Adventure. That’s what the MINI Countryman embodies in its rugged structure.
Let me be the first to admit I had some awful presumptions about the Mini countryman – big and clumsy. I imagined it would handle as well as a paper boat in choppy waters! How surprised was I when I used (and abused) the name Countryman, and took it to the country roads…
The Countryman Cooper SD ALL4 is typically mini, albeit higher and bolder than the other models in the range, with the addition of roof rails as standard. The design traits are still that of the iconic Mini. Round headlights, contrast roof and it is available in a wide range of colours. Personalisation lies at the heart of MINI. The car I had for the weekend has the Chili pack on it, which means it reaps the benefits of LED lights and 18″ light pin spoke alloys with run-flat tyres on the exterior. Visually, the car is a nice piece of eye candy!
The interior stimulates your senses just as much, if not more than the exterior. As soon as you open the door the customisable ambient lighting puts on a show using a rainbow of colours to welcome you into your cockpit. And it really does seem like you’re in a race car thanks to the quirky chrome flip switches. And the big red start/stop engine switch feels like you’re about to launch a spaceship. It has a real retro feel to it – which adds to the fun factor.
In the centre of the playful interior is an interactive 6.5″ screen surrounded by a dynamic LED ring. In essence, the infotainment system is BMW’s i-Drive with a few MINI touch-ups. All Countryman’s come with Satellite Navigation, DAB radio, and Bluetooth as standard. The John Cooper Works multi-function steering wheel makes it super easy to change radio stations or adjust the volume without taking your eyes off the road and the speech command function is great and accurately calls my friends when I’m ready for a road trip. Keyless entry and keyless start, cruise control and park assist make for a no-fuss driving experience from beginning to end.
Even with the MINI Countryman Cooper SD ALL4 being packed with technology and funky designs, there is still plenty of space for storing your personal items. Whether you’re heading to the mountains for a bit of snowboarding or just doing a well-deserved shopping spree, you won’t lack space thanks to the 450 litres of boot space (1,320L with seats folded down). That’s more space than that available in the rival Audi Q2! There’s no loading lip either so there’s no struggle.
The ALL4 system is brilliant! Having the 4 wheel drive enabled me to throw this car around and still have complete confidence in it. The Countryman is a similar style to the BMW X1 but the Countryman is lower and so it handles corners much better. It grips the roads and darts through corners. It’s sharp. The Countryman Cooper SD also has various drive modes. My favourite was sports mode: “Maximum Go-Kart Feel”. With the automatic gearbox, sports mode, sports paddles and 190bhp in the 2.0L diesel, it really did feel like driving a go-kart. FUN. I mainly drove in sports mode along country roads and averaged 43mpg (official figures: 61.4mpg combined) so fuel consumption is excellent too. Town driving is a piece of cake also. Pre-collision assist and progressive steering act as an aide to you to help avoid any unnecessary stress.
In fact, the hardest part of my entire experience with the MINI Countryman Cooper SD ALL4 was handing the keys back.
I fell in love with the sheer versatility of this compact SUV – whether town driving or weaving through country roads, you’ll have a smile on your face. You can pick up a MINI Countryman from just £22,300! But in true BMW Group fashion, that price bumps up with every “optional” extra… some of which seem essential rather than optional. It may be an expensive buy in the end but I promise it’s worth it. You really can have your cake and eat it. If you don’t need such a big car then you could have a look into the MINI Clubman – it packs a punch just as much as the Countryman, just in a more compact way.