Standing so tall and wide, it’s no shock to learn that the Countryman is for folks who need space, practicality and utility.
To that end, getting in and out is easy, there’s heaps of room up front, sufficient space for adults in the rear, a reasonably large cargo area, deep windows and fairly good vision all-round. The front seats envelope you in a secure and cosy way, ventilation is adequate, storage is thoughtfully provided and – once you learn the multimedia system – operating the vehicle is child’s play. All basics ticked.
The playful (some might say twee) elements of previous BMW-era Minis isn’t as pronounced in the F60, and with the LCI ushering in a 5.5-inch digital cluster, it’s even less cartoonish. Especially with the piano black inserts and anthracite trim. Much more grown up.
But don't fret, purists. The big circular central screen and toggle switches live on, though there’s some slick leather upholstery, brushed metal detailing and a real sense of solidity to up the quality ante.
Some of the graphics in the BMW iDrive-based multimedia system may seem somewhat convoluted, but there is a vast amount of functionality, with plenty of vehicle operations, trip data, map views and audio options to configure and personalise.
The back seat is better than we anticipated for comfort, support and adjustability, since the back 40:20:40 bench splits, folds and slides for added versatility. Beyond that, the 450-litre (VDA) bi-level boot layout makes for a deceptively big cargo area, and it’s all beautifully presented.
Downsides? Those upright windscreen pillars and bulky exterior mirrors do block vision in roundabouts; the sunroof’s blind doesn’t block out enough sun and heat on warm days, never mind hot ones; and while you can turn off the ambient colours at night, their garishness is a bit much and lingers on in the memory.