Spy Shots: MINI Clubman S Hybrid

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MINI must have some moderately evil geniuses in their skunkworks, as this MINI Clubman S Hybrid is the second prototype spotted since April. The last one was a hydrogen-fueled hybrid wearing a BMW skin, but this time, it's a full-on MINI, and it's not using star juice.

Though we can only guess that the hybrid system is some combination of existing MINI gas-burner plus an electric drive. It's certainly a hybrid, however, if the stickers down each door are to be trusted.

The look of the hybrid MINI is a bit different from the standard model, with a new front clip featuring larger air intakes and a side-pipe exhaust setup. We're betting the side pipes won't make it to production. Likewise, the Clubman platform may not be the choice for retail units--it may simply offer more room for onboard testing and evaluation equipment.

While this vehicle may be a test mule for a hybrid headed to production, it could also just be an engineering prototype or testbed for research. On the other hand, a MINI hybrid could take the fight to Honda's CR-Z, delivering both fuel efficiency and what the CR-Z lacks: a truly sporty hatchback platform.

We'll keep our eyes peeled and our spy photographers' lenses focused to bring the latest as it happens.

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