BMW’s decision to revive the MINI was controversial but has been a big success. So much so that BMW now wants to turn MINI into a range of models. The Clubman estate was the first indication of this and now we have the Countryman.
BMW’s thinking is clear. The MINI has carved out a niche for buyers looking for a trendy, characterful supermini but what happens when they want to trade up? The Countryman is designed to provide that next step, it should encompass the spirit of the hatch but with the practicality and space of more mainstream rivals.
On the road the Countryman does a good job of maintaining the fun factor. The weight gain over the hatch is relatively modest as is the increase in ride height which all contributes to a surprising lack of body roll. Off road performance will not worry Land Rovers, but compared to SUVs the Countryman is fun.
The Cooper S ALL4 uses the turbocharged version of the 1.6 litre engine producing 184 bhp and 177 lb.ft of torque. Peak torque is available over a wide range from a very low 1,600 rpm to around 5,000 rpm. This gives it great flexibility and endows the Countryman with an impressive turn of speed.
The Countryman offers space for four adults and keeps the MINI character, but it also retains some MINI compromises. The boot isn’t massive, the classic central speedometer pushes the switches to the floor, and it isn’t exactly cheap. However it is much quicker than SUV rivals and better to drive too.
If you want a road-orientated crossover the MINI Countryman Cooper S ALL4 is worth a look.