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Car group tests

MINI Countryman vs Audi Q2 vs Volvo V40 Cross Country

The new MINI Countryman is bigger and better than ever, so does it have what it takes to beat the Audi Q2 and Volvo V40 Cross Country?

MINI claims it has repositioned its Countryman for this second-generation version, so it’s now more of a conventional crossover compared with its predecessor – a car that awkwardly straddled the line between compact off-roader and conventional hatch.

That means the Countryman has landed right in the firing line of two premium crossovers; the Audi Q2 and Volvo V40 Cross Country.

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Audi plugged yet another niche in its model line-up with its Q2. The supermini-sized SUV sits underneath the larger Q3 in the range, offering the brand image you’d expect from an Audi but at more affordable prices.

• Best crossovers on sale right now

While the Volvo isn’t exactly the new kid on the block, the Swedish firm has kept its higher-riding V40 Cross Country hatch fresh. Last year the car’s looks were updated, and the brand’s best-selling model in the UK inherited the XC90 SUV’s ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED running lights. However, the Countryman sits on an all-new platform with clever tech underneath, so it has a few tricks up its sleeve to trouble its challengers. 


MINI Countryman 

Model:MINI Cooper D Countryman
Price: £24,425
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 148bhp 
0-60mph: 9.2 seconds
Test economy: 37.7mpg/8.3mpl 
CO2: 113g/km  
Annual road tax: £30

This new second-generation MINI Countryman is launching with a range of powertrains. From front-wheel drive to four-wheel drive, efficient turbo petrols to (later this year) MINI’s first ever plug-in hybrid, the new Countryman offers plenty of choice. However, diesel is still popular in this market, so it’s the £24,425 manual Cooper D Countryman we test here. 

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Testers’ notes: “There’s plenty of scope for personalisation, with contrasting roof and mirror colours available. You can team this with bonnet stripes and themes, but these hike the price.”

Audi Q2

Model:Audi Q2 1.6 TDI Sport
Price: £24,500
Engine:1.6-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 114bhp 
0-60mph: 10.1 seconds
Test economy: 51.4mpg/11.3mpl 
CO2:  114g/km
Annual road tax: £30

The Audi Q2 is the brand’s first crack at the compact crossover class, and combines an upmarket image with cutting-edge kit and low running costs. There’s a wide range of engine and transmission options available, and here we test the 1.6-litre TDI in mid-spec £24,500 Sport guise – although the car in our pictures is a 1.4 TFSI.

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Testers’ notes: “If you want your Q2 with a 148bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesel and two-wheel drive, you’ll have to wait. For now, this bigger unit is only available with quattro all-wheel-drive.”

Volvo V40 Cross Country

Model:Volvo V40 D2 Cross Country Nav Plus
Price: £24,805
Engine:2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 118bhp 
0-60mph: 10.4 seconds
Test economy: 44.1mpg/9.7mpl 
CO2: 99g/km
Annual road tax: £0

Like its rivals, Volvo’s V40 Cross Country takes the firm’s regular hatchback platform and raises the ride height to give it some more rugged appeal. However, this £24,805 D2 Cross Country Nav Plus (the car in our pictures is a D4) is a two-wheel-drive model that mixes crossover looks and practicality with low running costs. A facelift last year kept the V40 looking fresh, but are its older underpinnings enough to compete against the newest offerings in the sector?

Testers’ notes: “Four-wheel drive is available on the Volvo, but not with diesel power; only the expensive and not-so-efficient T5 petrol auto. Even then, the V40’s ability on the rough stuff is limited.” 


First place: MINI Countryman 

The rugged MINI finally delivers on the rough-edged promise of its predecessor. The ungainly looks won’t be to all tastes, but it’s the most refined, practical and fun-to-drive model here, plus it leads the way for quality. There’s also loads of personalisation options, including a number of family-friendly upgrades. The fact it delivers the most performance per pound is the icing on the cake. 

