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Mini Countryman WRC – Click above for high-res image gallery

When Mini first announced it was taking the Countryman to tango with the rest of the brawlers in the World Rally Championship, we had our doubts about the crossover's ability to keep the pace. But judging by the look of the Prodrive-prepped machine, the Countryman WRC should have no problem locking horns with the big boys on the world stage. Mini gave the rally racer an official unveil at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, but the company is keeping the drivetrain details to itself for now.

Not too long ago, the internets enjoyed a rash of videos showing a Countryman WRC prototype busting through the hills of Portugal, so we have some notion of the car's capabilities off tarmac. Will Prodrive's expertise be enough to help Mini keep its head above water in the WRC? Something tells us that all depends on who they stick in the cockpit. Hit the jump for the full press release.

Photos by Zach Bowman / AOL

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MINI at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.

MINI is bringing its commitment to innovation, sustainability, driving fun and individuality to the Mondial de l'Automobile 2010 in Paris. In addition to the current model line-up, a spectacular study vehicle is set to take centre stage and provide renewed evidence of the MINI design team's outstanding expertise in the development of sustainable vehicle concepts. The MINI Scooter E Concept combines the familiar MINI feeling with CO2-free mobility on two wheels for the first time and introduces a whole new range of individualisation options. Powered by an electric motor, the MINI Scooter E Concept represents the embodiment of spontaneity and independence on city roads. Typically MINI design and drive system technology developed to deliver emission-free travel give it everything it needs to offer the driving fun associated with the brand as part of an all-new, groundbreaking package.

As for cars already in series production, the MINI brand is represented at the 2010 Paris Motor Show by the most attractive and diverse range of models in its history. Eye-catching design modifications, additional engine variants, a comprehensively updated selection of diesel engines and innovative new equipment items sharpen the appeal of the new MINI family in terms of design, driving fun, efficiency and individuality. With its MINI, MINI Clubman and MINI Convertible models, the world's only maker of independently developed premium small cars will continue to boast both the most extensive and the highest-quality range in the segment.

The fourth model in the brand's portfolio opens up new ways of experiencing the driving fun of a MINI. The MINI Countryman conquers the roads and trails outside the city limits – and wins over new target groups in the process. This is the first MINI to come with four doors and a large tailgate, as well as a versatile interior offering seating for up to five occupants. The Countryman is also the first model from the brand with a body exceeding four metres in length and which can be ordered with the ALL4 all-wheel-drive system as an option.

These attributes also mean that the new model is perfectly equipped to compete in the sporting arena. It makes perfect sense, then, that the brand is about to return to the world's rally tracks. The 2010 Paris Motor Show sees the presentation of the MINI Countryman WRC, which is ready to line up for the 2011 World Rally Championship. It marks the revival of a successful history in rally racing: back in the 1960s the Mini Cooper S caused a sensation by winning the legendary Monte Carlo Rally three times, among other triumphs. The race version of the MINI Countryman – a co-production with partner Prodrive – will be taking its first tests in autumn 2010 and will also be available as a customer car for privateer rally teams.

MINI Scooter E Concept: two wheels, zero emissions, usual MINI style.

The unique potential of MINI not only allows the brand to venture into new vehicle segments, it also underpins the development of totally new mobility concepts. The world premiere of the MINI Scooter E Concept at the 2010 Paris Motor Show spotlights in fascinating style the innovative power of MINI. For the first time, the hallmark MINI driving fun has been distilled into a two-wheel package and combined with a – likewise groundbreaking – vision of emission-free mobility.

The study vehicle betrays its MINI design genealogy in both its proportions and a host of details which leave no doubt as to its family identity. Equally characteristic of MINI is the extensive scope for customisation worked into the concept, and the intelligent functionality inherent in both the cargo and storage concept and the extensive integration of smartphones into the vehicle's control system.

An electric motor integrated into the rear wheel allows the MINI Scooter E Concept to execute rapid overtaking manoeuvres. The instantaneous pick-up typical of electric drive systems, plus the vehicle's low weight and compact dimensions, ensure maximum agility on city roads. A lithium-ion battery serves as the energy storage system and can be charged from conventional power sockets using a connecting cable integrated into the MINI Scooter E Concept.

