Spy photographers have caught the MINI Crossman practically naked. Unless BMW is keeping the car's final ride height a secret, this looks to be a branding exercise extraordinaire: the car is but a few millimeters higher than the Clubman. Its "rough-road" credentials are supposedly validated by the larger wheels, slightly longer wheelbase than the Clubman and a rear differential for AWD.

Auto Express claims the Crossman is meant to steal sales from the Land Rover Freelander, or the LR2 in America. Not that it won't -- after all, it is a MINI and they seem to be able to do as they please. But the Freelander is larger in every dimension and a genuine Land Rover off-roader. While we know the LR2 doesn't see much duty in the wild, we bet it can handle rough urban trials (like New England winters, say) far better than a MINI on tiptoes. Have MINI buyers really been asking for a much smaller and far less capable -- but cuter -- LR2? Nevertheless, when the Crossman goes on sale, and, we predict, sells well, it will move for about £20,000 in the UK.

[Source: Auto Express]