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Mini Countryman 2019 review: Cooper S

It’s a good family car if you really love the Mini but want something bigger to fit the family in.

The Mini Countryman is an interesting beast, isn’t it? It’s a Mini, but not mini at all. In fact, it’s a five-seater SUV, for those who love the unique styling of a MIni but want more space to fit the family.

It still looks like a Mini, just an oversized one, and is in competition with cars like the Mercedes GLA, Audi Q3 and BMW X1.

I was driving the Mini Countryman Cooper S, which is in the middle of the range and retails for $48,900 before on road costs.

How does it work with a real family? I drove it with my gang of four over seven days to find out.

What does it look like?

It has all the signature styling of a Mini - the racing stripe, the two-tone roof, the circular lights and fun exterior. It’s bigger, obviously, but hardly looks bigger from the outside. It’s still cute and stylish, though kind of bloated. But it works.

  • It still looks like a Mini, just an oversized one. It still looks like a Mini, just an oversized one.
  • It has all the signature styling of a Mini including the racing stripe. It has all the signature styling of a Mini including the racing stripe.
  • It’s bigger but hardly looks bigger from the outside. It’s bigger but hardly looks bigger from the outside.
  •  It’s still cute and stylish, though kind of bloated. It’s still cute and stylish, though kind of bloated.

Inside, too, is designed with all the features you’d expect from a Mini. Everything from the circular frame around the touchscreen, which lights up like a rainbow (and amused the children), to the very cool and tactile start-stop button and the circular door handles which feel as great to open as they are to look at.

There are a few things which aren’t exactly the same, and I wish they were - rounded rectangular air vents instead of circular - but that’s a tiny thing on an otherwise well-designed car.

In the Countryman Cooper S you’ll get leather seats with a lovely suede trim, a leather steering wheel and gearshift, plus the old school speedometer is supported by a head-up display in the windscreen which shows your speed in comparison to the speed limit.

My car also had a large sunroof optioned in, which really lets in the light through the whole car.

How spacious is it?

The front was great, my taller husband and I had enough leg and head space to keep us happy. We had this car over the Easter long weekend so we spent a lot of time in the car, driving to the Sydney Easter Show and all around visiting various family, and there was not one word of complaint - that’s a good thing.

  • The front was great, with enough leg and head space to keep me happy. The front was great, with enough leg and head space to keep me happy.
  • There was loads of space in the back, I think taller adults and teenagers will fit fine. There was loads of space in the back, I think taller adults and teenagers will fit fine.

In the back my two girls, aged five and seven, had loads of space, and I too had enough space, at 161cm there was lots of room to spare between my knees and the seat in front so I think taller adults and teenagers will fit fine.

You can also move the second row forward and backward depending on where you need the space - the boot or the rear seats.

Reverse-facing baby seats will fit behind the passenger seat, and you can fit a third seat in the middle of the car, but it is a tight fit and doing seat belts up when they’re this close together is doable, but can be a pain.

And there’s enough space in the boot for a family. At 450 litres it’s bigger than the Mercedes GLA, about the same as the Audi Q3 but smaller than the BMW X1.

The rear seats are angled backwards so fitting in boxes/suitcases gets tricky the higher you need to stack them, but then you can move the back row forward to give yourself more room in the boot. It fits the CarsGuide pram with no trouble.

How does it drive?

I tested the Mini Cooper hatch a few weeks ago and found it such a fun car to drive, I loved it.

The Countryman Cooper S is almost as much fun - for a bigger car Mini has really worked on keeping the same feeling while driving.

It has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine which gets up hills really quickly and takes off fast from a starting position.

It has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine which gets up hills really quickly. It has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine which gets up hills really quickly.

It hugs the corners nicely, handles really well and the steering is great. The car is agile so you can weave in and out of traffic if you need to.

It felt great to drive and made me feel confident whether in the city or out on the highways.

Parking is good because even though it’s an SUV and you’re higher off the ground, it’s not very long so you can fit easily into parks.

There’s a clear, high-definition reverse parking camera and it also has park assist, which means it will parallel park itself if you get really stuck.

How easy is it to drive every day?

There are some cool features on the Mini Countryman Cooper S: the boot opens and closes with a touch of the button on the keys. Plus, the rear seats move backward and forward so you can customise your space.

The boot opens and closes with a touch of the button on the keys. The boot opens and closes with a touch of the button on the keys.

There are two cupholders in the front, a spot to throw keys and a phone, bottle holders in each of the doors, a wireless phone charger (if your phone is compatible) and a centre storage unit.

Rear passengers get two cupholders in the centre armrest, pockets on the back of the front doors and their own air vents, which my girls are always happy about.

How safe is it?

You’ll get six airbags, plus a bunch of advanced safety equipment comes standard, like auto emergency braking (with pedestrian detection) and adaptive cruise control.

There are also forward collision warnings and front and rear parking sensors.  

There are two ISOFIX points and three top tether points for kids car seats, and the Countryman scored a maximum five ANCAP stars when it was tested in 2017.

What’s the Tech like?

If you’re an Apple fan, there is Apple CarPlay but no Android Auto, which is a bit of a miss for Android users.

There is Apple CarPlay but no Android Auto, which is a bit of a miss for Android users. There is Apple CarPlay but no Android Auto, which is a bit of a miss for Android users.

Mini does have its own multimedia system however with sat nav and real time traffic information and you can connect via Bluetooth to stream music and podcasts and make calls.

The speakers sound good in the Mini, turn the volume up.

How much does it cost to own?

The Mini Countryman Cooper S costs $48,900, before any on-road costs.

Fuel consumption is a claimed 6.5L/100km which is pretty good for a car with this engine.

It’s covered by Mini’s three year/unlimited km warranty which is pretty basic these days.


The Wrap

I had a fun week driving the Mini Countryman Cooper S. It’s a good family car if you really love the Mini but want something bigger to fit the family in. The price does push it into a competitive category with some other really great cars, however.

The Mini Countryman Cooper S drives beautifully, had enough space for all of us, a big enough boot and all the safety you’d be after for a family.

I gave it a family rating of 7.5 out of 10. My kids gave it an eight, they love this styling.

Likes

Design
Fast, smooth drive
Interesting styling

Dislikes

Sub-par warranty cover
No Android Auto

Scores

Nedahl:

3.8

The Kids:

4

$48,900

Based on new car retail price

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