After more than a year of concept teases and name guessing games, the long-awaited Mini Cooper Countryman -- the first four-door Mini of the modern era -- has finally come out into the light and is headed to U.S. Mini showrooms in early 2011 after a world debut at the upcoming Geneva motor show.

The fourth model variant in the Mini family, the Countryman (Mini says the name will be different in some markets) represents the BMW brand's movement in a new, bigger direction. According to Mini, the Countryman "bridges the gap between the classic concept of the Mini and a modern Sports Activity Vehicle." In other words, Mini needed a crossover. What brand doesn't these days?

While the Countryman is immediately recognizable as a Mini, there are several obvious differences. It's much bigger, of course, with four doors and lots more room for passengers and their gear. Like many crossover style vehicles, the Countryman employs an elevated seating position in an effort to improve overall driver sight lines. Rear seat passengers have the option of moving the seats both fore-and-aft, and the vehicle can either be outfitted with a standard two seat arrangement or an optional bench with either 60:40 or 40:20:40 setup depending upon option package. And the Countryman has a lot more cargo space than a traditional Mini, with a luggage compartment that ranges from 12.2 to 41.0 cu-ft and a wide-opening rear hatch for better cargo loading.