Iconic car brand MINI has released the first images of a concept it intends to debut at the upcoming North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).

The Mini Paceman is billed as the "first sports activity coupe in the premium segment" and builds on the automaker's Countryman, its attempt to capture some of the sports utility vehicle market.

However, the brand has tried to remain true to its roots, sticking with two doors and firmly aiming the model at young urbanites who could occasionally take the vehicle out into the world.

The car's designers have added some muscle to the form to compensate for the smaller size, as well as 19 inch wheels and a wraparound windshield similar to that recently used on the Range Rover Evoque, another small SUV.

The 1.6 liter turbocharged engine is provided by the firm's high-performance John Cooper Works division and can develop 155kW/211hp, delivered to an optional all-wheel-drive system.

Inside, the Paceman aims for a "lounge" atmosphere using rear seats with backrests that merge into the side section, along with the centre console from the Countryman which runs from the front of the cabin to the rear.

It's the latest in a series of concepts set to debut on the press days of NAIAS, which take place on January 10-11.

Reports suggest that Chevrolet is gearing up to showcase a concept MPV version of its Volt electric vehicle, while Honda is also planning to debut its next-generation Civic concept, which could go on sale as early as next year.


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