MINI Countryman review
The new-for-2017 Mini Countryman offers better space, greater efficiency and more advanced tech than its predecessor
The MINI Countryman is a car that enthusiasts of the original Mini love to hate – but buyers can’t get enough of them. The first generation car sold well all the way up to its replacement, and the Mk2 is just as popular while the crossover boom continues.
Like the MINI Hatch and Clubman estate, the Countryman is bigger and more expensive than before. It’s also more spacious inside, now proving to be a truly practical family car, while interior quality has taken a significant step up. It drives well, too – sacrificing some of the enjoyment of smaller MINIs for a grown-up and refined driving experience.
With the Countryman now available with petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid powertrains, there's a model for everyone, so it's easier than ever to recommend.
The MINI Countryman is the biggest car for sale in the MINI line-up. That makes it something of a contradiction to the original Mini ethos, but it has used the retro appeal of the classic car to attract SUV buyers wanting an upmarket family car with some clever packaging.
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Launched in 2017, the current Countryman added a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant to the range alongside the standard petrol and diesel models. However, as well as offering more variety and additional space, the price of the MINI Countryman has also risen, starting from around £23,500 and rising to £34,000 for the plug-in hybrid version.
This price range means the MINI Countryman goes up against a variety of rivals in the premium small SUV class. There's the Audi Q2 or slightly larger Q3, the Mercedes GLA, Volvo XC40 and Lexus UX, while cars like the VW T-Roc and Mazda CX-3 offer something different for a little less outlay.
As with the rest of the MINI range, the Countryman comes in Cooper, Cooper D and Cooper S variants, but these are joined by the Cooper S E PHEV plug-in hybrid, too. This is the core of the line-up, while there are Classic, Exclusive and Sport packages that bundle desirable kit together. All cars come in Classic spec as standard, while the Sport and Exclusive packs are the same price in terms of upgrading.
The Cooper features a 134bhp 1.5 three-cylinder turbo petrol that's found across the BMW and MINI line-ups, while the Cooper S has a 189bhp turbo four-cylinder. The last round of updates saw the John Cooper Works (JCW) model dropped from the line-up, so this is the most powerful Countryman currently on sale.
Diesel power is catered for by the 148bhp Cooper D, as there is no longer a more powerful Cooper SD offered. All cars are available with a six-speed manual or optional six-speed auto, except for the PHEV. This has the auto gearbox as standard to manage power between its electric motor and 1.5-litre petrol engine. Front-wheel drive is standard, while MINI ALL4 four-wheel drive is available as an option, although again this is standard on the PHEV.
For the ultimate in efficiency, the PHEV offers a zero-emissions driving range of 12 miles on electric power, although of course you're only going to reap the benefits by plugging the battery in to recharge as often as possible.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe new-for-2017 Mini Countryman offers better space, greater efficiency and more advanced tech than its predecessor
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe Countryman’s ride is quite firm, but in handling and refinement terms it’s up there with the class best
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe Countryman is competitive across the board for running costs, justifying its high purchase price
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe Countryman’s exterior look is divisive, but the attention to detail in the interior is impressive, while quality and tech are both top notch
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe larger size means more space for passengers and luggage, and makes the Countryman a genuine small SUV
- 6Reliability and SafetyThere’s a wealth of safety kit as standard, which should stand the Countryman in good stead, although the brand’s reliability record should be better