Mini Countryman VS Ford Everest
- More mature looks
- Safety overhaul
- Still fun to drive
- Ride can feel overly firm on standard suspension
- No Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- Inevitable price hikes
- All-round package
- Ride and handling
- Safety tech
- No AEB on Ambiente (coming in 2019)
- No reach-adjustment on steering wheel
Andrew Chesterton road tests and reviews the new Mini Countryman Cooper, Cooper D, Cooper S and Cooper SD All4 with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch in Canberra.
Mini's new Countryman is officially the least mini Mini ever made. So un-Mini, in fact, it now stretches over 4 metres in length for the first time ever. It's also taller and wider than the car it replaces, making it the biggest Mini ever produced by the brand.
But there's method to Mini's super-sizing madness, with the brand desperate to make sure its new Countryman isn't just big, but is also a big deal for the first time in its brief history.
The outgoing model makes up about 15 per cent of Mini's sales in Australia - despite playing in the most popular segment - and the brand's bosses reckon they know the problem. Internal surveys reveal more than 30 per cent of people who were considering a Countryman, but ended up buying something else, did so because it was too small and impractical to be used as a family car.
And so it's grown in every direction. Its now 20cm longer, 1.5cm taller and 3.3cm wider, and it sits on a 7.5cm longer wheelbase. And while those numbers might not sound massive, it makes a difference in the cabin, and adds an extra 100 litres of boot space.
So is a maximised Mini a good thing?
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
Since we first published this story on August 24, 2018, there have been some changes to the Ford Everest range, including the entry-level Everest Ambiente (RWD and 4WD variants) getting advanced driver-assist safety systems, including autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, at no extra cost.
The Ambiente also now gets lane-keep assist with driver alert, traffic sign recognition and automatic high beams. That's all in addition to the line-up's reversing camera, rear parking sensors, roll-over mitigation, trailer sway control and more.
The 4WD Ambiente also gets hill descent control, hill launch assist and an electronically locking rear differential.
In other Everest news, the top-shelf 2.0-litre twin-turbo Everest Titanium 4WD has dropped in price to $72,290 so it now avoids the luxury car tax.
Changes are rumored to be coming soon for the Ford Ranger range – perhaps towards the end of 2019 – and those changes may also materialise in the next update of the Everest line-up.
Stay tuned for more Ford Everest news.
As originally published August 24, 2018:
Change is good but there will always be some who become enraged at the mere hint of it. Case in point: those who strongly dislike 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel engines.
In February this year, when just such an engine was revealed as the powerplant of choice for Ford’s high-performance ute, the Ranger Raptor, CarsGuide comments, online chat rooms and beer gardens everywhere echoed with acid-tongued complaint and hearty objections that included such pearls of wisdom as “The only good two litres are milk and orange juice”.
Well, it looks like some of us have a bitter pill to swallow because that 2.0-litre engine is now in the new, refreshed MY19 Everest, Ford’s large SUV wagon, as well – and it’s here to stay. But don’t fret because the 3.2-litre five-cylinder engine remains in the Everest ranks.
In other good news, the 2019 Everest has AEB.
Any bad news? Maybe. Read on.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
Bigger is better for Mini's Countryman. More space, more technology and with a more mature styling treatment, the Countryman finally offers the right ingredients to appear on family shopping lists.
2017 Mini Countryman range specifications
Price: From $39,900
Fuel consumption: 6.0L/100km (Cooper), 4.8L/100km (Cooper D) 6.5L/100km (Cooper S), 5.2L/100km (Cooper SD)
Tank: 51 litres
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited
Service Interval: Condition based
Engine: 1.5-litre petrol, 100kW/220Nm, 2.0-litre diesel, 110kW/330Nm, 2.0-litre petrol, 141kW/280Nm, 2.0-litre diesel, 140kW/400Nm.
