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Mini AWD official photos released

The car is the fourth model in the line-up, but the first of them to have four doors plus a rear hatch.  Tipped to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March, the Mini Countryman will offer optional ‘ALL4’ all-wheel drive.

It sits higher than the rest of the family and has greater ground clearance, but has similar short overhangs and styling cues: hexagon grille, large headlights integrated into the bonnet and vertical rear light clusters.

Coloured bezels accent the interior, which is divided front to rear by the centre rail console that can be adapted to a range of bolt-on storage options and additions.  In Europe the Countryman will come with four seats or with a three-seat rear bench as a no-cost option.  Luggage capacity of 350 litres can be increased to an impressive 1170 litres by folding the rear seatbacks, which in the bench version split 40:20:40.

Like the front-driver, the all-paw version is expected to have three petrol and two diesel engines, with at least one of the latter being turbocharged.  The European outputs will range from the 66kW Mini One D Countryman up to the 135kW Mini Cooper S Countryman.

The ALL4 system uses an electrohydraulic diff on the final drive that varies the torque from front to rear, sending from 50 to 100 per cent to the rear wheels as needed.  The suspension system comprises front MacPherson spring struts and forged track control arms, with a multi-arm rear axle.

The Countryman will come with servotronic electric power steering and stability control, with dynamic traction control being offered as standard on the Cooper S and D ALL4 versions, and optional on the others.

The car is expected to go on sale in Europe later this year and possibly Australia early next year.