The MINI Countryman is a vast improvement over the car it has replaced. The design is more coherent, the interior now feels befitting of its premium price when new, and there's genuine space for five on board. Mini hasn't produced a bad car so far, from the skinny-wheeled fun of a basic One through to the mad-as-toast John Cooper Works, though the Countryman's body poses the toughest challenge yet to the car's keen- and-nimble reputation; never mind its extra height, this four-wheel-drive Cooper S ALL4 is a hefty 245kg chunkier than its front-drive hatchback equivalent.
Diesel 58.9 combined MPG
Location: Preston Motor Park Fiat and Volvo - Stock At This Dealer
All vehicles can be purchased from your local Motorparks dealer regardless of their physical stock location.
Best part-ex price paid
Ready to test drive
Low Finance Available
Qualifies for Warranty4life
What do you do if you're a massive Mini fan but you need more space for a growing family? If the British firm is to be believed, the Countryman is the answer to this quandary.
CO2: 126 g/km
Emissions and Fuel
* Price does not include road fund license
Electric front and rear windows + anti trap + one touch, Heated rear window with automatic switch off, Rear wiper
ABS, Automatic Stability Control (ASC), CBC - (Cornering brake control), DSC-Dynamic Stability Control, Electronic brake force distribution, Hill start assist
DTC - Dynamic traction control, Electric power steering, Rear park distance control
Engine start/stop button
Brake fluid level warning light, Brake pad wear indicator warning light, Exterior temperature gauge, Oil level indicator, Run flat indicator, Service interval indicator, Sports button
Anti dazzle mirror, Electrically adjustable door mirrors, Heated door mirrors/heated windscreen washers
Diesel particulate filter
Auxiliary input socket, DAB Digital radio, Radio BOOST + single slot CD
Exterior Body Features
Anthracite roof rails, Body colour bumpers, Body coloured air scoops, Chrome door handles, Chrome exhaust tailpipes, Chrome plated trim on bottom edge of window, Chrome-plated radiator grille surround, High gloss piano black bezels around rear lights and headlights, Honeycomb radiator grille, Metal look door sill finishers, Roof spoiler in roof colour
Follow me home headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED front fog lights, White indicator lights
2 cupholders in front centre console, 3 spoke sport leather steering wheel, 4 lashing points to secure luggage, Centre console storage, Chrome air vent knobs, Chrome interior door handles, Driver/passenger sunvisors, Gear knob with chrome ring, Gear/selector and handbrake in artificial leather, Height/reach adjustable steering column, Interior world - Carbon black, MINI centre rail, Rear grab handles, Side sunvisor for driver, Stainless steel foot rest, Stainless steel pedals, Storage compartments in doors
Boot light, Front reading lights, Interior light
3 point front seat belts, 3x3 point rear seatbelts, Crash Sensor - activates hazard/interior lighting + unlocks doors, Driver and passenger airbags, Driver and passenger side airbags, Front head airbags, Front seatbelt pretensioners with force limiters, Passenger airbag deactivation system, Tyre pressure warning
3 rear seats, 60/40 split sliding rear seats, Adjustable headrests, Driver's seat height adjuster, Front seat backrest storage nets, Front sports seats, Isofix child seat preparation, Passenger seat height adjuster
Automatic door locking, Electronic immobiliser, Locking wheel bolts, Remote central locking + boot release, Second remote key, Thatcham Cat.1 alarm
|Badge Engine CC:||2.0|
|Based On ID:||N|
|Coin Description:||D ALL4|
|Coin Series:||Cooper S|
|Insurance Group 1 - 50 Effective January 07:||18E|
|Man Corrosion Perforation Guarantee - Years:||12|
|Manufacturers Paintwork Guarantee - Years:||3|
|NCAP Adult Occupant Protection %:||84|
|NCAP Child Occupant Protection %:||83|
|NCAP Overall Rating - Effective February 09:||5|
|NCAP Pedestrian Protection %:||63|
|NCAP Safety Assist %:||71|
|Service Interval Frequency - Months:||36|
|Service Interval Mileage:||36000|
|Standard manufacturers warranty - Mileage:||999999|
