Mini Countryman 2012 review
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Mini's compact SUV model Countryman is the biggest Mini yet - about 20 per cent bigger all over than the Clubman wagon and three door hatch.
Pricing starts from $37,700 for the front wheel drive, manual, Cooper variant.
It is a five door (the first for Mini), four or five seater available with front wheel drive or on-demand all-wheel drive (ALL4) and in Cooper and Cooper S trim.
The former runs a naturally aspirated 1.6-litre, direct injection, four cylinder petrol engine with 90kW/160Nm output and the latter, a turbo version of the same with 135kW/280Nm output. You can have the Cooper S and diesel Countryman in front or all wheel drive.
There's a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic - a conventional torque converter self-shifter. Countryman has impressive "Minimalism" green credentials and is made in the UK when it has sold out in the few months since arriving at dealers.
Mini says it's getting plenty of come back sales from earlier Mini buyers who have "grown up" and now need a more practical, family-oriented vehicle. The Countryman isn't as much of an SUV as other makes riding only slightly higher than a car and with a semi-command seating position.
The all wheel drive model does have some off road cred' as it copes easily with beach and dirt road driving. But there's no 4x4 lock up to ensure drive to both axles. You must rely on the car's electronics to decide what is the optimum set-up for any given situation - hmmmm.
The front wheel drive model is for the road only but enjoys better fuel economy and sharper performance than its all wheel drive stablemate. Countryman has plenty of clever features including a centre accessory rail to which you can fit a range of goodies like a phone bracket and food containers.
Fuel economy for the non-turbo 1.6-litre engine is as good as 6.5-litres/100km while the turbo petrol front wheel drive manual is good for 6.6. The ALL4 Cooper S turbo Countryman is 7.3. It will also come as a diesel 1.6-litre (2.0-litre for auto) in the not too distant future that should rate an impressive 4.4-litres/100km, bit more for the auto.
The rear seats fold to form a large load space. Interior styling is outstanding and centres on a large centrally mounted speedo /trip computer dial. It has easy to locate and operate ancillary switches including toggle levers from the past. The handbrake is a new design and arguably better than anything else on the market.
Room is sufficient even for rear seat passengers and ample load space is provided for a coupe of suitcases. The outside is unmistakably Mini but boofy Mini with larger head and tail lights, a bulging bonnet and black plastic wheel arch flares. The overall effect is pleasing and indefinably Mini.
Drive feel in the 1400kg Cooper S ALL4 is impressive offering strong performance from idle through to engine redline. It has plenty of kick to liven you up and impressive grip to go with it. It doesn't behave like an SUV on winding roads and feels like a luxury hatch on the freeway and around town.
Mini could have hit on the perfect compromise for an all rounder in Countryman. The higher end models are a bit pricey but Mini has always been pitched as a premium product with all that entails - style, features, finish, look and performance.
We'd have one in our garage for sure but as good as the Cooper S is, would really like to try the diesel particularly given it's incredible fuel economy.
Range and Specs
|Cooper||1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$13,000 – 15,988||2012 Mini Countryman 2012 Cooper Pricing and Specs|
|Cooper Chilli||1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$16,830 – 21,560||2012 Mini Countryman 2012 Cooper Chilli Pricing and Specs|
|Cooper D||1.6L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN||$15,840 – 20,240||2012 Mini Countryman 2012 Cooper D Pricing and Specs|
|Cooper D All4||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$18,260 – 23,100||2012 Mini Countryman 2012 Cooper D All4 Pricing and Specs|