Mini Countryman Hatchback Review

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Mini Countryman Hatchback Quick Review

7.4
This is the score given by Car & Driving
  • 8 Depreciation
  • 8 Economy
  • 8 Build
  • 8 Handling
  • 7 Insurance
  • 7 Equipment
  • 7 Value
  • 7 Styling
  • 7 Space
  • 7 Comfort
  • 7 Performance

Short Review

The second generation MINI Countryman is the biggest and most versatile model to be launched in the brand's 57-year history. With its larger external dimensions and increases in space throughout the cabin and luggage area, it offers a more credible premium alternative to Qashqai-sized family Crossover segment rivals. There's a bit of interior innovation - and the option of Plug-in hybrid tech too.

Mini Countryman Hatchback LeaseFetcher Review

Verdict

If you fancy a quirky family car with bags of customisation, quality interiors and a great driving experience, the MINI Countryman could be the choice for you. The interiors offer more space than a standard MINI.

As MINI's biggest car, the Countryman really ups the practicality with a vastly increased boot and even all-wheel drive.

The suspension is firm and sporty but which keeps the larger MINI planted through the tightest corners.

Oh, and if you're ecologically minded, there's also a hybrid option available!

Style

The MINI Countryman maintains its external design and style from the previous version. The track style grille is flanked by two huge air buckets, which give the Countryman a slightly unexpected sporty vibe. A couple of the trims lean into this look even more!

With the optional ALL4 pack, you can get black, high gloss bumper elements, silver underbody protection sills and roof rails with silver side sills. Whether you fancy the rail spoke or roulette, you’ve got quite a choice of wheel designs. The side view mirrors and caps are customisable, as is the roof.  

The hybrid Countryman even comes with side scuttles that house a charging socket (lighting up when fully powered) and sports a dashing ‘S’ badge in yellow in the front grille.

Interior

The Countryman more than lives up to MINI’s reputation for quality interiors.

The MINI Connected Service — itself a modified version of the BMW iDrive system — connects the infotainment system with a host of handy apps. The MINI Concierge service is a particular highlight, it gives you travel updates, route information and tips when you’re on the move.

The circular 6.5-inch infotainment screen sits in the centre of the dash and blends in pretty well with the sleek style of the rest of the car. If that isn’t big enough for you, you’ve also got the option of an 8.8-inch touchscreen.

For the safety conscious among you, the Intelligent Emergency Call service in the touchscreen takes some of the stress out of reporting accidents, providing your location to emergency services and giving them an indication of severity before they arrive.

The physical interior manages to capture that authentic MINI style that a lot of people go bananas over. It feels very high-tech but, at the same time, strangely organic. Metallic decorative rings around key features at the front of the cabin blend well with the sculpted plastic of the dash and make the Countryman almost feel like a living thing.

In terms of interior colours, you’ve got a fair few options to choose from, which is perfect if you're the type of person who likes to customise your car.

Driving

There are four trims available for the Countryman: Cooper, Cooper S, Cooper SE and John Cooper Works.

With the standard Cooper, you’ve got a decent 1.5-litre petrol engine and 2.0-litre diesel engine on offer. The Cooper S provides more power, with a 2.0-litre petrol engine and a 2.0-litre diesel engine. The Cooper SE is a plug-in hybrid and comes with a 1.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid.

Handily, the majority of the engines can be linked to a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox. You can also choose between standard two-wheel or all-wheel drive. The Cooper SE is only available with an automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

The tuning of the engines is different in various models which leading to different power capacities and engine torque, so do your research and choose wisely.

The dash provides a switch to select between Sport and Green modes, which modify the drive performance between fast acceleration and fuel economy priorities.

Fuel economy is around 50 mpg but expect that to decrease for the 2.0-litre engines and increase for the plug-in hybrid.

