How’s this for a concept? Four doors! Four single seats! Four-wheel drive! And over four meters long! All that, plus a world first: the MINI Center Globe.
Yes, it’s the first MINI to measure more than four meters in length, measuring 72” in width, 63” in height and with a wheelbase of 102.6”, giving it a more powerful stance and beefier appearance.
But no…this is not your average crossover line extender. The folks behind this concept are too smart to mangle the brand that simplistically. So, they started from scratch, taking the concept of the MINI and the concept of the all-wheel-drive lifestyle and blending them to create an entirely new concept vehicle. It doesn’t just look different; it really is.
Inside, for instance, you’ll find four single seats, with the rear seat passengers enjoying the same comfortable contours and seat adjustments as the front seat occupants. Plus they can be knocked down to create additional storage capacity. Nice.
Each seat has its own door, too, so getting in and out is easier as well. But, unlike the seats, the doors are not all the same. On the driver’s side, the rear door is van-like, sliding to the rear to make loading and unloading bulky objects easier.
Back inside, the first thing you’ll likely take notice of is what MINI calls “the central instrument of the future.” The MINI Center Globe is a central display and control unit in the middle of the dashboard that looks, well, globe-like. It’s 3-dimensional, with vertical and horizontal displays featuring all of the driver information you’d expect but then ups the ante considerably with technology never seen before in any other automobile, anywhere in the world. It takes the concept – there’s that word again – of laser projection and expands it into two hemispheres for the driver and the passenger, each of whom can customize their information and have it viewable only from their individual perspectives. So, the driver can keep an eye on his speed, running temperature, fuel, etc. while the passenger can surf the web. To provide this special effect, the hemisphere facing the front passenger closes down from the other side and acts as a projection surface. The Center Globe is operated by a touch-sensitive surface, a trackball on the steering wheel, buttons and slide controls in the lower section of the Globe and a keyboard on the passenger’s side extending at the touch of a button from the dashboard. It’s said to provide “the character of an innovative travel companion, adjusting at all times to the individual wishes of the driver and front passenger and helping them enjoy mobility in a new a dimension wherever they go.”
It’s different. The whole thing is different.
You want to start the car? You’ll need the Keyball. The driver gets in, inserts the Keyball into its slot in the Globe, where it rolls into the center position, allowing the driver to press the Keyball and thus start the car. Press the Keyball again and the engine switches off and the Keyball rolls back to its slot, where the driver can remove it.
You want storage? Forget a conventional center console. Instead you get a rail system that extends from the front dashboard all the way to the tailgate. Holders for entertainment and telecommunication devices, cup holders, storage units and boxes can be attached to the rail and pushed forward or rearward, so its easier to pass stuff around. Gloves, keys, sunglasses, coins, writing utensils, music players, travel guides, cups…whatever you need to hold this unique fastening system can hold it.
Clearly, the designers and the engineers got together for some very serious playtime here. The armrests on the doors and the inlays in the footwells are made of massive lime wood, and in the door; lagoon-blue glass. They even created a special collection of porcelain dishes and cups to commemorate this model.
But how much of this actually pushes your buttons (or Keyball, as the case may be) is a matter of opinion and will likely start much debate. In any case, the people behind the new MINI Crossover Concept should be applauded for not taking the road most traveled. This is one crossover that clearly crosses over the line.
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