In my opinion, Minis should, as the name suggests, be mini. Even the standard Mini, these days, is rather large; especially when you consider how minute the classic ones were. No longer is it a challenge to see just how many people can fit inside a Mini (21 is the current record for a classic Cooper), you may as well be asking how many people you could stuff inside Twickenham Stadium. They’re just far too big in my opinion.
If you were to combine somebody who has no idea that mini is a synonym for small with a sizeable amount of narcotics, then put that person on the Mini design team, the subject of today’s review would be the outcome every time. The Countryman is the biggest Mini yet, which is also the biggest problem with it.
We have to remember that, as much as they seem determined to, Mini can’t (due to their nature) make their cars too big, so why on earth would they attempt to make a car which is capable off-road? Nobody on the planet has the answer to that question, because the Countryman is as out-of-place off of tarmac as an army tank would be on it. It shares the same ground clearance problems as there are across all Minis, in that going over a sleeping policeman at speeds of over 2mph will easily remove all traces of oil from the car.
Mini is part of the BMW family who are very successful at making the best off-road cars in the world which can absolutely not go off-road. This characteristic is shared with the Countryman so, rather than selling it as a car which can survive mild mud, they ought to sell it as the Mini for groups who are too large to have a Mini, but I’m not sure how an advertiser could turn that into some sort of catchy slogan.
The 5-doors which are meant to deal with the bigger families buying the Countryman lead to a disappointingly cramped interior. The front seats are fine, but the child which caused the family to change from their Mini Cooper, will soon have outgrown the back of the Countryman too – even with the supposedly more spacious split rear seat option. Space aside, the Countryman has been adorned with a traditionally… interesting Mini interior. It’s not just a nice place to be, it’s fun aswell. On every journey, you’re bound to discover some new quirky styling feature that you’d not noticed before. I also love the giant speedometer with the screen incorporated into the middle: it’s a retro design brought up-to-date.
The exterior of the car is as unique as the vehicle’s class. You’ll definitely be noticed. I don’t think that the slightly angled headlights add a self-confident air to the car (a quote from Mini – not me), but I do like the high doors and the enlarged front grille. This vehicle is certainly more of a fashion item than a car, but that just means that Mini have done exactly what they do best. And now for the specs of a middle of the range Countryman Cooper D All4 Manual:
Max. Speed: 112mph
Acceleration: 0-62mph in 11.6 seconds
CO2 Emissions: 129g/km
Insurance Group: 16
VED Band: D
So it isn’t very fast, but for those speeds you do get good economy. It’s also not very expensive to tax or insure but you do pay a lot to buy the thing (even more if you want to have even the most meager amount of options).
At least people won’t be able to keep their eyes off of the car as they overtake – 2 Stars.