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MINI Countryman Cooper D ALL4: Final report

It’s a fond farewell to our MINI, which has wowed young and old alike...

  • The MINI is a pleasure to drive. Yes, our car was fitted with just about every option available, but it’s fantastic from behind the wheel. I can see why we highly commended the Countryman in the Crossover category at this year’s New Car Awards.
  • Although the MINI returned decent overall economy of 41.1mpg, the fuel gauge got me down. Even after brimming the tank, it only read as full for a few miles. I know it’s just perception, but I want to feel as if my £60 fill-up is going further.
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This is the final report on our long-term MINI Countryman, so I guess I should be reflecting on my nine months behind the wheel with a hint of disappointment and a tinge of excitement about the next car on the driveway. But, in reality, I’m gutted about having to wave goodbye to the MINI, as it has been a fantastic car for my family.

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Not only has it has captured the imagination of my two young children, but my wife (who usually shows no interest in motoring matters) even suggested I contact the firm to see if we could buy it. Talk about winning over your target audience...

Many of the motors I’ve tested in my years at Auto Express have been larger family cars, such as the Peugeot 3008 or Toyota Avensis Tourer. Usually, I’ve loved the space, practicality and refinement models such as these invariably serve up, but there’s often a feeling that something is missing.

The Countryman Cooper D has that missing ingredient in abundance. And no, it’s not the X-Factor. It’s the fun factor, because this car really has been a joy to drive – and I’ve taken it everywhere. My bicycle has been firmly locked in the shed for much of the past year as I’ve preferred to hit the road, despite the financial costs. In fact, there are few other worries associated with the MINI. Unusually for the brand, the Countryman has plenty of room in the back, plus it’s refined and comfortable.

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In fact, it’s been difficult for me to find fault with it. The boot is no match for large family cars, yet it’s perfectly big enough to accommodate enough kit for a few days’ camping. The ALL4 drivetrain also makes it the perfect choice for everything from leafy Scout camps in Croydon to icy winter roads in London.

I’ve spent precious little time off-road in the car, but I know I’ll really miss the security provided by its all-wheel-drive traction if the harsh winter currently being predicted becomes a reality.

Other aspects I rate highly include the built-in sat-nav, which is one of the most intuitive I’ve ever used, and the simple iDrive-inspired control system.

I admit to being sceptical about the cream leather interior, which I expected to be trashed after nine months with two boys in the back. Yet it cleaned up well before the MINI headed back to base.

All of these options come at a cost, and the combined kit on our test car added up to a whopping £7,640. Suffice to say, Mrs Wilson won’t be getting her hands on this particular model, but I wouldn’t rule out a Countryman in the future.

Extra Info

“I took Darren’s MINI to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where I had a ride in the World Rally Championship version. While the Countryman can’t match the racer’s thrills, the road car was far more comfortable!”

Dean Gibson, Deputy Chief Sub

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Creative director

As Creative director, Darren predominantly looks after the Auto Express magazine; whilst consulting for LRM, Evo and Enzo. He manages everything from photography briefs to layout and logo design. Darren has worked in the motoring industry for over 25 years and loves it.  e-mail: darren_wilson@dennis.co.uk

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