Transmission: 6-sp auto/8-spd auto
Spare: Run flats
Turning circle: 11.4m diameter
Dimensions: 4,299mm (L), 1,822mm (W), 1,557mm (H)
Would you prefer a Countryman to an X1 or a Q2? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Originally built off the Ranger platform, the Everest has always been overshadowed by its overachieving ute stablemate. But now, with the introduction of AEB and some up-speccing to its Everest line-up, Ford has ensured its large SUV wagon is still a strong contender in the race for top honours in the market.
The line-up's volume seller is the Trend and that's still a pretty good sweet spot for the range.
Most of us don’t want a big, shouty 4WD, but we do expect a lot in our new vehicles: we want a quiet, refined family-friendly SUV that drives well, has plenty of safety tech, car-like ride and handling, and good fuel consumption. In its Everest, Ford has come pretty close to producing one of the best around. If only the Titanium's price-tag wasn't so high.
Is the Everest's 2.0-litre twin-turbo the way of the future or a misstep? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
Like an old-school Mini that's been stung by something flying and horrible, the Countryman has swollen in every direction, with Mini also smoothing out some of the design quirks of the outgoing model.
A redesigned grille and bonnet give the front end a calmer, more mature look, while the higher roof line and the fact the 18-inch alloy wheels have been positioned at the furthest corners of the car make the Countryman seem bigger but more well-proportioned than the car it replaces.
Inside, there's a half-premium, half-techy air to the cabin. All models get well-bolstered, leather-trim seats, a meaty steering wheel and some genuinely cool touchpoints including the bright-red switch that fires up the engine. The dash is still dominated by a huge and light-ringed (part of a more extensive illumination set up that also shines ambient lighting in the footwell) circular display that houses the multimedia screen, while the air-vents have now been placed vertically.
There's a new-found maturity to the cabin. Nicer materials, less in-your-face dials and a genuine sense of premium. The cabin lighting is hit and miss though, but the little Mini dial that lights up on the sidewalk as you approach and unlock the car will surely put a smile on some owner's faces.
Nothing much to report here. The Everest has always had substantial presence and nothing has changed in that respect; it’s a good-looking unit.
Among the styling tweaks are a new grille design, revised bumper and fascia design, halogen projector headlights with halogen daytime-running lights, a laminated acoustic windscreen, a 10-speaker audio system, as well as an 'Ebony' interior colour scheme with contrast stitching and chrome highlights.
If there’s any potential strife to the interior look and feel here, it may be that it’s too neat and tidy – too plain – and in danger of becoming a bit dated.
The Titanium has new 20-inch split-spoke alloy wheels.
Growth is good for Countryman buyers, with more room for passengers and luggage. Shoulder room and leg room have both grown (albeit by about 5cm), and the interior never feels cramped no matter whether you're sitting in the front or the back.
Boot space has increased, too, growing from 350 litres to 450 litres with the 40:20:40 rear seat in place, and from 1,170 to 1,390 when it is folded flat.
Standard fit includes two cup holders for front seat passengers, plus room in the doors for bottles, but both the S and SD models also get a pull-down divider in the rear seat that houses another two. There's two ISOFIX attachment points, one in each window seat in the back.
Inside is nice and roomy. It’s also well blended together; chrome, leather accents, as well as clear, easy-to-read instrument displays and colourful Sync3 screen. Nice, small touches, such as the illuminated blue edging around USB ports, add to the cabin’s premium feel.
The front seats are very comfortable and electrically adjustable; the third row can be deployed or stowed away by using buttons on the right-hand rear interior wall of the cargo area.
Those in the front are well catered for with access to two 12-volt sockets, and two USB ports.
Storage spaces include glovebox, two cup holders and a deep bin between driver and front passenger, and bottle holders in each door.
Second-row passengers get a pair of pop-out cupholders in the arm-rest, and can control aircon temp and fan speed, as well as open or close air vents, and use a 230-volt or 12-volt socket from their seat.
There are two ISOFIX anchor points in the second row and the cargo area has bag hooks each side, as well as luggage tie-down points on the floor.
Price and features
The bad news first: there's pricing pain right across the streamlined Countryman line-up, with the like-for-like cost of entry into an automatic model climbing by $3,400, and the cheaper still manual option banished from the line up altogether.