|Standard manufacturers warranty - Years:||3|
|Timing Belt Interval Frequency - Months:||N|
|Timing Belt Interval Mileage:||N|
|Vehicle Homologation Class:||M1|
|Noise Level dB(A):||73|
|Standard Euro Emissions:||EURO 6|
|Cylinders - Bore (mm):||84|
|Cylinders - Stroke (mm):||90|
|Engine Layout:||FRONT TRANSVERSE|
|Fuel Delivery:||COMMON RAIL|
|Number of Valves:||16|
|EC Combined (mpg):||58.9|
|EC Directive 1999/100/EC Applies:||True|
|EC Extra Urban (mpg):||62.8|
|EC Urban (mpg):||52.3|
|0 to 62 mph (secs):||9.3|
|Engine Power - BHP:||143|
|Engine Power - KW:||105|
|Engine Power - PS:||True|
|Engine Power - RPM:||4000|
|Engine Torque - LBS.FT:||225|
|Engine Torque - MKG:||31.1|
|Engine Torque - NM:||305|
|Engine Torque - RPM:||1750|
|Tyre Size Front:||205/55 R17|
|Tyre Size Rear:||205/55 R17|
|Tyre Size Spare:||TYRE REPAIR KIT|
|Wheel Style:||5 STAR TRIANGLE SPOKE|
|Wheel Type:||17" ALLOY|
|Height (including roof rails):||N|
|Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres):||47|
|Gross Vehicle Weight:||1915|
|Luggage Capacity (Seats Down):||1170|
|Luggage Capacity (Seats Up):||350|
|Max. Loading Weight:||510|
|Max. Roof Load:||75|
|Max. Towing Weight - Braked:||800|
|Max. Towing Weight - Unbraked:||500|
|No. of Seats:||5|
|Turning Circle - Kerb to Kerb:||11.6|
The Countryman was the first five-door, family-sized MINI. This bigger second generation version gives that recipe a more sophisticated spin. Jonathan Crouch reports
The second generation MINI Countryman is the biggest and most versatile model to be launched in the brand's 57-year history. With its larger external dimensions and increases in space throughout the cabin and luggage area, it offers a more credible premium alternative to Qashqai-sized family Crossover segment rivals. There's a bit of interior innovation - and the option of Plug-in hybrid tech too.
Back in the late Sixties, Sir Alec Issigonis, designer of the original British Mini, was faced with a rather difficult task. His little city runabout was a huge success, driven and loved by everyone from Peter Sellers to the Beatles, but beyond it, there was little for family owners to move on to. What was needed was a five-door, four-metre-long sister model that still kept much of the Mini's cleverness. And the result was the Austin Maxi. Forty years on in 2010, BMW were faced with a similar issue. Their new MINI was a hit but it couldn't offer five proper doors or decent space for rear passengers or luggage. That time round, the issue was solved by the first generation version of the car we look at here, the MINI Countryman. That model did well for MINI, but it was never quite large enough to properly compete with family-sized Crossover models in the Qashqai class. Nor was it quite sophisticated enough to tempt users of premium-badged compact Crossovers, cars like Audi's Q3 and Mercedes' GLA. This larger, cleverer second generation Countryman addresses both these issues.
The new MINI Countryman is available at launch with a choice of five new engines: two diesels and three petrol-powered variants, all of them featuring MINI's TwinPower turbo technology. Most will want one of the 2.0-litre diesels - there's a 150bhp unit in the Cooper D or a 190bhp powerplant in the Cooper SD that puts out 400Nm of toque, providing for a 0-62mph sprint of just 7.7 seconds. The petrol line-up starts with the 136bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder unit used in the Cooper Countryman. The alternative is the 192bhp 2.0-litre powerplant you'll find in the pokey Cooper S, a variant able to complete the sprint to 62mph from rest in just 7.5 seconds. Steptronic auto transmission with paddleshifters is optional across the range. Another option across the line-up is an improved version of MINI's 'ALL4' all-wheel drive system. This set-up now reacts more quickly and precisely to changing situations. The most interesting engine option though, is the Plug-in hybrid set-up used in the priciest variant, the 'Cooper S E ALL4' model. Here, the 1.5-litre 136bhp Cooper engine is mated with an 88bhp electric motor and the whole package is combined with Steptronic auto transmission and 'ALL4' 4WD.
