MINI Countryman review
The not-so-little MINI Countryman offers family friendly space, with efficiency and an indomitable style
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.
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 and plug-in hybrid powertrains, it's easier than ever to recommend.
About the MINI Countryman
Thanks to its somewhat inflated dimensions, the MINI Countryman is a car that enthusiasts of the original Mini love to hate, but buyers can’t get enough of them. It may be a little at odds with the spirit of the company, but the first generation sold well all its life, and this Mk2 version continues to be popular as the crossover boom intensifies.
Launched in 2017 and refreshed again in 2020, the Countryman line-up includes a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant as well as petrol options, but the diesel has been axed in the light of fading consumer interest. However, as well as offering an alternative powertrain choice and the additional space of a larger body, the MINI Countryman price tags have also risen inexorably over the years. They now start from around £25,000 for the basic Cooper, rising to a substantial £38,000 for the high performance John Cooper Works (JCW).
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 and Volvo XC40, while cars like the VW T-Roc and Mazda CX-3 offer something different for a little less outlay.
Car group tests
- Kia Niro PHEV vs MINI Countryman PHEV
- DS 3 Crossback vs MINI Countryman
- Volkswagen T-Roc vs Audi Q2 vs MINI Countryman
- MINI Countryman S E vs VW Golf GTE vs Mitsubishi Outlander
- New MINI Countryman JCW 2021 review
- New MINI Countryman PHEV 2020 review
- Long-term test review: MINI Countryman PHEV
Used car tests
As with the rest of the MINI range, the Countryman comes in Cooper and Cooper S versions, with two- and four-wheel-drive variants available. These are joined by the Cooper S E PHEV plug-in hybrid, and the range-topping JCW which packs a seriously powerful punch with its 302bhp engine.
The Cooper, Cooper S and PHEV come in Classic, Exclusive and Sport packages that bundle desirable kit together. Classic spec is effectively the standard trim level, while the Sport and Exclusive packs are the same price but the former gives you sports seats and racy detailing, while the later offers leather upholstery and a more refined ambience. Sitting at the top of the range is the JCW which has a spec all of its own.
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 now has a 176bhp turbo four-cylinder unit.
All front-wheel-drive cars come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with an optional seven- speed dual-clutch automatic. However, if you opt for an all-wheel-drive Countryman with Sport or Exclusive trim, an eight-speed torque converter automatic is fitted by default.
For the ultimate in efficiency, the PHEV offers a zero-emissions driving range of around 31 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.
If you're looking to buy a MINI Countryman, why not check out our sister site buyacar.co.uk for the latest deals...
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe not-so-little MINI Countryman offers family friendly space, with efficiency and an indomitable style
- 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, which helps to justify 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 spaceWith good space for passengers and luggage, the Countryman is a genuine small SUV
- 6Reliability and SafetyCustomers can be reassured by the Countryman's good standard safety kit and top Euro NCAP rating