The MINI Countryman is no MINI me

MINI Countryman | The MINI Countryman is no MINI me

Written and Images byAdam Tonkin

In 2005 BMW took a leap of faith by investing £100M (A$180 M in 2005) into the MINI plant at Oxford to capitalise on MINI’s new found popularity.

MINI has since adopted BMW’s philosophy of producing cars to compliment lifestyle changes thus broadening the appeal of the brand.

Add a child seat, a pram and a weeks’ worth of groceries to your beloved two door MINI Cooper S JCW GP Edition and practicality just doesn’t add up. What is a MINI owner to do? Buy a Countryman!

MINI released the Countryman in 2011 and earlier this year it received a freshen up to port all the modern conveniences MINI has to offer.

The five door layout provides easy access to any seat in the house, with rear seat anchor points for baby and toddler seat. The Countryman also features dual sunroofs for front and rear passengers with a decent sized boot that is on par with the trunk space of a mid-sized sedan.

Exterior Styling

The Countryman is classed as a CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle) and looks like a MINI Cooper on steroids with its over stated front facia and bulky rear end that adds size and mass to the once neat and petite classic MINI.

It sits taller than the standard MINI Cooper but it is all in proportion to the rest of the exterior. Huge overstated headlights set the tone of its growth from the front, with muscled bodywork and plastic that protects the entire bottom edge and around each wheel arch. From a distance it looks like it has fallen into the IKEA plastic bin, yet still looks cool!

MINI’s unique power bulge in the bonnet remains even in the standard model, which adds spunk to this British bravado. A deep chin spoiler rounds out the front end. The 17” matte black rims look smart and provide excellent camouflage for the excessive brake dust for which most European cars are famous. The rims are wrapped in Continental ContiPremiumContact 2 run-flat tyres which can’t be faulted.

The stock Countryman sports only one exhaust tip but its chrome adds a classy touch to the bulbous rear end.

Interior Styling

The once quirky MINI interior has now become part of the norm. Functionality across the MINI range hasn’t changed a great deal making it fairly typical in MINI terms.

Once the key is inserted into the dash, the push button start will fire the engine into life. The driving position is spot on and the leather seats are a nice touch offering plenty of support, however though more lumbar support wouldn’t go astray.

Ergonomics from behind the wheel work well, although MINI may want to relook the height of the brake pedal as it seems quite high off the floor causing a potential issue for drivers with smaller feet.

Fun and function are the order of the day with buttons on the steering wheel looking similar to those on a Sony PlayStation hand control. Chrome switchgear is used in favour of buttons but again it’s cool and to be expected.

The ‘KING’ sized tacho still takes pride of place in the middle of the dash which surrounds the new 6.5” TFT screen housing the multimedia and radio functions, including satnav and vehicle option settings. Dual sunroofs allow fresh air and light to enter the cabin however with sunlight comes heat and the standard tint and cloth screen only do so much to keep temperatures at bay.

The Countryman provides space and flexibility in spades. Passengers up to 6ft 5” tall will fit comfortably in the front or rear with adequate head and leg room whilst grocery shopping for the average family will fit in the boot with ease. The boot floor can be removed to open more storage space and the rear seats almost fold flat to provide a long and wide open carry compartment.

Drive Review

Across a week the Countryman was driven 533 kms on all types of roads and as we’re in Melbourne, in various weather conditions! Close the driver’s door and you will hear a resounding thud thanks to the solid boxy construction, an edge the Countryman has over its competitors.

From behind the wheel, the driving experience is an enjoyable one and once up to speed, the Countryman feels as much at home on the open road as it does whizzing through city streets. At 1295 KG it’s anything but light for a car of its size however that’s down to steel being used to give the MINI its rigidity which in-turn improves handling and occupant safety. Road noise is kept to a minimum thanks to sound deadening and newly designed Continental run-flat tyres.

Suspension is firm and solid. Brakes provide good bite and stopping power with the steering feeling light and direct.

The 1.6L in-line 4 cylinder won’t impress you with its acceleration or its 0 – 100 time of 11.6 seconds although its economy might. Merging onto the freeway can be hard work especially if you don’t have much of a run up, but its ability to get up and shift through city traffic may just surprise you.

Its frugal ability to sip fuel as it goes about its business makes a pleasant impression on the hip pocket. It has a tiny 44 litre tank but it is large enough to see you travel 500 plus kilometres each fill.

Images by Adam Tonkin

Safety Systems

  • Airbags for driver and front passenger (2 front, 2 Side, 2 Curtain)
  • Anti-Lock Braking system including Brake Assist and Cornering Brake Control
  • Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)
  • Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) including Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC)
  • Electronic Braking Force Distribution Control
  • Park Distance Control (PDC)
  • Run-Flat Indicator

Service Costs

MINI now offers a TLC service, tender, loving, care package on all new MINI’s Australia wide. The MINI TLC servicing package combines all scheduled servicing costs for five years or 70,000km for just $850.

Vehicle Details

Year | Make | Model 2014 | MINI Cooper | Countryman
Built Oxford Plant – United Kingdom
Engine 1.6 in-line 4 cylinder
Kilowatts 90
Horsepower 122
Maximum Torque 160 / 4,250
Fuel Consumption 7.6L/100 (City and Hwy Combined)
Drive Front-Wheel Drive
0 – 100 11.6 (Manufacturer Quoted)
Transmission 6-Speed Automatic
Fuel Tank 47
Weight 1295 (Kerb Weight)
ANCAP Safety Rating 4 Star – Last tested DEC 2011
Warranty Three Years with unlimited km/mi
Roadside Assist Optional

Key Competitors

The Countryman is big when compared to the rest of the MINI line-up and puts the cat amongst the pigeons when it comes to price and FUNctionality against its rivals.

5-Door Hatch  > Fiat Panda, Audi A3, Mazda3, KIA Soul

Small SUV      > Ford KUGA, Honda CR-V, Volkswagen Tiguan

Final Thought

The overall look and feel of the Countryman is a winning combination especially for couples and families wanting to stay in the MINI family. Extra space and comfort are highlighted in the size of the Countryman without it losing its MINI characteristics and drivability. The entry level Countryman is well priced in the MINI range for the level of standard options.

Pricing and Features

Model Engine kW | HP | RPM Transmission MSRP
MINI Countryman 1.6L 4 Cylinder Petrol 90 / 122 / 6000 Manual and Auto $34,150.00
MINI Countryman S 1.6L 4 Cylinder Petrol 140 / 190 / 5500 Manual $42,550.00
MINI Countryman ALL4 1.6L 4 Cylinder Petrol 135 / 184 / 5500 Manual $45,550.00

Feedback and Links

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For details on the MINI range including options and specifications, click >

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