The problem with the original Countryman was that in size, it sat rather awkwardly between the compact 'Juke'-shaped part of the compact Crossover segment and the larger 'Qashqai'-shaped family section of this class. With this larger MK2 model, the target market for this car can be much more clearly defined and high-ish pricing can much more easily be justified. It's 20cms longer than before with 7.5cms of extra wheelbase length, enlarged dimensions that make it the largest MINI ever made. You certainly feel that inside, where both driver and front passenger benefit from extended head and shoulder space. The second row of seating now contains three fully-fledged seats, and the rear door openings have been enlarged, enabling easier entry and exit. In addition to overall interior width, leg space is now significantly more generous too, with an extra five centimetres of knee room over the previous model. The rear seats can be shifted back and forth by up to 13cm, prioritising either passenger legroom or boot capacity depending on the situation. The folding rear backrest offers a 40:20:40 split and also provides a variable tilt angle so as to also offer either increased seating comfort or additional storage space for the bigger 450-litre boot at the rear.
Prices have risen significantly: it's no longer possible to buy any sort of Countryman for well under £20,000. Still, given that this car is now large enough to compete in a larger section of the Crossover market, you could argue that this is fully justified. The asking figures start at around £22,500 for the least expensive Cooper model and rise to around £30,000 for the car in Cooper SD ALL4 guise. Throughout the range, there's the option of finding around £1,500 more for Steptronic automatic transmission. The 'Cooper S E Countryman ALL4' plug-in hybrid model is priced from around £31,500. Reflecting customer demand for high-end features, equipment levels on this MK2 model have been increased. All variants get a Navigation System, Bluetooth, Cruise Control an Emergency E-call set-up and 'Active Guard' autonomous braking. Naturally, being a MINI, there's broad scope for personalisation, with extensive colour and trim options and advanced technology including a new 8.8" inch touchscreen display as part of the MINI Navigation System XL. The luggage area can be accessed via an optional electric tailgate that can be opened with a wave of your foot beneath the bumper. One unique option is the Picnic Bench - a flexible surface that folds out of the luggage compartment and provides seating for two people.
The Countryman has certainly cleaned up its act. The 2.0-litre diesel unit most will choose returns 64.2mpg on the combined cycle and 113g/km in 'Cooper D' guise - or 61.4mpg and 121g/km on 'Cooper SD' form. Petrol people get a 1.5-litre motor in the 'Cooper' that returns 51.4mpg and 126g/km. Or a 2.0-litre unit in the 'Cooper S' that manages 45.6mpg and 141g/km. The efficiency headline with this MK2 model range is the addition of MINI's first Plug-in hybrid engine, a unit you'll find in the 'Cooper S E Countryman ALL4' variant. Here, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are very low, with 134.5mpg and 49g/km claimed respectively. Plus this model can travel up to 25 miles on electric power alone. Via a wallbox, the 7.6kWh battery can be recharged in two and a quarter hours: use a regular household socket and it'll take an hour longer. As you drive, there's an 'eDrive' toggle switch that gives you three operating modes. In 'Auto', the car will run on electric power alone at speeds of up to 50mph or in 'MAX' at up to 78mph. Finally, there's a 'SAVE Battery' option that allows you to 'freeze' your all-electric charge capability so you can activate it later in your trip - say in urban driving you'll reach at the end of a long motorway haul.
The Countryman is a MINI - but not as many will know it. But then if it was, this Countryman wouldn't be able to continually keep existing MINI people loyal when they out-grew their city runabouts and shopping rockets. Nor would 80% of its sales tempt in buyers new to the brand. Customers liking the vibrant SUV-inspired Crossover concept, but wanting it with a little more tarmac sparkle. This larger, more sophisticated second generation Countryman model has achieved both these things, though arguably at the cost of British style and charisma. Still, now cleaner under the bonnet and smarter inside and out, it's as suited to the urban jungle as a Land Rover is to the Amazon, a car created for the times we live in. And a Country you could be proud of.
BY ANDY ENRIGHT
Three years after the introduction of the hardtop version of the MINI came the Convertible, a vehicle that once again rocketed the Cowley-built but Munich-bankrolled car onto the must-haves list. Two versions were on offer from the outset; the entry-level 90bhp MINI One Convertible and the sporty 116bhp Cooper Convertible. A few months later, MINI surprised everybody by launching the supercharged 170bhp Cooper S drop top. Demand was strong, although, as with any model that is a fashion item, demand can drop off as quickly as it ramps up and with newer rivals now rivalling the MINI Convertible in terms of high street chic, now could be a good time to pick up a cut price used bargain.
