Winter testing will be over soon, which means automakers are more active than ever in the chilly northern reaches of Scandinavia. There isn't much time to wrap up cold-weather operations, and our eagle-eyed spy teams caught Mini putting the next-generation Countryman through its paces.
We haven't seen much of the new model. This is just our fourth sighting since first catching wind of its development in October 2021. Unfortunately, the level of camouflage looks the same as when we first saw it, but the combination of sun and snow in these images gives us a better perspective on its size. The crossover will grow compared to the current model, sharing the FAAR platform with both the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and the next X1. Our spy sources tell us it could be nearly 20 centimetres (8 inches) longer, offering more space for passengers as well as increased cargo capacity.
Gallery: Next-Generation Mini Countryman S Spy Photos
Though camouflage still hides details front and rear, we can see the Countryman's overall design will be very familiar with a wide grille flanked by two ovalesque headlights. Looking very closely, the headlights on this prototype could be placeholders, though the housings suggest the final design might have sharper edges. The taillights are completely covered, and there could be some false panels under the rear wrap causing further confusion. There are no visible exhaust tips at a glance, but an extremely close look shows a single outlet pointing down on the driver's side.
As such, this isn't an all-electric Countryman though one is reportedly coming. A Plug-in hybrid version is also rumoured to be the most powerful Mini of them all, with unconfirmed reports saying a turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder will pair with an electric motor for a combined 322 bhp (237 kilowatts). That would be an all-wheel-drive model; a less-powerful plug-in hybrid is likely, along with standard combustion-powered trims turning just the front wheels.
Based on the limited sightings and level of camouflage, we believe a Countryman debut is still some months away. Most likely, it will debut in 2023, possibly for the 2024 model year.