A Mini is most certainly not so mini anymore, and the new Countryman I had on test is in fact the biggest Mini in the brand’s history.
It is 20cm longer than its predecessor and about 3cm wider, while its wheelbase has been extended by 7.5cm. So it doesn’t only look bigger, it is bigger. There is increased space for driver and passengers alike, as well an increase in storage volume and luggage transport versatility.
The luggage compartment volume is 450l and can be extended to 1 309l – an increase of 220l on its predecessor.
A full five-seater now with three fully-fledged seats and larger rear door openings, the Countryman is easy to get into and out of. Plus, you can go for the optional electric tailgate control that offers touchless opening in conjunction with Comfort Access.
The optional storage package comprises a variable load floor, lashing eyes and tension straps, as well as a stainless steel insert on the loading sill. One further unique option is the Picnic Bench – a flexible surface that folds out of the luggage compartment and provides seating for two people.
So the Mini Countryman offers you no real excuse when it comes to the versatility and space on offer within this premium hatch/ SUV/SAV, or however you would like to classify it. In addition to the high-quality materials and precise finish, the modern, ergonomically optimised controls all contribute to that exclusive Mini ambience.
As usual, the hallmark central instrument is integrated in the instrument panel – I would just have preferred if it had a tilt towards the driver and was not dead in the middle. Other than that quirk, I liked the interior being all modern, mixed with retro in true Mini fashion.
Normally I get the high-performance models to road test but I thought it would be fun to put the entry-level 1.5-l 100kW/ 220Nm 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol derivative, fitted with the optional six-speed automatic transmission, through its paces at Gerotek.
As expected, the road test data was never going to set the record books alight, but the Countryman was good for a 10-second 0-100km/h, a 17.3 second quarter mile, a 165km/h 1km speed and a 201km/h top speed.
The handling is mostly typical of Mini, or at least as much as it can be in a big high-riding setup that the Countryman offers.