Models Covered: Three door hatchback, four door Clubman estate, 2dr Convertible -2006 to date: (1.4, 1.6, 1.6T petrol, 1.6D diesel [First, One, Cooper, Cooper S, Sidewalk])
Rather than delve into the long and vaguely irrelevant history of the original Mini, Year Zero for the 'New' MINI starts at April 2001. Built at Cowley in the UK under the auspices of BMW, the MINI was wildly successful, starting in base One and Cooper guises and spawning various hotter versions as well as a diesel and a Convertible. Its replacement was unveiled late in 2006 to replace this model, but this fact may have escaped many uninformed consumers. BMW figured that there was little benefit in changing the exterior design a great deal and instead concentrated on making the MINI easier to live with. With better engines, more interior space and the addition of a Clubman estate version in 2008 to augment the hatch and convertible models, the MINI's star remains in the ascendancy. An entry level First models with a 75bhp 1.4-litre engine arrived in 2009.
So how can you identify the latest generation car, coded the R56 by MINI? Although the stance remains the same, there's been a loosening of the belt. The Cooper model, for instance, is 60mm longer. The front grille is tidier and the indicators are now housed in the headlight pod. The car's shoulder line is 18mm higher than on the former model, giving the latest version a more hunched, powerful appearance. It's inside the MINI that more obvious improvements were wrought. Gone are those indicators that felt like you were snapping a biro every time you used them. The centrally mounted speedometer houses entertainment and, if specified, navigation functions. The slimmed-down centre console offers more space in the footwells while the key was replaced by a round signal sensor that slots next to the steering wheel. A start/stop button is also fitted as standard. One of the most intriguing, albeit frivolous, aspects of the interior is the optional lights package which features custom ambient illumination. A panel of toggle switches in the roof lining allows the driver to switch the colours of the lights in said roof lining, the door storage pockets and the grab handle recesses. These can be changed at any time in five stages from warm orange to sporting blue, depending on personal taste - quite mad, but undeniably funky. Rear seat space, a big grumble amongst MINI customers, was improved with recessed knee cut-outs in the fabric-trimmed front seat backs.
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Many of the teething troubles that afflicted the previous generation MINI have been laid to rest with the latest car. The 1.6-litre petrol engines, built in the UK at Hams Hall and shared with Peugeot, are some of the best in their class and have proven a good deal sturdier than the 1.6-litre powerplants of the older car. Likewise, interior quality has moved on leaps and bounds. Where the old car would often twitter like the queue for a Girls Aloud gig, the latest car seems to be built of sterner stuff. Customer reliability indices suggest that owners are happier with this generation model as well.
A clutch assembly is around £130. Front brake pads are around £40, a full exhaust about £360, an alternator around £100 and a tyre around £40. A starter motor is about £120. A headlamp is about £165.
The engine line-up merits investigation. The One uses a 95bhp 1.4-litre engine while the diesel in the MINI Cooper D also offers big improvements. The cars that have provoked the biggest clamour, the Cooper and Cooper S, both use versions of the same 1.6-litre powerplant. The Cooper is normally aspirated, this time round being propelled by a 120bhp engine that will get it from rest to 60mph in 8.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 126mph. The Cooper S gets an intercooled and turbocharged version of this engine that's good for 175bhp and will punt it through 60mph in 6.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 140mph. The fuel consumption of both the Cooper variants has improved thanks to the improved efficiency of this modern 1.6-litre powerplant. The combined cycle figure for the Cooper is 48.7mpg (previously 40.9) whilst the Cooper S was a real hog if you were heavy with the right foot but the figure is now 40.9mpg. As with any fuel economy figure, the real world results are usually around fifteen to twenty per cent less. I can clearly recall driving an old Cooper S on track once and getting 11mpg over the course of a tankful! If economy is your number one priority, the 64mpg Cooper D will take some beating. Electromechanical power-assisted steering (EPAS) debuts on this version of the MINI and aims to reduce parking effort (a factor which turned off a proportion of mainly female potential customers) but still retain pinpoint accuracy at speed. Although keen drivers will at first lament the loss of the old system, the latest setup at least features a Sport setting that increases the steering's heft and gives the throttle a more aggressive map. Also fitted as standard on Cooper models are run flat tyres. These are also fitted to the Copper S versions specified with the 16-inch alloy wheels. These tyres have a range of at least 90 miles in the event of a puncture and also mean that valuable space in the car isn't taken up with packaging a spare wheel.
