It's quite safe to say there's nothing mini about the new Countryman as our spies have caught a prototype of the third generation looking quite large. We're getting the impression of a legitimate compact crossover regardless if we're talking about length, width, or height. The reason being Mini is twinning the all-new model with the upcoming BMW X1, with the duo to be assembled in Leipzig at the first factory to build both a BMW and a Mini.
While the current Countryman is put together in The Netherlands by Born-based VDL Nedcar automotive manufacturing company, the BMW Group will move production in-house and the funky crossover will be carrying the Made in Germany label. Early reports suggest the new one will be at least 200 millimetres (nearly eight inches) longer, which would put it at around 4.5 metres (177 inches).
Gallery: 2023 Mini Countryman first spy photos
We're noticing this fully camouflaged prototype has an exhaust system, but Mini has already announced there will be a fully electric model. That makes sense considering BMW will also make a zero-emissions derivative of its upcoming entry-level crossover, likely labelled iX1. Despite the disguise and increased proportions, it's already easy to tell this is a Mini (in name at least) since it has the typical design cues we associate with the British brand, just upsized.
It will ride on an evolution of the front-wheel-drive-based UKL platform, known in BMW's terminology as FAAR. It's been conceived to support vehicles fitted with combustion engines on their own or as part of a plug-in hybrid setup, plus the already confirmed EV powertrains of the next Countryman and X1.
In the long run, Mini could introduce an even larger model positioned above the Countryman, Speaking with Auto Express magazine in early 2020, the company's lead designer Oliver Heilmer hinted at the prospects of a bigger vehicle: "The Countryman works pretty well in terms of size but in other markets [such as] China and the US, the expectation is different, they could imagine having something bigger. In short, there is no limitation for us. But it has to stay and feel like a Mini, but not the size necessarily."
Per a statement made earlier this month by the very same Oliver Heilmer, future models will be pushed upmarket while getting rid of leather upholstery. Instead, they'll "bring in warmth again with colours and fabrics. When you have fewer elements, it's more important that the fabrics have warmth to compensate."