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Mini Countryman reaches Australia

The Countryman will start at $37,700 for the naturally aspirated 1.6-litre Cooper in two-wheel drive only.

The Mini SUV will be launched in Australia next month and BMW Group Australia executive Piers Scott says there are rumours of a WRC kit being made available.  "We will be able to do things to build a replica," he says.

"I haven't seen the details of what the changes would be, but they would be more than just cosmetic.  There are also John Cooper Works kits in the pipeline but there is no conformation of an engine variant yet; but I wouldn't rule it out."

The Countryman will start at $37,700 for the naturally aspirated 1.6-litre Cooper in two-wheel drive only.  The turbocharged Cooper S Countryman will start at $47,500 for the two-wheel-drive model and $50,400 for the "ALL4" four-wheel drive.

A two-litre turbo diesel Cooper D will start at $40,950 and will also have a choice of two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive.  Scott says there may also be another diesel engine choice down the track.

The Countryman will compete in six European rounds of the WRC starting in Sweden on February 13, but not Australia.  "However, we have been offered drives for Australian guests and journalists in the shake-down at some of these events," Scott says.

He points out that the WRC vehicle bears few similarities to the X-Raid Countryman entry in the recent Dakar Rally in South America.  "That entry was at arm's length from BMW," he says.

The X-Raid Mini was running a respectable ninth overall when driver Guerlain Chicherit rolled it three times during routine testing on a rest day.
The Countryman was launched internationally in July last year.

"The lag in right-hand-drive production for Australia is because it has been extremely popular in the UK where there's a three-month waiting list.  But we should have enough supply here.

"The car has been anticipated for a long time so we have a lot of orders, mostly for the high spec.  There are a lot of aftersales accessories already on the market because it has been out so long."

Piers also says Mini electric scooters - revealed at the Paris Motor Show last October -  are "still on the cards" and that the Mini Coupe two-seater will arrive in July.