Home from home in a MINI Autohome

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The Autohome, weird as it looks, is the perfect size for two adults and it is easy to put up and take down.

Let’s be honest. A MINI is a cool car, but stacking a roof tent in a streamlined fibreglass box on top isn’t. It looks out of place.

That is what happens when you fit the aftermarket Autohome roof tent on top of the Countryman, the biggest MINI out there.

Let’s focus less on the aesthetic appeal and hefty price tag it will inevitably carry – it is a MINI after all – and more on the functionality of the concept, which was designed by the Italian rooftop tent specialists in conjunction with the MINI Design Team.

For the tent to bear the official MINI logo, the quality and finish match the awesomeness of the Countryman.

It is ridiculously easy to open as it merely involves opening three brackets for the four gas cylinders to automatic raise the whole structure and click into place.

The inside comes complete with a comfy built-in mattress, two pillows, a step ladder and even a stowage compartment to store the step ladder for the night.

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Though you might have your doubts, the mattress is actually quite big at 2.1m long and 1.3m wide, perfect for two adults.

There’s a door on either side and a window at the front and the back, all standard with mosquito nets, while a battery-operated LED light also provides ample light at night.

The tent also closes easily as you just have to pull down the roof by its latches on either side and secure the fittings in their brackets.

While the concept isn’t really made with family camping trips in mind, young couples, or older couples young enough at heart, could really take a liking to it.

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With the Countryman available in all-wheel drive in the John Coopers Works version, you could take it off the beaten track and sleep under the stars, providing you have packed sandwiches and aren’t scared of more natural ablution facilities.

The tent is situated high enough for you not to worry about wild animals sniffing your bed – or licking your ear – at midnight. That is if you stowed the ladder inside, of course.

The Autohome would also be a great option if you decided to attend a gathering like Oppikoppi or any other festival, or even a friend or relative’s house that is already overbooked for Christmas where food and ablutions are plentiful and you merely require a bed.

With the Countryman sporting a generously sized boot, tossing in a suitcase or two and a few bags for your trip also isn’t an issue.

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If you require anything more than that, it might be a dead giveaway you are not the outdoorsy person your Autohome stands for.

And removing the Autohome from the roof racks when you get back home doesn’t seem like rocket science, providing you have space to store the fibreglass unit to keep in pristine condition for your next road trip. So while there is absolutely nothing wrong with the concept and it’s functionality.

The price, however, is not all that practical. Listed at a tad over €3 000 online – unfortunately I could not get the local price as all of three my phone calls to local MINI dealerships had car and parts sales people scratching their heads – you could do a lot better tent-wise in the South African camping culture.

I’m talking a trailer fitted with not only a roof tent, but a big extra chunk of canvas as well as some camping furniture, kitchen/braai equipment and huge lot of extra packing space thrown into the mix.

And if camping isn’t really your thing, that budget will last you a long time sleeping on goose down pillows in comfy hotels. Back to the aesthetic side of dumping a gigantic box on top of a MINI.

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In my personal capacity during the odd camping trip, I haven’t really noticed MINIs between the hordes of double cabs, caravans and tents plucked from overloaded SUVs around our country’s most popular campsites.

If you own a MINI Countryman and want to give this camping thing a good bash in addition to your odd free-spirited breakaway, it will be your choice whether you want to fork out a serious heap of cash for the Autohome or go for the more practical trailer rooftent option.

But on second thought, a Countryman pulling a large trailer into a camping hot spot might actually look sillier even than one fitted with the Autohome…

Likes 

  • Very easy operation
  • Spacious, comfortable bed

Dislikes 

  • Monstrosity on top not good for your street cred
  • Very niche concept

Verdict 

The Autohome can be great fun if you don’t mind the hefty pricetag

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