Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI 2017 review
With the Australian SUV surge showing absolutely no sign of subsiding, German brand Audi is hoping its newest Q is the A to tapping into one our fastest-growing car segments.
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My grandmother was a formidable lady, a scrappy five-foot nothing slip of a lass with a will of iron.
She owned the first Mini I had ever seen, hardly notable except that a small car in the middle of the African bush is an incongruous site.
It was beautiful. An odd mix between yellow and mustard, with a leather-like sunroof that captured the imagination of this six-year-old girl.
How she came to own Esme is an interesting tale, one that has its foundations in stubbornness and silliness and a touch of the crazy.
Now, until then, my grandmother had always been a fan of the Blue Oval, much to the consternation of my grandfather, a Toyota man to the tips of his toes.
Looking to get my grandmother a new farm car and not one to say no to a good deal, my grandfather purchased yet another sturdy Toyota bakkie (ute) and donated her Cortina to the teacher at the local Zulu farm school.
My grandmother was livid that she wasn't consulted and drove off in said bakkie promising to leave it on the edge of the neighbouring national park where the elephants could have their way with it.
When she returned at the end of the day it was sans bakkie and happily ensconced in the little Mini, waving at us through the open window, proud as punch.
I don't know how she acquired it, but the look she gave my grandfather as he opened his mouth to ask, was enough to halt any argument.
Of course it was totally impractical. And it mattered not a jot.
She drove Esme along country roads and dirt tracks, how is beyond me, a cloud of dust always heralding her arrival, often popping her head through the sunroof to chat with neighbours.
When she finally tired of it years later, it too, went to the local school teacher, probably bringing more smiles than the Cortina ever did.
|Mini Countryman 2017: Cooper D|
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
This Mini Countryman can't help but exude fun from the bottom of 'our' car's 18-inch alloys to the very top of its higher roof rails. A new hexagonal grille, LED headlights and funky tail-lights ring the exterior changes for this latest iteration, with improved ground clearance and a wider stance adding their own piece to the overall appeal.
This vibe carries to the interior as well where circle-centric design elements continue to pay homage to this firecracker's past. It is there to see most noticeably in the multimedia unit and instruments, the base of the gearshift and the door handles too, although the air vents now favour a more rectangular shape.
Opinion may be divided on the Countryman's cockpit-like buttons and dials but I've always like the sense of occasion they bring, while you can also add your own touch with customisable colours, patterns, and trim.
The raised ride height improves all-around vision and makes its easier to find a comfortable driving position. This is helped of course by the fact that the speedometer and petrol gauge moves with the steering column, negating those situations where you have to peer through the spaces between the steering wheel spokes to read the instruments.
The front seats could do with a little more bolstering for a snugger fit during spirited driving and whilst I don't mind that they are not electrically adjustable, it irks that some of the adjustment levers and dials are poorly positioned.
With a platform borrowed from the BMW X1, the new Mini Countryman is longer, taller and wider than its predecessor, and while that may not be overtly noticeable from the outside, it is hard to miss from the back seat.
The door openings are wider making it easier to get in and out and lodgings there are much improved giving passengers, even those of the adult variety, a fair bit of room to stretch out in. Clearly not limousine proportions mind, but more than enough to add credence to the manufacturer's claim that the Countryman is now a friendly family choice.
The back seat, which splits 40/20/40 for further convenience, can slide and tilt too to accommodate longer legs while rear air vents and large door pockets are also part of the comfort equation. In fact storage options around the cabin are quite sensible and include two conventional cupholders for those in the front, usable door bins and a sizeable compartment in the centre console.
The new platform has also given the Countryman a boot that has grown 100 litres (to 450 litres) which deals well with a small pram and an average weekly grocery shop at the same time. There is no spare to add bulk thanks to run-flat tyres, the smaller under floor space carrying an optional picnic table instead.
Despite its small car tag, our Mini Countryman D felt decidedly spacious and was definitely able to carry our family in relative comfort.
While my granny may not have had much use for a reversing camera, choosing to move when she wanted and leave the worrying to those scurrying out of her path, the omission of that feature in previous models, along with sensors was a sore touch point for potential buyers.
In the upgraded Countryman Cooper D ($43,900) Mini has eliminated that disadvantage here by including those features as standard, along with things like dual-zone climate control, powered tailgate, auto headlights and wipers, 6.5-inch colour multimedia screen and digital radio to name but a handful.
Our Mini Countryman D also had the 'Climate Package' which offers up panoramic electric sunroof, sun protection glazing and heated front seats for an extra $2400.
But it is the standard safety package (see below) that really reiterates value for money.
Mini has pared down the Countryman range offered here in Australia with two petrol and two diesel models. Under the hood, our Countryman Cooper D sports a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine that easily finds 110kW of power and 330Nm of grunty torque.
When it comes to fuel economy, real world figures often stray from those in glossy brochures. Mini shows off 4.8L/100km as an official combined figure for the Countryman Cooper D and we hung around the 6.0L/100km which is fairly credible given the tendency for spirited bursts.
A quick zip around in the new Countryman and it is clear that Mini has softened the edges a bit, keeping the suspension taut enough to encourage a zesty drive but allowing a little give to ensure more comfort.
It still hurries into corners but there is some accommodation for body roll and it feels better over bumps too, recovering nicely even when there is a number of consecutive irregularities.
The steering feels direct and the brakes are quick to respond which always tends to inspire confidence.
Given its size, it is unsurprising that it is a dream to manoeuvre, especially around tight city confines but the Countryman Cooper D is equally enjoyable when you push it along, showing immediate buy-in at even the slightest hint that speed is needed.
The diesel grunt and torque on offer is a willing accomplice, the Countryman rarely emerging short of breath.
It is not as zippy as the hatch, but it is fun, with or without the kids holding on in the back.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Aside from traction and stability control, you also get auto emergency braking, forward collision warning, front and rear parking sensors and active cruise control with semi-autonomous stop-start traffic mode. No blind-spot monitoring or cross-traffic alert though.
Dual frontal, side chest-protecting, side head-protecting (curtain) airbags, and an active bonnet to minimise pedestrian crash injury, are standard.
There are also ISOFIX child restraint anchor points on the two out positions on the second row seat.
|Cooper||1.5L, PULP||$30,470 – 36,740||2017 MINI COUNTRYMAN 2017 Cooper Pricing and Specs|
|Cooper||1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$27,830 – 33,550||2017 MINI COUNTRYMAN 2017 Cooper Pricing and Specs|
|Cooper||1.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$31,460 – 37,950||2017 MINI COUNTRYMAN 2017 Cooper Pricing and Specs|
|Cooper||1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$25,410 – 31,350||2017 MINI COUNTRYMAN 2017 Cooper Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||8|
“Bigger, better equipped and with an improved drive, the Mini Countryman Cooper D is definitely a step up from its predecessor. It's no Esme, mind, but is almost as much fun.”
Could the maxi-sized Mini Countryman be your next family wagon? Tell us what you think in the comments below.