The range now kicks off with the entry-level Cooper, now starting from $39,900, sitting below the Cooper D at $43,900. The first of the fun-flavoured variants arrives next, the $46,500 Cooper S, with the 2017 line-up topping out with the $51,500 Cooper SD (Sport Diesel) All4 - the only model to get all-wheel drive.
You do get a heap more kit for your money, though, even if some of the items really should have been included on the outgoing model, too. You get a reversing camera for the first time, for example, but you'll also find front and rear parking sensors, an auto-parking system, cruise control, 18-inch alloys and a powered boot you can open by waving your foot under the rear bumper.
Elsewhere, expect leather-trimmed seats, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, a 6.5-inch screen (still not a touchscreen, but you can option one) paired with a six-speaker stereo and an admittedly cool light system that illuminates the Mini logo on the footpath when you unlock the car.
But the big news is the standard safety equipment that makes an appearance even on the entry-level Cooper. But more on that under our Safety heading.
Spring for the Cooper D and you'll find the same kit, but add two gears to your automatic gearbox, now an eight-speed. The Cooper S adds a sports transmission, a rear centre armrest, LED headlights and the steering wheel from the John Cooper Works models. You also get a drive-mode selector, but adjustable dampers are a cost option. The SD model gets the same as the S, only with all-wheel drive.
The Everest range remains a three-model line-up: entry-level Ambiente, mid-spec and volume seller Trend, and top-spec Titanium.
One of the other more notable new features in the range is 'Inter-Urban Autonomous Emergency Braking' (AEB) with 'Pedestrian Detection' and 'Vehicle Detection', which is now standard across the Trend and Titanium; it will become standard on Ambiente in 2019.
Keyless entry and push-button start are now standard across the range, and Trend and Titanium get Ford’s hands-free power tailgate.
Also new to the Trend are leather-accented seat trim, eight-way power driver's seat and a leather-trimmed gear shifter.
All prices to follow exclude on-road costs.
Everest Ambiente pricing is: RWD 3.2L (five seats) $49,190; 3.2L RWD (seven seats) $50,190; 3.2L 4WD (five seats) $54,190; and Ambiente 4WD 3.2L (seven seats) $55,190.
Everest Trend pricing is: RWD Bi-Turbo $56,190; 4WD 3.2L $59,990; and 4WD Bi-Turbo $61,190.
The Ford Everest Titanium is only available as a 4WD with the twin-turbo engine and 10-speed auto at a cost of $73,990, including luxury car tax. We spent the lion’s share of our time at the launch in a Titanium so we’ll focus on that variant.
The new exterior prestige paint is Diffused Silver for $780.
The 2019 Everest is due in showrooms this month.
Engine & trans
Things kick off with a less-than-exciting three-cylinder engine housed within the entry-level Cooper. The 1.5-litre power plant produces 100kW at 4,400rpm and 220Nm from 1,400rpm, fed through a six-speed automatic before being sent to the front wheels. It'll squeeze a 9.6sec zero-to-100km/h sprint out of the cheapest Countryman.
Step up to the Cooper D and you'll find a 2.0-litre diesel under the bonnet producing 110kW at 4,000Nm and 330Nm from 1,750rpm. It will reduce the sprint time to 8.8secs, using the first of the eight-speed automatics in the Countryman line up.
The sporty Cooper S squeezes 141kW at 5,000rpm and 280Nm from 1,350rpm from its 2.0-litre petrol engine, channeled to the front wheels via an eight-speed sports automatic, which is enough to produce a 7.4sec sprint to 100km/h.
Finally, the Cooper SD All4 gets a 2.0-litre diesel donk producing 140kW at 4,000rpm and an impressive 400Nm from 1,750rpm, fed to all four wheels through an eight-speed sports automatic. The 100km/h sprint takes an identical 7.4 seconds, however.