Striking appearance, minimal emissions: the new MINI family.

Carefully targeted design modifications, even more efficient engines and additional innovative equipment features increase both the variety and the appeal of the MINI model range. For instance, the sporting character of the MINI, MINI Clubman and MINI Convertible is now highlighted even more sharply. And under the bonnet, the new-generation petrol engines already in place are now joined by newly developed diesel units to deliver another boost to efficiency. Based on the BMW Group's drive system expertise, the four-cylinder engines offer a further optimised blend of driving fun and fuel economy. The MINI Cooper D and MINI One D, in particular, have raised their game, posting CO2 emissions of 99 grams per km combined with fuel consumption of 3.8 litres per 100 km (74.3 mpg imp) in the EU test cycle.

The presentation of the new MINI family at the Paris Motor Show includes the world premiere of a further two model variants. The new MINI Cooper D Convertible sees the inimitable driving fun of an open-top MINI now combined with the pulling power and efficiency of a diesel engine. The newly developed four-cylinder diesel unit produces 82 kW/112 hp and accelerates the MINI Cooper D Convertible from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 10.3 seconds. The new model variant records average fuel consumption in the EU test cycle of 4.0 litres per 100 km (70.6 mpg imp) to go with CO2 emissions of 105 g/km.

The other newcomer to the range is the MINI One D Clubman. The new entry-level diesel engine now also gives the Clubman unsurpassed levels of fuel economy. The new MINI One D Clubman sprints from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 11.8 seconds, burns an average of 3.9 litres of fuel per 100 km (72.4 mpg imp) in the EU test cycle and emits 103 g/km of CO2.

Linking up for more driving fun: MINI Connected.

Among the other innovations presented at the 2010 Paris Motor Show is an all-new and globally unique form of in-car entertainment. MINI Connected heightens the enjoyment of driving by intelligently linking the driver, the MINI and the outside world. MINI is the world's first car manufacturer to offer – with MINI Connected – a newly developed USB interface with exceptional functionality designed to maximise the integration of the Apple iPhone into the car's audio and infotainment system. An application available for MINI Connected comprises a web radio function, the use of Google local search and Google Send to Car services, and reception of RSS news feeds. Moreover, it also enables Facebook and Twitter posts to be displayed on the on-board monitor and allows the user to send standardised text messages.

The additional functions integrated into the MINI are activated and operated via the on-board control system. To use the full range of MINI Connected functions, customers need to specify their cars with either the MINI Visual Boost audio system or the MINI navigation system. Both options use a high-resolution colour display in the Centre Speedo and the MINI joystick positioned on the centre console to ensure comfortable, easy and intuitive operation.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      That thing looks huge!
        • 4 Years Ago
        The Countryman has SUV-like proportions and rugged design elements. It looks bigger in photos than it truly is. I've seen it in person at MTTS.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That looks pretty kickass actually.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Epic exhaust tips
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow, wow and freaking wow. We need a version of this available at Mini dealers NOW!
        • 4 Years Ago
        you can't drive this car on daily base.

        a former teacher drove amateur rally, his car was ROCK hard.
        if you enter a driveway with the right front wheel, the right rear wheel will elevate from the road aswell.

        you probably end up with broken teeth if you hit a unseen pothole.
        : )

        normal cars have rubber joints in the suspention parts, to make the ride more smooth and less noisy.

        at first you would like it, but in the end you don't, uncomfortable hard and lots of noise.

        i estimated the cost are atleast 125.000 a piece, if i remember correctly the spend about 3000 hours on a chassis on a subaru.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Autosport has reported MINI has confirmed one driver for next year, Kris Meeke. There's also speculation on whether Marcus Gronholm will return, driving a MINI. I think another driver's name has been kicked around too and talk about running 3 cars.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Mini Meeke makes for a great name....!!

        I also have to agree with kevinmaterdei, that cowcatcher looks like it'll be digging in the dirt. Fun looking car though.
      • 4 Years Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      It seems to me that this would be bigger and more top-heavy than most of its competition on the WRC circuit. It might be "competitive" but i doubt it will win much.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I know Prodrive is a very well established firm but wouldn't the lower plane of the wing be more effective in the air flow?
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