As sure as night follows day, each iteration of MINI is slightly less focussed, and more challenging on the eye than the last, and the latest Countryman is no exception. However in the shape of the ALL4 variant there is much to admire as well as lament.
Firstly the diesel drivetrain is a good one. It produces just under 150 bhp but more importantly it also kicks out 258 lb ft of torque from just 1,750 rpm. To get that power to the wheels you get the choice of either manual or automatic gearboxes, but in either case all wheel drive ensures the MINI makes the most of deploying that torque. The net result is decent real world performance and impressive official fuel economy.
Once on the move it is clear that the Countryman has a very different character to the hatch, it rides with much greater control and gets a slower steering rack which suits the more mature suspension set up well. It actually makes the Countryman easier to drive down bumpy challenging roads, so against expectation it can be more fun than the hatch on typical British B roads as it flows better but still retains a sense of fun.
Despite majoring on style, the Countryman still scores well in the practicality stakes. The 450 litre boot is sensible and if you can drop the rear seats you get 1,390 litres which will cope with most things you could reasonably expect to throw in the back. And of course the MINI still delivers one of the best looking interiors in the class ticking the feel good factor box every time.
The Countryman D ALL4 blends all wheel drive practicality, with a top class interior and a more mature chassis set up which delivers the fun factor without the relentless puppy dog bounce that can hamper the hatch. Against all the odds it might just be the best allrounder in the MINI range, and with the 2 litre diesel unit it is also remarkably efficient too.