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

A couple weeks back, we told you that the unveiling of the production Mini Countryman may be delayed from the Detroit Auto Show in January to the Geneva Motor Show in March. The reasoning behind the move was reportedly due to the fact that Countryman production couldn't begin at Magna International's Austrian assembly plant until assembly of the BMW X3 was moved from the Magna plant to Bimmer's facility in South Carolina.

Now, the well-connected Mini fanatics over at MotoringFile are reporting that Mini's first-ever crossover could be delayed by up to a year here in the States, with first deliveries pushed to early 2011. The reported reasoning for the delay is that such an important launch could see minimal success in a down economic climate, While we could definitely see how the woeful (yet perhaps slowly improving) auto industry might hinder the initial success of the Countryman launch, we're thinking Mini's expanding U.S. dealer base would be more than thrilled to have some additional help on the showroom floor – especially as Mini sees the Countryman as the larger, more spacious alternative for customers who have outgrown their Mini Cooper.

We're thinking the Mini Countryman sounds pretty interesting to us, with the expected availability of an "All4" all-wheel drive system, two JCW versions and multiple efficient engine choices. Add seating for four full-sized human beings and some additional cargo space and Mini could be looking at a winner – provided that bigger and taller doesn't kill the nimble handling that makes Mini so much fun.

[Source: MotoringFile]

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