Mini has announced that starting in 2011 buyers can opt for a new Mini on steroids, called the Countryman.  This “Super Mini” will be an SUV version of the cute little retro car that won our hearts in movies like “The Italian Job.”

The Countryman will compete directly with the Honda CR-V and (believe it or not) the Land Rover LR2 and will be the first 4-door Mini ever made by the new company.  Similar in size to the Clubman which is he new wagon version of the Mini, this new SUV will boast enough options to make your head spin including an all wheel drive system, stability control, run flat tires for when the baddies try to assassinate you, and a choice of a peppy 1.6 liter engine or a brawny turbocharged version.  You can even opt for a panoramic roof on the Countryman.

The Countryman will feature a raised rear seating area which will increases visibility as well as comments from the back passengers about your driving.  The people up front will get nice bucket seats, and plenty of gadgets and dials to keep them occupied during any trip.  Everything inside will be centered on a “Center Rail” storage system, which is Mini’s version of a normal center console (they like the word center).  Much like the apps of an iPhone, owners will be able to purchase various attachments to suit their needs like sunglass cases, cup holders, gun holster, handcuffs for the kids and an iPod dock (OK, two are those are my ideas).

Anyone familiar with Mini knows that you can buy one prêt à porter (off the rack) or spend hours in the “Mini Configurator” tailoring every detail of the car to your wildest desires.  I myself spent a week there one day, and came out with a car plastered in Union Jacks.  With the new Countryman, you can even be part of the design team.  It seems Mini has launched a contest for people to design new attachments to the “Center Rail” and considering that past options included a plastic palm tree, the wackier the design the better chance you have of winning.  According to the people at Mini the winners will get to reveal their “app” at the Paris Auto Show, and runners up will get Macbooks and other fun stuff.  Finally, there are other models in the pipeline including a very hot chopped top coupe and a cute little roadster, so expect lots more fun from Mini in the coming year.

Photos courtesy of MINI USA

Article courtesy of Chris Raymond