Not even the most deluded optimist could have predicted quite how successful the MINI has turned out to be since its launch in 2001. The shift to German ownership was handled sensibly and sensitively with the heart and soul of the car remaining British. This time round, the MINI range has excised the flaws with Teutonic efficiency. As they have proved with Rolls-Royce, Bentley and now MINI, the Germans are better at building British cars than we are but a used MINI is more than enough fun to make up for this slightly depressing fact.
By Jonathan Crouch
With decent room for four and a good boot, the first generation MINI Countryman opened the possibility of MINI ownership up to buyers who found the smaller models in the range too impractical. It especially targeted buyers thinking of Qashqai-class SUV-style Crossover models, bringing them more performance, sharper handling and all the cute retro design cues that have underpinned this brand's success. Let's check this model out as a used car buy.
5dr SUV (1.6 petrol/2.0 diesel [One/ Cooper / Cooper S/ Cooper SD/ JCW])
Back in the late Sixties, Sir Alec Issigonis, designer of the original British Mini, was faced with a rather difficult task. His little city runabout was a huge success, driven and loved by everyone from Peter Sellers to the Beatles, but beyond it, there was little for family owners to move on to. What was needed was a five-door, four-metre-long sister model that still kept much of the Mini's cleverness. And the result was the Austin Maxi. Forty years on, BMW, by then the owner of the MINI marque, found itself faced with a similar issue. Their new turn of the century MINI Hatch was a hit but it couldn't offer five proper doors or decent space for rear passengers or luggage. Hence the need for this model, a MINI that could - the Countryman. At the time of the original version's 2010 launch, never had anything badged 'MINI' ventured to such a size - or boasted anything like this car's level of five-door practicality. Fully 37cms longer, 10cm wider and 15cm taller than a standard three-door version, this was easily the biggest model the brand had ever built. Its name is borrowed from the old Austin designation for estate cars in times past, models with quaint wood adornment on their rear ends. But this was no Countryman for old men, appealing instead to the youthful, vibrant Crossover market, full of Qashqai-class cars that mixed design ideas from ordinary family hatchbacks and 4x4s to produce practical on-road transport with a dash of off-road ruggedness thrown in. The MK1 model Countryman was mildly updated in 2015, then replaced early in 2017 by a larger second generation version.
Anyone still clinging to vestiges of Britishness in the modernday MINI brand will be a little discomforted by this Countryman. The minimal design cues shared between current-day hatch and the Issigonis original are forgotten here. Unlike other modern MINIs, it was never even built in Blighty, though potential owners will be cheered by the news that early versions rolled along Austrian production lines alongside £150,000 Aston Martin Rapides. Which is not to say that brand identity has been lost. Quite the opposite in fact. Look around and all the usual MINI traits are very much in evidence, from the foursquare stance with wheels pushed right out to the extremities to the unmistakable font end with its rounded headlamps. Everything was scaled up for this larger five-door car though and back in 2010 at this model's original launch, the wheelbase and the overall height of this car was far in excess of anything that this marque had tried before. And it's the same inside, where a stretched floorplan means that at last in this model, a MINI could offer you two proper rear doors and a back seat that two fully-sized adults could get comfortable in. Many buyers were satisfied with two individual rear seats in this car, but for original purchasers, there was also the option of a rear bench, theoretically big enough for three (provided that the middle occupant is a fairly small child). That does mean however, doing without the full extent of a novel centre rail system onto which all manner of (mostly optional) items can be clipped. Most Countryman models you'll find will have cupholders and a sunglasses-holder attached to it, but buyers who made free with the options list could clip on everything from iPhone chargers to dog bowls. The rear seats can recline for greater comfort on longer journeys and slide backwards and forwards so that you can have a large boot or plenty of legroom. Sadly, there's not quite enough space for you to have both at the same time. Still, the VW Golf-rivalling 350-450-litres you do get is double that of an ordinary MINI from this MK1 model Countryman's era, even if the seats-folded total of 1170-litres isn't especially class-competitive. There's a bit of a step up in the boot floor with the seats down too. Up-front, all the expected MINI design cues are present and correct. With the exception of the rather awkward-to-use aircraft-style handbrake, owners familiar with the brand's smaller models will feel right at home. There's the usual over-sized speedometer, here with an optional high definition colour screen at its centre that displays the clever MINI Connected system, capable of replicating everything on your iPhone for easy reference as you drive. Plus the usual (and initially slightly confusing) chromed controls for windows, air conditioning and locking, are all clustered together. What To Look For
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Generally, the MINI Countryman owners we came across in our buyers' survey were pretty satisfied but inevitably, we did come across a few issues. There are various reports of dashboard creaks over bumps, so look out for that on your testdrive, along with the annoying buzzing sound from the doors that one owner we found had to endure. There have been reports of heavy clutch wear on 'ALL4' 4WD models, though that's not such an issue on post-2012 models, which had a more durable clutch assembly. The outside chrome trim apparently has a tendency to peel on the belt line and there have been reports of surface rust taking hold on some components, specifically the water pump and the wheel nuts. Plus corrosion has been reported on the optional two-tone alloy wheels. Finally, we came across a couple of owners who reported that the interior reading lights had a mind of their own, switching on when the car was locked.
