For years, MINI has sort of felt like an afterthought in the BMW Group. There really hasn’t been anything new to report from MINI since the electric Cooper SE and even that was met with a fizzle, instead of a bang. However, the next-generation Countryman is actually going to be surprisingly important for the brand, for a number of reasons. One such reason is that it will have an electric variant based on the BMW iX1, which was recently caught doing some camouflaged testing, wearing a very colorful wrap. (We don’t own the spy photos but they can be seen here)

These spy photos don’t show off too much we didn’t already know. We’ve already seen spy photos, and even official teasers, of the next-gen MINI Countryman, so we already know its basic shape and much of its design. However, there are a few things to note about this MINI test mule.

For staters, its grille shape can be seen through the camo and it looks like it will retain the same basic design, just without any openings. As with most EVs, there’s no need for a functional grille, so it will just be blanked out. Another interesting thing to note is the fact that there is a functional air intake, a big horizontal one in the front bumper. This is likely for battery cooling. This specific model also has interesting looking five-spoke black wheels, which are a bit sportier than we might imagine an EV to have, so could this be a sportier model? Perhaps some sort of John Cooper Works version?

Then there’s the wrap itself. It’s incredibly colorful and features a quirky “XO” pattern. MINI already showed off this wrap on a test mule used for promotional purposes. It’s also possible that this ends up being a prototype model used for media to test ahead of its launch, like BMW did with the M2. There was a fancifully camouflaged M2 prototype shown, then media members were able to drive it, and then BMW launched it a couple of months later. Something similar might happen with this MINI Countryman, as it seems odd to make such a unique wrap otherwise.

Regardless of the use-case for this test mule, or its potentially sporty nature, the MINI Countryman EV will likely be the most affordable EV offered by the BMW Group when it launches, it will be among the first BMW Group vehicles to offer iDrive 9, and it will help launch MINI into its plans for a fully electric future. A MINI Countryman might not seem all that exciting at first glance but this one’s important.

[Source: Motor1]