is actually going to be quite important. Plus, it should look pretty good, too.

[Source: Autoblog]