Urban Sprawlers - MINI Cooper Countryman vs Jeep Renegade Limited 1.4 vs Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI S Tronic

clifford chow
23 Aug 2017
 

This is an exciting year for the car industry; we feel that the SUV and Crossover craze has hit full-on.

Audi launched something they cannot tag, Jeep builds a mini erm… Jeep, and talking about Mini, they have their new Countryman.

Mini’s second generation Countryman is bigger, better built and sits on proven BMW X1 underpinnings. Their previous car did look the part aggressive, but did lack in the quality which MINI owners would have hoped for.

The added space means very good legroom for both front and rear passengers alike. Being the most un-MINI-like of the MINIs due to its size, the company had to work hard to ensure that the all the identifiable elements which gives the car its undeniable MINI identity were in place. A good job they did, especially with the rear end, doing away with the super-sized MINI logo, and in-place, more traditional styling, with upright tail lights, flanking the license plate.

Jeep, like MINI has gone back to its roots with the Renegade. And like the British marque, is utilising a platform from its parent, in this case, the Renegade is based on the Fiat 500X. retro styling is mainly kept to the nose of the car, where the distinct seven-slot grille is flanked by two round headlamps. A raised middle section on the bonnet hints of a larger, taller longitudinal engine beneath it, but in reality, it is a mild 1.4 litre unit mounted in East-West configuration. At the rear, some playful visual cues about Jeep’s military-serving history, with Jerry Can marks on the tail lights.

On the other hand Audi had approached their ‘quirkmobile’ from a different angle. Origami-styling, with a larger-than-life front grille makes their car look wider than it really is. There is quite a bit of plastic silver trim going around. The most notable design element is the side blade on their “C” pillar, which Audi offers with some flexibility with colour choice, inclusive of a special new Quantum Grey. At the rear, tail lamps are spaced out, mirroring the front’s impression of girth.

Similar market segment, but yet so different


Hop into the MINI, and be greeted by their familiar round infotainment unit in the middle of the front fascia. Very quickly, you’d find that the switchgear, while being very pretty, is also driver-centric. Switches are a vast improvement over their previous Countryman. Turn the closure knobs on the air-conditioning vents, and you’d find that they close with the tightness of how a German car should feel. As a plus, legroom in this car is actually pretty good, especially for rear passengers, which would have suffered a little with the previous car, for the lack of knee room.

Cargo space is practical as well, with 450 litres to use, and when the 40:20:40 rear seats fold down flat, the Countryman offers up to 1,390 litres. As a plus, there is a picnic bench stowed under the boot mat, which flips out, and rests on the mouth of the boot opening, which in a practical sense, might be useful for those who may be changing their shoes after a cycling trip.

The Italian-built Jeep Renegade’s interior looks the most robust here, with plenty of chunky-hard bits of plastic, and a grab bar on the passenger side of the dash. The tiny infotainment unit in the centre of the dash is the simplest between the three cars, while there are some bits of materials used, which could be of better quality. Buttons and some switchgear can feel cheap to the touch. There is plenty of headroom in this car, and even if you are someone who is 2 metres in height, this wold be one of the few compact cars that you could fit in quite easily.

Boot space is lesser, than the MINI, at 351 litres, thanks to the very short rear overhang. Rear seats fold in 60:40 fashion, and brings utility room up to 1,297 litres. Unlike the MINI and Audi, the Renegade’s seats do not fold flat at all, placing additional limits on what can really be loaded into the cargo area, and extended into the passenger cabin.

Audi’s Q2 is one of the smaller cars that they have, which utilises their MQB platform. Stepping in, and you’d be greeted by a heavily colour accented dash, and seats. Less cluttered, and neater than the other two cars, the infotainment unit on the car is housed above the air-conditioning vents, but unlike most other Audis, the unit is non-retractable. Dash materials are heavy on quality, and like the MINI, shut lines and precision of switchgear are superbly accurate. While front occupants do have plenty of space, taller than average rear occupants might just find legroom lacking.

Cargo space in the Q2 is a decent 405 litres, and the rear seats do fold down flat 60:40 style, revealing a maximum of 1,050 litres of cargo room.

But what about the daily drive?

MINIs are associated with that Go-Kart type responsive drive, but in this case, the Countryman does feel a little too long, with plenty of suspension travel. Turning the car hard does reveal a considerable bit of understeer, and the added height does add to that side-to-side rock when it comes to multiple directional changes. Steering feel is actually good though, and the drive is still rather involving.

The 1.5 litre turbocharged engine has only three cylinders, good for 220Nm, but you would not be able to tell from within the car, unless the engine start-stop function is turned on. In “Comfort” and “Economy” drive modes, the MINI does deliver well, but somehow under “Sport” you can feel the limitations set by the suspension. The six-speed automatic transmission is decent for its power band, and the car does 0-100km/h in 9.3 seconds.