The plug-in hybrid Cooper SE trim offers an Auto EDrive mode that combines the power of the electric motor and the petrol engine to produce optimal driving power. The electric motor drives the rear wheels while the petrol engine powers the front wheels. It also provides a Max and Save battery modes that let you drive completely on battery or petrol engine respectively.

The all wheel drive allows dynamic distribution of power between the front and rear axles to improve driving behaviour in varied road conditions. That means that the Countryman is super fun to drive with excellent handling, precise cornering and sharp steering. It also has progressive steering which reduces the extent of steering rotations to turn the front wheels– turning corners in the Countryman is relatively easy.  

I think the driving position is excellent in terms of seat height and other adjustments but the A pillar does create a blind spot. The rear boot window wiper is not long enough and so is only able to clear a small section of the wide back windscreen.

Sadly, the Countryman continues MINI's tradition of wind and road noise. It's fairly loud and is just something you'll have to live with.

Because the Countryman is heavier than other MINIs, they've stiffened up the suspension, which leads to a fairly uncomfortable ride over unsealed or rough roads. There is variable damper control available as an option but it doesn’t necessarily give you a completely smooth ride.

Practicality

As the biggest version of a small car, the Countryman walks an tricky line between being practicality and becoming a MAXI. I think they've done a good job, though. The Countryman is big and practical but it's still quintessentially MINI.

In the front, there is good storage space in the door bins, the centre console has a tray to hold phones with USB charging and there are two cup holders and a small space under the centre console for additional items. The front seats have ample adjustment options for height, length, thigh and lumbar support. Optional electric front seats are available. The steering offers telescopic and tilt adjustment options to find the optimal driving position.

Compared to other MINIs, rear leg room is improved and it's now reasonably comfortable to sit back there for longer journeys.

While it's miles bigger than the original, the MINI hatchback is still a fairly small car by modern standards. You're looking at just 221 litres of space in the boot, which is quite a bit less than a Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo.

So, how does the Countryman do?

With the seats up, you're looking at 450 litres, which is even more than some crossovers like the Nissan Qashqai! Drop the rear seats down — the rear seats will fold 40/20/40 — and you're looking at 1,309 litres!

Fun fact, the boot door can be opened and closed by touching the rear sill with your foot, which is always handy when you're carrying a bunch of shopping.

ISO anchor points are clearly marked and it is easier to fit child seats in the Countryman compared to other MINIs due to additional room.

The hybrid can be plugged in to charge in two to three hours and offers an electric range of up to 40 km before the petrol engine kicks, making it well suited to urban driving.

Specification

You’ve got a lot of different options to choose from when it comes to making the Countryman Cooper, Cooper S, Cooper SE and John Cooper Works fit your needs.

The intuitive MINI Connected service comes as standard (with a huge range of features, like online search and the MINI Concierge service), as does the sat nav, parking sensors and electronic brake with push button activation.

Customisation options include colour options for interiors, wheel design, bonnet stripes, side view mirror caps and varied interior colour schemes for armrests.

An optional MINI head-up display can be installed on the dashboard to provide navigation and other driving details.

MINI's parking assist helps you automatically park in tight spots with limited driver input and the rear view camera helps you check blind spots.

An optional MINI driving assistant provides camera-based active cruise control that slows down the vehicle in face of obstacles and a pedestrian warning system and collision mitigation system that will activate brakes upon detection of collision danger. The city collision mitigation system responds to changes in traffic speed without driver intervention.

An interior light package is available as part of the MINI excitement pack to manage the mood inside the vehicle.

All in, the MINI Countryman offers a good blend of practicality and style with a good peppering of tech for good measure.

Mini Countryman Hatchback Gallery

Euro NCAP Safety Rating

  • NCAP Adult Occupant Protection % 84%
  • NCAP Child Occupant Protection % 83%
  • NCAP Pedestrian Protection % 63%
  • NCAP Safety Assist % 71%

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View the available trims for the Mini Countryman Hatchback starting from £178.88 per month

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