AutoExpress By Nick Gibbs
24th May 2010
The Moke is back! MINI bosses have given Auto Express strong hints that the buggy-inspired Beachcomber concept will be sent down the production line.
Designed to show off the new Countryman crossover, the stripped-down Beachcomber proved a massive hit when it was revealed at the Detroit Motor Show in January.
So much so that MINI is close to giving it the green light. Head of brand management Dr Wolfgang Armbrecht said: “We will come back to this to see if there is a business basis, as we were overwhelmed by the reaction. MINI will never show a concept that won’t make production.”
The Beachcomber was built around the road-ready version of the Countryman, but lost the doors and roof panels in homage to the Moke – the legendary Mini-based take on the classic beach buggy. Its four individual seats are wrapped in wetsuit material for all-weather durability, and the rear-mounted spare wheel holder is actually a lockable storage box. If the weather takes a turn for the worse, a fabric tonneau can be attached to the car, while more long-term rain protection is provided by lightweight, removable plastic door and roof panels.
As with the Moke – made from 1964 to 1993 – the Beachcomber has a metal, body-coloured grille, only this time the designers have inserted driving lights. Off-road ability is enhanced by higher ground clearance than the Countryman, as well as chunky tyres. Plus, the new ALL4 four-wheel-drive system is likely to be included as standard.
If it is built, the Beachcomber would have few natural rivals – perhaps only the permanently open-topped Smart Crossblade.
And the name? Bank on Moke, if Dr Armbrecht’s comments are anything to go by. “MINIs need authentic names,” he said.
The Countryman goes on sale in the UK in September, with prices starting at £16,000 for the 1.6-litre One model.
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