(approx based on a 2012 MINI Countryman Cooper D 112bhp excl. VAT) Brake pads are between £30-£45 for cheap brands and up to £65 if you want an expensive make. Brake discs start in the £40 to £70 bracket, but you can pay in the £80 to £110 bracket for pricier brands. Brake callipers sell at around £100. A drive belt is around £12-£15. Air filters sit in the £16-£20 bracket. Oil filters cost between £10 and £22 depending on brand. A wiper blade set is around £4-£15, while a thermostat would be around £35 to £45, though a pricier brand item could cost you up to £85. A timing chain would cost around £28-£55, though a pricier brand item could cost up to £217. A radiator would set you back about £245, while a fuel filter would cost in the £25 to £40 bracket.
This car's price and size suggest it to be a more grown-up thing than any ordinary MINI, safer, more spacious and able to cover longer distances. But as any teenager will tell you, being grown-up can also mean being boring. So does driving a Countryman feel like driving a MINI? First impressions are that it does. You get remarkably quick steering which immediately gives the car a keener feeling than you'd get in the kind of rival Golf-sized hatch or Crossover model you could buy for similar money. A good start then, though once you throw the car hard into a corner, it is immediately obvious that you're driving something quite different from the MINIs we know and love. This model's Crossover class pretentions see it riding 10mm higher than the brand's ordinary three-door model and it's nearly 300kgs heavier, statistics that have to tell somewhere. But even so, this manages to be one of the best driver's choices in this segment, not a class noted for dynamic prowess. Few other small Crossovers would dare come equipped with as much as 184bhp, the output offered in the pokey 1.6-litre petrol Cooper S version which can sprint to sixty in as little as 7.6s on the way to 134mph. This variant, along with the mainstream diesel option, a 112bhp BMW-sourced 1.6, can be had with either front wheel drive or MNI's 'ALL4' 4WD system. This is one of those smart systems able to automatically vary the power distribution between the front and rear axles according to the grip available. Usually, the torque will be split 50/50 front-to-rear, but should conditions get slippery, up to 100% of the power will be automatically directly towards the most appropriate axle. No fiddly knobs or buttons to press: the car will decide what to do and how to do it all on its own. This is no offroader of course, this Country being one designed for snowy pavements, slippery grass and that bit of extra peace of mind on an icy February morning - exactly as many potential buyers will want. The rest of the time, it'll be the fun family runabout you bought it to be in the first place, compensating for its extra bulk with ride quality that's far better than an ordinary MINI, if not quite as good as some rivals, and a slick-shifting 6-speed gearbox that's standard if you don't need the optional Steptronic 6-speed auto. Most Countryman owners of course, won't want to have to afford niceties like powerful engines, auto gearboxes and 4WD. And for them, BMW provided another batch of 1.6s, an entry-level 98bhp petrol unit, also available to Cooper buyers with 122bhp, plus an 90bhp diesel. Don't expect any performance fireworks from these, but most will feel a rest to sixty time of between 12 to 13s on the way to a maximum of around 107mph is quite as fast as they will want to go in a car of this kind.
Here is a MINI - but not as you might know it. But then, if it was conventionally sized, this Countryman wouldn't be able to keep existing MINI people loyal when they out-grew their city runabouts and shopping rockets. Nor would it tempt in buyers new to the brand. Customers liking the vibrant SUV-inspired Crossover concept, but wanting it with a little more tarmac sparkle. This Countryman has done both these things, though at the cost of British style and build. It's as suited to the urban jungle as a Land Rover is to the Amazon. It's a car created for the times we live in. And a Country you could be proud of.
