Yeah, I know this is a concept, but I still think it’s a pretty bad idea. MINIs, although they are terrifically fun cars to drive, have the “chick car” stigma firmly attached to them. Sure, you might be able to do some pretty fun off-roading with the MINI Beachcomber Concept, but the hassle and haranguing you’d get from all the other guys out there in their 4X4’s just wouldn’t stop.
You can get away with a lot when it comes to concept cars, and in a way, that’s what they’re there for. Concept cars give a car company’s designers free reign to go out and be as fanciful as they’d like. Sure, in its more pragmatic terms, concept cars are a way to test out design ideas and check out what the public reaction is, but a lot of the time concepts are just a way for designers to breath a little before they get back to designing door handles for sedans and whatnot.
That’s what the MINI Beachcomber Concept is. It’s just a styling study, a what if, and there’s no way MINI is going to produce this. The insurance liability issues by themselves are enough to stop it, let alone just how small the market for a car like this must be. Seriously, who would buy this kind of thing?
People in Hawaii, you might say, but you’d only say that if you never lived in a place like Hawaii. Vacations don’t count. A lot of people who have vacationed in a place like Hawaii would look at the MINI Beachcomber Concept and think that it would be a perfect ride for a place like that. They’d be wrong. Tropical islands are hot, sticky and humid. In that sort of environment, you want a car that seals out all the heat and humidity and has an AC system like a meat locker.
What the MINI Beachcomber Concept does point to however, is stuff that is not as obvious in these photos. MINI has been hinting at a small SUV version that will hit the show circuit soon and the streets soon after that (a mini-SUV, if you will).
What the MINI Beachcomber Concept is here for is the underpinnings that you cannot see. The MINI Beachcomber Concept has an all wheel drive system, for one thing. It also has beefed up suspension bits and pieces and also has that suspension is lifted a considerable amount.
What the MINI Beachcomber Concept will “test”, more than a four seat MINI with no doors, is the whole idea of an “off road” MINI. By showing a car like the MINI Beachcomber Concept, BMW will essentially me asking, “OK, but what if we were to make something like this, only more practical?”
They’ll take those reactions from show goers, and fold them in to the upcoming MINI SUV. Maybe things like various interior design points, like seat fabric and whatnot, but nothing all that radical.
It will be interesting to go back and compare the MINI Beachcomber Concept with the SUV when it’s finally rolled out.