Mini Cooper Countryman: First Look

Countryman1

  • Competes with: VW Tiguan, Honda CR-V, Land Rover LR2
  • Looks like: A Mini SUV, which it is
  • Drivetrain: 120-hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder or 184-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder; front- or all-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: Early 2011

In 2008 Mini introduced its Clubman, a slightly elongated version of its popular Cooper hatchback. That “wagon,” however, wasn’t enough for buyers looking for a larger vehicle or the option of all-wheel drive. Those prayers have been answered with the all-new Mini Cooper Countryman, an actual crossover with Mini’s quirky British style. However, fans will have to wait at least a year before they can buy one.

The fact that the Countryman has optional all-wheel drive and four traditional doors should be enough to please the masses, but there is a lot more to like. Mini is adding variable valve timing to the Cooper S model’s turbo engine for better fuel economy. It also packs 12 more horsepower than the Cooper S hatchback or Clubman. The base engine gets a minor bump in power, too, from 118 to 120. No mileage estimates were given, but expect them to be similar to the current 28/37 mpg city/highway for the base model and 26/34 mpg for the Cooper S version. Seventeen-inch wheels come standard on the Cooper, and 18-inch wheels are standard on the Cooper S. A John Cooper Works edition will come to market sometime in 2011.

What about the cargo area? Is it big? Not really.

Countryman3

Still, at 12.2 cubic feet it dwarfs a traditional Mini’s 5.7 cubic feet and bests the Clubman’s 9.2 cubic feet. With the rear seats folded flat, the Countryman’s cargo area expands to 41 cubic feet versus 24 and 32.8 for the Cooper and Clubman, respectively. A Volkswagen Tiguan, which has one of the smaller cargo areas in the compact SUV class, comes in at 23.8 cubic feet and 56.1 cubic feet when the seats are folded. A VW Golf four-door hatchback rates 15 and 46 cubic feet, respectively.

So it isn’t a do-everything SUV. But what sets the Countryman apart is both the augmented utility compared with the Clubman and Cooper, as well as the first use of all-wheel drive in a modern Mini.

Countryman4

It sounds like an interesting system, too. All-wheel drive is available as an option on either the Cooper or Cooper S Countryman and sends 50% of the power to the rear wheels during most driving. Under heavy acceleration, it can send all of the power to the rear wheels. Along with the fact that Mini says the Countryman will feature the same trademark handling of the rest of the lineup, this all-wheel drive could make the Countryman quite a performer.

Countryman6

The interior looks a lot like the rest of the Mini lineup but with a much larger backseat. It comes standard as a four-seater, but a three-seat rear bench can be added as a no-cost option. Four-seaters use an innovative center storage rack in both seating areas where Mini accessories can clip on to hold drinks, cell phones, sunglasses and other items.

Countryman5

The rear seats slide forward and back and recline, which should make it the most comfortable Mini yet. A panoramic moonroof will also be an available option.

Click here for a full photo gallery.
By David Thomas | January 20, 2010 | Comments (15)

Comments 

H

No way will this come close to the mileage of the Mini Coopers...higher curb weight, more cross-sectional area, larger wheel/tire package, more ground clearance. I like it nonetheless.

H,
In the press release they say they've made these engines more efficient than their current applications so the gains could be offset by the added weight or slightly less. We'll have to wait and see. That's why I said "similar too" meaning could be less.

Tim

Price, price, price. A well equipped Clubman S can flirt with an MSSRP of 30K. That's a lot of coin for Joe American to pay for a car of that size. With this new model being a little bigger, a little more powerful,and likely a little more comfortable, it's going to be a little more expensive. I could see a top of the line AWD easily hitting 35K MSRP. For the amount of "car" I can get elsewhere for that amount, for me, it's still a pass.

Tim,
You're probably right on the top end price. It should be slightly more than a Clubman, and then you have AWD as an option. But if it's priced next to an LR2 and EX35, RDX et al I could still see someone going with the mini, and obviously a lot will go with the base model at a lower price. Plus the Tiguan gets up there in price too and its selling well.

H

Well then I expect my salary is "similar too" Warren Buffet's ;)

Ziggy

I'll wait 5 years and buy a used one.

Jared

The Cooper S is especially fun to drive. Too bad the proposed Cooper diesel version’s not coming over. When I was in Italy 10 years ago, I drove a friend’s diesel compact (a Renault) with a manual and got about 50 MPG.

I think a squared-off back, like the Clubman’s, would help with increasing cargo capacity.

Check out the dash: http://www.cardealerreviews.org/?p=121359

J

Competes with: Tiguan, CR-V, LR2.
How come there is no SX4?

I have an urge to purchase a Mini (mostly because of their looks).
Could they be considered an economical car? I believe they need
premium gas and this may offset any decent mpg ratings.

I currently drive a 2000 Subsru Forrester and drive about 20k an year.
How would they compare in costs?

I’m hoping that we’ll end up with a slew of prototyped ideas and a bunch of happy people. I’m sure there’ll be a lot more hard work until we can turn those embryonic proofs of concept into living

dennis

i have a mini copper 2010 really love this car performance gas mileage style very happy i must say and i will purchase the new 2011 soon enough

dennis

until I see the AWD in a convertible, I'll stick with my Subaru. I am a ragtop man at heart.

Mack K

Considering that new cars depreciate 50% the day you drive them off the lot, all cars are over-priced these days. I know places you can buy a small but comfortable & utilitarian house for what many cars sell for today. I miss the days of simple but rugged no-fangled vehicles you could maintain yourself & if well cared for, could be passed down to future generations (but then car makers & dealers don't make enough money unless you buy more cars more often & have to use their proprietary parts & expensive service depts)

Mack K

Considering that new cars depreciate 50% the day you drive them off the lot, all cars are over-priced these days. I know places you can buy a small but comfortable & utilitarian house for what many cars sell for today. I miss the days of simple but rugged no-fangled vehicles you could maintain yourself & if well cared for, could be passed down to future generations (but then car makers & dealers don't make enough money unless you buy more cars more often & have to use their proprietary parts & expensive service depts)

Rob

Nice move up from my previous Clubman, more comfortable, more room, less mileage (about 5 MPG (20%) less). My Clubman brought me 60% of it's new reatail when I tradded it 3 yrs and 60k later. This was with a $1200 discount off the Countryman!

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