The Mini Countryman was first released in 1961 as a two-door estate. The model was then known for its wooden inserts meant to evoke its relation to the Morris Minor estate. Since then the Mini Countryman has evolved into its own as both the company’s first SUV and the primary four-wheel-drive model. Given the Countryman’s specific size and purpose, the model also represents the brand’s biggest stretch.
The Mini Countryman is the brand’s largest model, measuring four metres long. This makes it a foot longer than the Mini but almost the same length as the supermini. There are two doors on each side of the Countryman’s body, which the company refers to as a large tailgate. The model also features a distinguished upright stance via its 15cm longer height and 10cm wider width. Visible seams have been retained from the first Countryman and have been seamlessly integrated into the vent surrounds along the A-pillar line that goes until the wheel arch.
The Countryman also combines elements from the hatchback, such as a large bonnet on the drapes and wings around the light clusters. The middle bulge on the bonnet is unnecessary in terms of form as it adds more rigidity, but it does give the design an extra punch.
Functional design elements are not to be missed in the Countryman. The sculpting details allow for air to be cleaved from the car rear, while avoiding too much turbulence and reducing drag. Dirt build-up is also prevent on the rent screen thanks to this feature.
The interior may have its downsides, but the Countryman does provide enough passenger space. Elbow and head room is more than enough for four adults. Tall passengers won’t have a problem fitting into the 60/40 split of the rear bench.
Although the Countryman has a good-looking cockpit, its ergonomics are of poor quality. The dashboard does have a unique design, but the oversized speedo and high-definition colour screen take up too much space at the centre. The switchgear layout is also quite confusing due to the windows controls, air conditioning, and locking all crowded in the same area. There are also impractical features such as a rail for attaching sliding accessories. This tends to divide the front seats and goes up to the rear cabin if you decide to stick with single seats. It looks off and the function unnecessary. The boot also has limited space at 350 litres with all seats unfolded; this can prove to be too little for a large family. It grows more at 450 litres when the rear seats are slid forward, but this removes legroom.
The engine doesn’t perform as well as it should. The 1.6-litre N47 can easily drive you through every day journeys, but cruising along any other road conditions reveals the motor’s weakness. The 1.6D also struggles when you decide to accelerate, so consider upgrading to the Cooper SD’s 2.0-litre diesel for a better and more consistent performance. The SD’ engine is built to offset the Countryman’s bulky weight.
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