The new MINI Countryman is going after the Nissan Qashqai (and responding to the new Audi Q2) with the biggest Mini-badged model in 57 years.
Giving the most-misunderstood modern MINI much more relevance, the new Countryman may carry similar styling but is a far more well-formed model than the previous one – and, surprisingly, it’s on sale TODAY ahead of deliveries beginning in February 2017. Here’s what you need to know.
How big is the new MINI Countryman?
Key to the new MINI Countryman’s potential newfound appeal is the fact it’s grown. A lot. It’s 200mm longer, 30mm wider, has a 75mm longer wheelbase. Instead of being little more than four metres long, it’s now around 4.3 metres in length – a bit longer than the new Audi Q2 and not that far shy of the Nissan Qashqai. “It’s much bigger” say insiders. And it’s this that will make the model relevant.
Where does the new MINI Countryman compete?
MINI says the new Countryman is now a C-segment car. That means it’s a crossover-infused alternative to, say, a Qashqai, or a posh MINI you’d consider instead of a Focus – maybe even instead of a Volkswagen Golf. Something the current model could never claim to be. It seems MINI is no longer shy about going big.
The interior is much more upmarket
A big criticism of the current MINI Countryman is its rather un-premium interior. That’s cured with this one. Materials are higher-quality, there’s more premium-like attention to detail and it will finally feel like the cool sibling of BMW-brand cars, rather than a curiously downmarket one.
It is much roomier inside
The new MINI Countryman is a full five-seater, says the firm. Again, not something the current compromised car could claim to be. There’s 50mm more legroom and the rear seats slide back and forth by a hefty 130mm.
It has a far bigger boot
The boot capacity of the new MINI Countryman is… wait for it… 450 litres. And that’s with the seats up. A Volkswagen Golf? 380 litres. This is a massive increase: it’s 20 litres bigger than a Nissan Qashqai, for heaven’s sake! Fold the 40:20:40 split rear seats and it extends to 1,309 litres. That’s 220 litres up on before. MINI goes practical.
It has a picnic bench
Just to underline the new Countryman’s newfound practicality and crossover-ability, MINI is offering an optional ‘Picnic Bench’. This folds out of the boot and provides a seat for two people. Who needs that Range Rover, anyway?
It looks like the current MINI Countryman…
MINI is famed for its evolutionary styling and, despite the revolution beneath the surface, it’s not changed that with this new Countryman. It’s instead given it more muscle and more crossover kudos – check the form in the front and rear wings. Satin aluminium roof rails are standard, matched by aluminium sill plates to make it look taller. Other metal-look bits pump up the 4×4 elements too.
… And MINI is cool with this
Here’s old (left) and new (right) MINI Countryman. Similar, huh? But how much more presence does the new car have? Second time lucky for the designers?
It can have a central touchscreen
For the first time ever, a MINI has a touchscreen infotainment system. The famous round central display gains prod-ability for a much more contemporary experience. It’s optional – sat nav is standard on all models but usually controlled by the BMW iDrive-style controller by the handbrake – but the 8.8in screen may still become a must-have, just because.
There’s stowage space everywhere
Owners of the current Countryman could, for all MINI’s talk of lifestyley stowage solutions and central sliding rails, never quite find enough suitable places to put their stuff. Fixed here. There’s much more on-board stowage, from front and rear doors that tale 1-litre bottles, to a massive cubby in the centre console, to more cupholders and a space-saving electric parking brake (be gone, impossible-to-use current lever!).
MINI Find Mate helps you find the stuff you’ve lost
All this newfound space makes it far more likely you’ll lose stuff on-board. MINI Find Mate to the rescue: these are tags you can put on bags, keyrings, backpacks and the like. It lets you track exactly where they are in the car – and fire a warning bleep to help you find them on-board.
There’s a lot of standard equipment
All MINI Countryman get a lot of standard kit. The feature list on all includes sat nav, Bluetooth, cruise control, 16-inch alloys autonomous-brake Active Guard and an emergency e-call feature. Cooper S and Cooper SD models add 17-inch alloys and part-leather upholstery. 75% of buyers will take the Chili option pack, which adds climate control, sports seats, LED headlights and user-selectable driving modes, amongst other bits.
It is now MINI Connected
Like BMW Connected, there’s now MINI Connected personal mobility assistant – making the Countryman a MINI that’s fully connected with devices such as the Apple iPhone and Apple Watch. It means there’s an app for communicating with your car (and finding it when you’ve lost it in a car park). The new Countryman syncs with your digital calendar. Will tell you to eat your breakfast more quickly if it spots traffic on your commute.
The new MINI Countryman is faster
The engine range comprises all-turbo motors: the Cooper-branded engines at launch are a 136hp 1.5-litre turbo petrol Cooper, which does 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds, or a 150hp 2.0-litre turbodiesel that does 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds. The Cooper S has a 192hp 2.0-litre turbo petrol for 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds (or 7.2 seconds if you pick the ALL4 all-wheel drive auto), while the 190hp 2.0-litre turbodiesel Cooper SD does 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds or 7.4 seconds as an ALL4.
The new MINI Countryman is greener
MINI says the new Countryman will average up to 64.2mpg and emit as little as 113g/km CO2. Expect future additional models to be greener still.
There is a plug-in hybrid MINI Countryman
If you want even greener, pick the new plug0in hybrid MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4. This has a turbo petrol engine with an electric motor and extended capacity batteries. For a claimed 134.5mpg… combined with 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds. Impressive.
It is better off-road
This is the crossover MINI, so BMW’s made the Countryman more able off-road (well, it is derived from the BMW X1, after all…). The all-wheel drive system, called ALL4, is faster-acting and is electronically linked to the stability control system. Great for plugging through streams… but also perfect for dealing with adverse weather conditions. Take that, UK winter.
It even has an off-road gadget
The Countryman has an off-road gimmick called MINI Country Timer. This monitors what it’s driving over and detects slopes, uneven surfaces, even snow-covered tracks. When things start to get challenging, it flashes up what sort of terrain is below on the central display. The more adverse the surface, the more the MINI icon turns from a ‘street cruiser’ into a MINI monster truck ‘cliff champ’. Yes, really.
It costs from £22,465 and is on sale in the UK now
Prices for the new MINI Countryman start at £22,465: that’s for a 136hp Cooper Countryman petrol. Expect a cheaper One Countryman in time. At launch, there’s also a 150hp Cooper D (from £24,425), a 192hp Cooper S (from £24,710) and a 190hp Cooper SD (from £26,350). You can get ALL4 versions of all of them, plus both manuals and automatics. It’s on sale right now and first deliveries are in February 2017.