Development of the new Mini Countryman is now taking place on the Nürburgring and in Munich. The sticker on the fuel filler door stipulates that the development driver fills the crossover with 98-octane gasoline. This suggests we are looking at the high-performance S grade.
The development team puts a lot of camouflage on the nose, and the covering hides a lot. The large sensor in the center of the grille is easily visible, though. In a typically Mini styling trait, there are circular headlights at the far sides of the front ends.
Gallery: Next-Gen Mini Countryman S Spy Photos
Along the side, this Countryman has a fairy low ride height. This isn't going to be a crossover that you take off-roading but should improve on-road handling. The flanks are boxy, and there's a flat roof. There's a surround with a spoiler on top around the hatchback's glass.
At the back, dual exhausts are beneath each side of the bumper. The overhang behind the rear wheels looks short. The taillights are still covered to hide their shape.
The new Countryman rides on the FAAR platform like the new X1. This S grade reportedly shares a powertrain with the M35i grade of the BMW. This should mean there's a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 302 horsepower (225 kilowatts) and 450 pound-feet (332 Newton-meters) of torque.
There's also a rumored plug-in hybrid variant. It would use a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder with electrical assistance making a total of 322 hp (237 kW). All-wheel drive would be the only layout, and the system would offer an estimated 55 miles (88 kilometers) of electric range.
While not visible in these spy shots, earlier photos offer a good look at the cabin. There appears to be an oval-shaped display behind the steering wheel. A circular screen is on top of the center stack. Chunky toggle switches are below it.
The new Countryman reportedly debuts in late 2022 and goes on sale in early 2023. There's also a rumor that Mini intends to revive the Paceman. Rather than simply being a two-door Countryman like the previous model, the new one is reportedly a bit different by using a fully electric powertrain. It allegedly arrives in 2024.