The new-generation twin-turbo engine – 157kW at 3750rpm and 500Nm from 1750rpm-2000rpm – is paired with a 10-speed torque-converter automatic transmission, the same combination as used in Ford’s high-performance models, Mustang and Raptor.
But this working partnership is a better match here, in the Everest, than it is in the Raptor, in terms of smooth delivery of power and torque at low and high speeds, as well as doing everything in an unfussed manner – low-key but still effective.
As mentioned, the previous-gen 3.2-litre 143kW/470Nm five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine and six-speed auto is still offered in Ambiente and Trend, ensuring those who prefer their engines bigger are catered for.
The Titanium has full-time 4WD with low-range gearing ('4x4 Low') and electronic diff lock, as well as a 'Terrain Management System' with four driving modes (Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Sand and Rock) to suit different terrain.
The entry-level Cooper will sip a claimed/combined 6.0 litres per hundred kilometres and produce 138g per kilometre of C02. The Cooper D is the most miserly of the Countryman family, returning 4.8 litres per hundred kilometres on the claimed/combined cycle, and will produce a 126g per kilometre of CO2.
The sportier models will predictably cost you more at the pump, with the Cooper S drinking 6.5 litres per hundred kilometres (claimed/combined) and emitting 149 grams of CO2 per kilometre, while the Cooper SD need 5.2 litres on the same cycle, while emitting 138 grams of C02 per kilometres.
Best-of-the-bunch 2.0-litre fuel consumption is listed as 6.9L/100km (combined) in the Trend RWD, and 7.1L/100km (combined) in the 4WD. We noted an average of 9.8L/100km on the dash but there may have been some heavy right foot involved in prompting that figure.
The Everest has an 80-litre fuel tank.
There's s reason F1 cars don't offer much boot space, and that's because bigger is rarely better in the slippery world of aerodynamics and performance. So the model we were most excited about driving - the overgrown Cooper S - was also the one we approached with the most trepidation.
Happily, it still feels the most urgent of the current crop (a JCW version is still en route) with a zero-to-100km/h time that doesn't set the world on fire, but equally doesn't feel anything resembling slow. The optional variable dampers ($700) make a different on rougher road surfaces, with the harsh and jarring ride of old banished in favour of something a little more smooth, but no less connected.
Equally important, though, is that its weight gain hasn't hurt it in backroad hillclimbs. While the tired old "like a go-kart" description can't be applied to something now the the genuine size of a small SUV, it still feels constantly planted to the road, with direct steering and plenty of feedback fed through the meaty steering wheel.
Step up to the range topper, the diesel-powered SD All4 and things take a turn for the weirder. On paper, the all-wheel-drive model should kill it. A mere kilowatt less power than the Cooper S, but a bucketload more torque, along with the ability to channel that power though a clever all-wheel-drive system should see it devour the sprint. But with that extra kit comes extra kilos (1530kg versus 1460kg), and so the offical time is bang-on that of the petrol-powered S.
But it never feels as quick in the real world. It lacks some of the free-revving fun of the petrol, instead choosing the next gear early in the rev range in automatic mode, and flat-out refusing to shift down a gear as you approach a corner should you take over the shifting via the manual paddles. It feel no less planted than the Cooper S, and it grips and sits beautifully on the twister stuff, but the fun factor just isn't the same.
While we didn't sample the Cooper D, we spent some time in the fun and frugal Cooper. Its three-cylinder engine offers enough power to keep you entertained in the city, but things get a little less fun out on the open road where the climb from 80km/h to 100km/h can feel eternal. The ride, too, feels rougher, with the suspension set to a sportier ride which allows harsher bumps into the cabin.
But all of that stuff will fade into obscurity when you're off the twisting roads and back in the city - and let's face it, that's where the Countryman will spend the bulk of its time. And it's here where Mini's changes make the most sense. The cabin feels light and airy, you can fit more stuff in the boot, the interior treatment is first-class and the addition of crucial driving aids will make day-to-day driving so much easier.
The Everest’s 2.0-litre is not going to get any pulses pounding with its engine note, that’s for sure, but it more than makes up for any lack of rough, gutsy charm – perceived or otherwise – by being the consummate quiet achiever. Because it is very quiet … and it achieves.
