First Drive: Mini Countryman


When BMW launched its first attempt at a Countryman in 2011, it was a great success, becoming Mini's second-best selling model after the hatch.

But although the new Countryman looks fairly similar to the previous model, there are quite a few differences. AOL Cars went to find out if it's an improvement or not.

What is it?

The new Countryman is based on BMW's 'UKL' platform, which underpins the 2 Series Active Tourer and X1. Mini already uses it on the newest Clubman.

This new chassis means the Countryman is 20cm longer and 3cm wider than its predecessor. As a result, the crossover finds itself in the C-segment – Britain's most competitive car market sector.

What's under the bonnet?

The car we tested was fitted with a 2.0-litre petrol engine, producing 192bhp. With the aid of the eight-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox and All4 four-wheel drive, the Countryman does 0-60mph in seven seconds. However, it doesn't feel anywhere near as quick as this, even in sport mode.

The disappointment continues with the fuel economy. Mini cites 44mpg, but we didn't achieve over 30mpg, despite having Green mode activated as often as possible.

What's the spec like?

Prices start at a reasonable £22,465, but you'll have to fork out an extra £1,600 if you want the automatic gearbox and the All4 four-wheel-drive system.

When you take this, other optional extras and the fact the Cooper S will achieve less than 44mpg in the real world into account, the Countryman starts to look quite expensive.

However, if you select a more frugal model, the value for money should be satisfactory, considering all levels of trim come with the Mini Connected infotainment system, satellite navigation and Mini Visual Boost Radio.

Mini Countryman

Mini Countryman

Any rivals?

Rivals for the Countryman include its fellow Germans, the Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. There's also the Japanese entry, the highly regarded Nissan Qashqai. All of these cars could be seen as more grown up options than the Mini, but arguably less fun.

What's it like to drive?

The Countryman handles well on country roads, no matter what drive mode you put it in.

Despite the substantial size increase compared to the previous Countryman, it still doesn't feel like a big car in most environments. The steering is balanced and communicates fairly well.

The car isn't bad on the motorway, but there's quite a lot of road noise at high speeds.

AOL Cars Verdict

Mini's Countryman is bigger than before and that puts it into some hard-fought territory, but it's a talented car that has enough appeal to pull it off.

It's enough fun to drive to deserve the Mini badge, but adds in some more genuine family friendly abilities than its predecessor thanks to the new, larger platform.

The Knowledge

Power (bhp): 192bhp
Torque (Nm): 280Nm
Max speed (mph): 138mph
0-60mph: 7.0 seconds
MPG: 44.1mpg
Emissions (g/km): 150g/km
Price: £28,025

Written by Andrew Evans