Second place: Audi Q2 

There’s no denying that Audi’s Q2 oozes showroom appeal. It looks great, features a slickly designed interior and gets all the essential kit. It’s also backed by the best residuals and delivers decent practicality. However, the firm ride undermines the driving experience, while the quality isn’t up to the usual Audi standards. It also looks expensive in this company. 

Third place: Volvo V40 Cross Country

The V40 is the priciest choice for cash buyers and finance customers, plus the least practical. Volvo’s infotainment system also looks old hat next to the Countryman and Q2’s more modern set-ups, so it finishes last here. Visual updates have kept it looking fresh, and while it’s comfy, refined and cheap to run for business users, it doesn’t cover all the bases as effectively as its rivals.

Other options for similar money... 

New: Mazda CX-3 1.5D Sport Nav

Price: £22,195Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl, 104bhp

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The CX-3 beat the Q2 when we tested them along with the Mercedes GLA late last year, and although it trails the MINI on power, it’s much cheaper, while offering a similarly sophisticated experience. It’s not as spacious, but is more efficient, with lots of standard kit. 

Used: Range Rover Evoque SD4 Pure

Price: £25,000Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl, 187bhp 

For similar money to the MINI, you could have a 2013 Range Rover Evoque in Pure trim with 45,000 miles on the clock. The older 2.2 diesel is a bit noisy, but has plenty of power, and it offers practicality and style to match the MINI.


 MINI Cooper D CountrymanAudi Q2 1.6 TDI SportVolvo V40 D2 Cross Country Nav Plus
On-the-road price/total as tested£24,425/£32,145£24,500/£24,500£24,805/£24,805
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£11,751/48.1%£13,255/54.1%£9,247/37.3%
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£1,072/£2,145£1,076/£2,151£941/£1,881
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,765/£2,942£1,295/£2,158£1,509/£2,515
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/costTBC/£740/C/£3014/£497/C/£3018/£579/A/£0
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£299 (3yrs/60k)TBC£271/£271/£426
Engine4cyl in-line/1,995cc4cyl in-line/1,598cc4cyl in-line/1,969cc
Peak power 148/4,000 bhp/rpm114/3,250 bhp/rpm118/3,750 bhp/rpm
Peak torque 330/1,750 Nm/rpm250/1,500 Nm/rpm280/1,500 Nm/rpm
Transmission 6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel51 litres/£12050 litres/£10062 litres/£150
Boot capacity (seats up/down) 450/1,390 litres405/1,050 litres324/1,021 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,480/595/1,500kg1,310/560/1,500kg1,434/405/1,500kg
Turning circle11.4 metres11.1 metres11.2 metres
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (unlimited)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealersVariable/148Variable (1yr)/11818,000 (1yr)/114
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.29th/21st21st/26th13th/17th
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/pointsN/A93/86/70/70/5 (2016)98/75/88/100/5 (2012)
0-60/30-70mph9.2/8.1 secs10.1/9.8 secs10.4/10.5 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 4.0/6.0 secs4.3/6.5 secs4.0/6.0 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th 7.9/10.3 secs10.1/14.6 secs9.4/12.5 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 129mph/2,000rpm122mph/1,900rpm118mph/1,900rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 47.0/34.0/11.3m51.1/32.3/10.0m54.2/35.3/13.1m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph75/52/65/73dB69/44/61/69dB74/54/70/71dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range37.7/8.3/428 miles51.4/11.3/565 miles44.1/9.7/601 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 58.9/70.6/65.7mpg57.6/68.9/64.2mpg67.3/78.5/74.3mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 13.0/15.5/14.5mpl12.7/15.2/14.1mpl14.8/17.3/16.3mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket201/113g/km/22%147/114g/km/22%172/99g/km/19%
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraEight/yes/yes/£310Six/yes/£350/£350Seven/yes/yes/£375
Auto box/stability/cruise ctrl/AEB^£1,595/yes/yes/yes£1,550/yes/yes/yes£1,485/yes/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seats£460/£1,550/£270£525/£1,300/£300Yes/£900/£575*
Metallic paint/LED lights/keyless go£550/£1,110/£350£550/£975/£350£550/yes/£550
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes
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