The good news is that we pushed the 2477kg Titanium pretty hard off the mark, as well as made a series of overtaking moves and clocked up a bit of open-road cruising and it just burbled along nicely. There’s a real no-fuss quality to its delivery of big torque at low revs. It certainly seems to work better in the Everest than in the Raptor, which we drove at launch a few weeks ago and the consensus there was that it was underpowered and underwhelming.
The Everest is also very quiet inside. Ford reckons the twin-turbo is “much quieter” than their 3.2-litre models due to advanced sound insulation and 'Active Noise Cancellation' which has helped to improve cabin quietness. Well, the 3.2 is pretty quiet anyway, but in the short time I’ve spent so far in the 2019 twin-turbo Everest, I have no reason not to believe them.
Its steering has that real Ford feel – light and lively but precise – and on its revised coil-spring suspension, the Titanium’s ride and handling is even smoother than before. It was firm, bordering on stiff at times, but perhaps the Titanium’s 20-inch rims on road-biased Goodyear EfficientGrip SUV tyres set at 38 psi could be blamed for some of that; 18 x 8.0-inch alloy wheels and tyres are a no-cost option on the Titanium.
We did some decent 4WDing on this launch out near Lithgow and the Everest was infrequently challenged anywhere near the limits of its off-roading capabilities.
In fact we intentionally drove our tester in Normal mode and took the ‘off’ line through sections of terrain that would have likely put some rivals in a spot of bother but, with judicious use of that 10-speed auto, especially that low first, we trucked through no problem.
The Everest’s hill descent control deserves a mention also as it’s rather smooth and effective; it holds very low speeds (registering as 0km/h on the dash), can be adjusted via buttons on the steering wheel, and was not jerky or jarring like some systems in other off-roaders can be.
When we did dial through the drive modes of the terrain management system to actually suit the surface we were driving on there was no surprise at how efficient and effective it was, as we’ve used it quite extensively before in the bush and on beach sand.
The Titanium has 227mm ground clearance. We observed a few Everests on different terrain and, especially on deep sharp-edged ruts and short steeper-angled rocky climbs its underslung full-sized spare tyre behind the rear axle can seem like it’s about to become a plow – and there's something else to watch out for.
One fellow journo pointed out that what appears to be the AdBlue tank protrudes below the bottom edge of the full-sized spare, eating into a bit of ground clearance and the Titanium’s departure angle; posing a bit of a damage risk if your 4WDing takes your Everest into particularly tricky territory.
The Everest has a towing capacity of 3100kg (braked) up from its previous 3000kg; unbraked max is 750kg. The Titanium has a payload of 623kg, a GVM of 3100kg and a 5900kg GCM.
The Countryman has gone from one of the worst in show (no reversing camera?) to one of the strongest standard safety performers. The now-standard reversing camera joins front and rear parking sensors and an automatic parking system that will take over the steering for you when manoeuvring into a tight spot.
But you'll now also find Mini's Driver Assistant Package, which includes forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and AEB, and street-sign recognition that reads the signs as you pass them and displays that info on the in-car screen. You can add to that active cruise that will come to a complete stop with traffic before accelerating to speed again, and five airbags (dual front airbags, a side airbag for the driver and two curtain airbags covering both rows of seats).
The Everest range has a five-star ANCAP rating as a result of testing conducted in 2015.
Standard safety gear across the range includes seven airbags (driver and front passenger, side front, side curtain (to third row) and driver's knee), ABS, DSC, RSC, EBD, traction control, EBA, reversing camera and rear parking sensors.
Driver-assist tech in the top-spec Titanium includes AEB, adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
It has five child-seat anchor points and two ISOFIX anchors in the second row.
The Mini Countryman is covered by a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty and requires what BMW calls "condition-based servicing", meaning your car is serviced when it needs to be, rather than after a predetermined amount of kilometres. Owners can prepay their maintenance costs for five years or 80,000km for $1,240.