Ironically, there's a label on the steering wheel saying "!!! Cover the interior !!!"
With Mini deciding to push back the development of next-generation models due to cost-cutting and Brexit consequences, it means facelifts for current cars will stick around for longer. The company’s not-so-mini crossover is about to be revised, and these latest spy shots give us a pretty good understanding of what to expect from the 2021 Countryman.
A couple of prototypes have been caught on camera by our spies, with one of them carrying around a yellow box with the AIP Automotive label. Linked to the prototype’s exhaust system, it’s a mobile device that measures the emissions while the car is moving as Mini wants to make the Countryman as clean as possible.
Gallery: 2021 Mini Countryman facelift spy photos
From 2021, the fleet-wide average emissions target in the European Union for new cars will drop to 95g of CO2 / km. That works out to a fuel consumption of about 57.3 miles per gallon for petrol cars and 65.3 mpg for diesels. Anything above that will result in some steep fines for car manufacturers, with a report from automotive market research JATO estimating the stricter targets will generate €34 billion in fines for automakers.
But I digress. The camouflage applied at the back of the premium compact crossover partially conceals the taillights, yet the exposed area is enough to reveal the 2021 Countryman will get the stylish Union Jack theme. The headlights also seem to be a tad different, although nothing to write home about.
As for the other prototype, it was caught at an undisclosed location while standing still. Although it didn’t have any camouflage whatsoever, it did have a car cover to hide most of the updated bodywork. Nevertheless, we can see a good chunk of the rear end with the updated taillights and a faux diffuser flanked by dual exhaust tips. Those two-tone alloy wheels are not new as we’ve seen them before.
Stepping inside the cabin, the first thing you’ll notice will be that sticker on the steering wheel over the Mini logo. It says “!! Cover the interior !!” – but it looks like someone didn’t do the job he was supposed to do. With nothing to conceal the dashboard, we can easily observe the fully digital instrument cluster seen on recent Mini models, including the John Cooper Works GP pocket rocket and the electric Cooper SE. The centre console has also been updated as there now seem to be touch-sensitive controls underneath the screen.
Mini unveiled the second-generation Countryman back in November 2016, which likely means the facelifted version isn’t too far away. Look for a debut in the coming months, prior to a market launch towards the end of 2020.