June Neary spends some time with a more versatile MINI, the Countryman
I've always like the thought of owning a MINI but space has always defeated me. MINIs are cute - but just not big enough. Even the Clubman estate, innovative though it is, wasn't quite what I was looking for. But here's a MINI model that may be - the Countryman. The first generation Countryman was the largest MINI to date at its original launch back in 2010 and this MK2 model is larger still, offering extra potential for this cheeky brand to capitalise on the well documented loyalty of its customers. This model provides somewhere to go for those with commitments who, like me, have outgrown a very compact car.
Like all MINIs, this one looks unique, displaying all of the brand's usual traits, from the foursquare stance with the wheels pushed right out to the extremities of the vehicle to the unmistakable font end with its rounded headlamps. Everything is scaled up for this larger five-door car though, with the wheelbase and the overall height far in excess of anything that has gone before. I liked it. MINI's usual high beltline looks even higher on the Countryman and there's a hatchbacked rear end giving access to a bigger 450-litre boot. That's easily enough for pushchairs and the like. The second row of seating now contains three fully-fledged seats and the rear door openings have been enlarged, enabling easier entry and exit. In addition to overall interior width, leg space is now significantly more generous too, with an extra five centimetres of knee room over the previous model. The rear seats can be shifted back and forth by up to 13cm, prioritising either passenger legroom or boot capacity depending on the situation.
If you like the driving experience of the standard third generation MINI models, then you'll like the feel of a Countryman since the recipe very much the same. There are five new engines this time round: two diesels and three petrol-powered variants, all of them featuring MINI's TwinPower turbo technology. Most will want one of the 2.0-litre diesels - there's a 150bhp unit in the Cooper D or a 190bhp powerplant in the Cooper SD that puts out 400Nm of toque, providing for a 0-62mph sprint of just 7.7 seconds. The petrol line-up starts with the 136bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder unit used in the Cooper Countryman. The alternative is the 192bhp 2.0-litre powerplant you'll find in the pokey Cooper S, a variant able to complete the sprint to 62mph from rest in just 7.5 seconds. Steptronic auto transmission with paddleshifters is optional across the range. Another option across the line-up is an improved version of MINI's 'ALL4' all-wheel drive system. This set-up now reacts more quickly and precisely to changing situations. In my opinion, the most interesting engine option though, is the Plug-in hybrid set-up used in the priciest variant, the 'Cooper S E ALL4' model. Here, the 1.5-litre 136bhp Cooper engine is mated with an 88bhp electric motor and the whole package is combined with Steptronic auto transmission and 'ALL4' 4WD. That optional 'ALL4' 4WD system I mentioned is worth having I think, if you're to comfortably get the kids to school in a snowy snap. It's an advanced set-up with an electro-hydraulic differential to vary the power distribution between the front and rear axles according to the detected levels of grip. Under normal conditions, 50% of the engine's output is sent to the rear but as grip is lost, up to 100% of drive can go in that direction. This should add a further dimension to the MINI's acclaimed on-road handling. And it does. Throw the car hard into a corner, and it becomes clear that you're driving something quite different from the MINIs we know and love. It rides higher than the brand's ordinary three-door model and of course, it's much heavier, statistics that have to tell somewhere. But it's one of the better driver's choices in a segment not noted for setting any standards in dynamic prowess.
With prices starting at over the £22,500 mark, it isn't cheap for its size - but it is decently equipped. Reflecting customer demand for high-end features, equipment levels on this MK2 model have been increased. All variants get a Navigation System, Bluetooth, Cruise Control an Emergency E-call set-up and 'Active Guard' autonomous braking. Naturally, being a MINI, there's broad scope for personalisation, with extensive colour and trim options and advanced technology including a new 8.8" inch touchscreen display as part of the MINI Navigation System XL. The luggage area can be accessed via an optional electric tailgate that can be opened with a wave of your foot beneath the bumper. One unique option is the Picnic Bench - a flexible surface that folds out of the luggage compartment and provides seating for two people. Throughout the range, there's the option of finding around £1,500 more for Steptronic automatic transmission. As is the norm elsewhere in the MINI line-up, the Cooper S and JCW cars have a lot more visual aggression about them with a redesigned front grille and more shapely bumpers. Safety-wise, all cars get front, side and curtain airbags along with three-point seatbelts for all occupants.
This was the first MINI that I felt I could really live with, family commitments and all. Yet it isn't boringly practical, the whole reason why MINIs appeal to me in the first place. The Countryman then, is a car that will continue to bring new customers to the brand: they might even include me.