The Jeep Renegade on the other hand, does not seem to have that handling “check box” ticked when it came to the car’s design brief. Lying under bulging bonnet is a Fiat derived 1.4 turbocharged  MultiAir engine, mated to a six-speed automatic. Maximum torque they claim kicks in at about 1,750rpm, but we found that 2,000rpm seems to be the actual revolutions needed for all 230Nm to show. The transmission does work decently well with transferring power to the front wheels, and the Renegade does pretty well on cruise. But do not expect anything quick with this car. The century sprint is performed in *yawn* 11 seconds.

The short wheelbase also adds to the “Dinky-ness” of the ride quality, additionally, it does not like quick directional changes, and will not hesitate to protest with wheels squealing away. It does however handle more sharply than the larger cars in the Jeep stable, all thanks to its Fiat underpinnings.

The Q2, Audi’s “Untaggable” car does feel rather sporty. The similar to some of Audi’s sports oriented models, the steering goes to full lock in just one turn, compared to 2.5 in most cars, giving drivers very quick response to whatever the situation calls for. The 1.4 litre turbocharged engine delivers an impressive 250Nm from just 1,500rpm, and keeps to maximum torque till 3,500rpm. Zero to one-hundred on the car is an impressive enough 8.5 seconds.

Costing a premium, the Q2 does deliver with this new seven-speed S-tronic and engine combination. Featuring cylinder cancellation technology in “Eco” mode, the Q2 effectively turns into a 700cc engine on cruise mode, by shutting down cylinders two and three. In addition to that, Audi had also included “Coast” mode, allowing the car to technically go on “Neutral” when you left off the throttle on gear 7 on the highway. Meaning that you are doing 90km/h down the ECP at 1,000rpm. Additionally, the rigid MQB architecture also ensures that there is minimal chassis flex around the bends.

Our Thoughts

The Jeep is the least attractive here, but it is also the cheapest option, while the MINI and Audi are very close from a price point. Ride comfort too for the Jeep, is not close to the other two makes, and quality leaves much to be desired.

While the Audi does not do so well with its rear legroom, it does shine with all that under-bonnet technological wizardry. The MINI on the other hand does look handsome for what it is, it is a pity, that the 3 cylinder is never going to be as smooth as the Q2’s 1.4 unit.

Sure, there is no retro styling and perhaps a little less playfulness in its design, but we do love how crisp and clean the Q2 really is. While with that the huge price tag, the superb engineering, build quality and what goes under the hood, the Q2 takes top points.

Click here to read our full MINI Cooper Countryman Review
Click here to read our full Jeep Renegade Review
Click here to read our full Audi Q2 1.4 Review

Car Loan Calculator - Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI COD S

SGD 175,300 (9 Nov 2017)

Based on OMV, this car is eligible for minimum 40% down payment

Car Loan Calculator - Jeep Renegade Limited 1.4

SGD 98,000 (9 Nov 2017)

Based on OMV, this car is eligible for minimum 40% down payment

Engine

Engine Capacity 1395cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Power 150bhp @ 5000rpm
Torque 250Nm @ 1500rpm
Power to Weight 117.2 bhp per ton

Performance

Acceleration 8.5s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 212 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 18.9 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 7 -speed Auto Tiptronic
Drive Type FF
Steering Electric

Measurements

Body Type SUV
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4191 x 1794 x 1508) mm
Wheelbase 2595 mm
Turning Circle 11.1 metres
Kerb Weight 1280 kg
Boot Capacity (folded) 1050 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 60 L

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs

Engine

Engine Capacity 1368cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 9.8:1
Bore x Stroke (72 x 84)mm
Power 138bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque 230Nm @ 1750rpm

Performance

Acceleration 11s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 181 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 16.9 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 6 -speed Dual Dry Clutch
Drive Type FF
Steering Electric

Measurements

Body Type SUV
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4255 x 1805 x 1697) mm
Wheelbase 2570 mm
Turning Circle 11 metres

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs

Engine

Engine Capacity 1499cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 3
Power 136bhp @ 4400rpm
Torque 220Nm @ 1400rpm

Performance

Acceleration 9.6s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 200 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 16.7 km/L
Drag Coefficient 0.340

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 6 -speed Auto
Drive Type FF
Steering Electric

Measurements

Body Type Coupe
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4299 x 1822 x 1557) mm
Wheelbase 2670 mm
Turning Circle 11 metres
Boot Capacity 450 L
Boot Capacity (folded) 1390 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 40 L

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Ventilated Discs