Given that details have already been released and so much has been written about the MINI Countryman, it's hard to believe that this tiny sport-ute is actually making its world debut here at the Geneva Motor Show.

The all-new platform has five doors — a first for MINI — and features the option of 'ALL4' four-wheel drive. Purists — such as they are, now that BMW owns the marque — will surely be aghast.

But we have to say the current styling adapts well to the bigger body size, and the Countryman has more than a few unique and innovative details to keep us interested. Perhaps the most significant of these is the new Center Rail, which runs right through the middle of the cabin. It's just dying to be adorned with all sorts of storage pods and adapters.

Engine choices in the Countryman are identical to the existing MINI range, though you won't find the basic 1.4-liter engine found in the MINI First. But you will have a choice of two diesels in Europe and a turbocharged Cooper S version.

The Cooper S and the Cooper D get the ALL4 option right at the start of production, with the gasoline Cooper ALL4 to follow. The most efficient model is the 90-horsepower One D, which returns 116g/km CO2 with 65.7 mpg*, speeds from zero to 62 mph in 13.2 seconds, and has a top speed of 105 mph. (Diesel (D) models currently unavailable for the U.S. market.)

The fastest is the Cooper S. It comes with a 184-horsepower 1.6-liter turbo that will propel it from zero to 62 mph in 7.4 seconds, and on to a top speed of 133 mph. CO2 remains competitive at 146g/km with 44.8 mpg*. Cost is around $31,000.

Though it won't go on sale until September 2010, we suspect the combination of more space, the MINI badge and 4-wheel-drive security will bring plenty of extra customers to the brand.

The MINI One
Minimalism is another buzzword here on the MINI stand in Geneva, symbolizing the brand's laudable lead in eking class-leading CO2 and mpg figures out of its cars.

And a new version of the One — the One Minimalist — takes this further than ever. Available with a 75- or 96-horsepower gas engine, emissions are just 119 g/km CO2, which is seriously impressive for gas power, and both will achieve 55.4 mpg*.

*Fuel economy figures are based on European measures.