MINI Cooper S Countryman Review
A Little Bit Of Countryman. A Little Bit Of Rock N Roll

Words and Photos by Clifford Chow
26 Mar 2021
 

As with the rest of the MINIs in the range, the Countryman sits on quite a short wheelbase, but with its relatively tall body, passenger room, including headroom for rear passengers is easily more-than adequate for the average adult.

Coming from a country where our jungles are largely urban, it can be quite clear why many of us would want to choose an SUV. One of the reasons really, is because the process of buying a car is quite an emotional process, and many of us have at least a bit of a sense of adventure. Not only has the SUV become quite a fashion statement. Gone are the days where function would mostly take precedence over form; and today, we are truly spoiled for choice, since the market is flooded with SUVs of different shapes and sizes.

Roads today are mostly smooth, which has allowed for manufacturers to field SUVs built more like road cars rather than being truck-like, saving on weight while vastly improving on road manners.

And wading into this lucrative soft-roading pie, is British car manufacturer MINI, with their Countryman, which incidentally is also the brand’s largest car.

The second-generation Countryman which has just gone through a middle-of-life facelift, bucks the sleeker body shape that many current-day SUVs have; the MINI instead, has chunkier styling that is more in-line with the brand’s current design language. Upping the style department, MINI has redesigned its front bumper, with vertical intakes, lending an impression of an even taller car. Large “protective” wheel arch trim and a slightly pronounced ride height, are essential elements to creating the Countryman's SUV vibe. Another thing that MINI has done, was a re-design of those rear tail lights, and unlike the Union Jack-themed ones found on the brand’s other models, the Countryman’s tail lamps are a bolder design, with an exposed three-dimensional profile and illuminate in reverse.

Inside

Tiny changes to the interior, include an all-new instrument panel, similar to the one first seen in the MINI Electric, which features a 5” digital screen flanked by analogue dials. Interior bits and bobs fit well, and quality feels on-par with cars from its BMW German parent (which includes the X1, which the Countryman is very closely related to), though the Volvo XC40’s interior offers quite a serious fight. One of the things that I must mention is that MINI will be ditching leather in-time to come, so for those who enjoy their cow hide, this Countryman might just be the last one to bring you the material.

Not only has the instrument cluster seen a revamp, but MINI has also revised their infotainment unit, and it now features an 8.8” touchscreen that supports both Android and Apple devices. Serious upgrades to the infotainment include the MINI Connected app, that adds even more integration between your mobile device and your vehicle; and you can now link your calendar to it, with your app being able to prompt you on when would be the best time to leave for your next activity, factoring in real-time traffic information.

As with the rest of the MINIs in the range, the Countryman sits on quite a short wheelbase, but with its relatively tall body, passenger room, including headroom for rear passengers is easily more-than adequate for the average adult.

Naturally, SUVs are built with versatility in-mind, and the Countryman does boast a 450 litre boot. Dividing up boot space via a false floor creates even more load carrying capacity for the compact SUV, going up to 1,390 litres with the rear seats folded. Retained beneath the false floor, is a nifty fold-out bench that you can deploy; great if you do need a place to sit when putting on your cycling shoes.

The Drive

Earlier in production, the Cooper S Countryman with its 2.0 turbocharged four cylinder produced 192hp, and 280Nm. With new Euro emissions standards, the same two-litre engine now produces less, at 178hp, though it still develops 280Nm. Another thing that the Countryman loses are the once expressive pops and bangs you would get in Sport mode. Newly revised lower power figures have not dampened the on-paper performance of the fae-lifted MINI, with it reaching 100km/h in the same 7.4 seconds as it takes for the pre-facelift; but that is at least on paper… but believe me, power is power.

Driven enthusiastically, the Cooper S Countryman dips into each turn with the accuracy that could match some good handling hatchbacks out there. Jab on the throttle while in ‘Sport’ mode, and the MINI gives a satisfying shove into the driver’s seat, while that 7-speed Steptronic dual clutch transmission quickly swaps cogs, as you build up speed in quick succession. Ease the car out of ‘Sport’ mode, and the Cooper S Countryman knows how to deliver in a relaxed fashion, with a little less aggression in its throttle, and gear changes that are earlier; giving you that everyday ease of use with elastic performance to suit your daily needs.

Our Thoughts

As we move into an age where cars are increasingly going to be electrified, there will be a day (quite soon really) where all cars within the MINI stable will be EVs; and we will all miss this mechanical whiz-bang that makes cars such a joy to own.

Nothing, I believe, beats a Countryman in the compact premium segment, in terms of driver engagement, and how the car is simply designed to pop… even if the facelifted car has lost some of its grunt.

In Summary

We Like

Great handling. Quirky styling that is attractive. Two-litre turbocharged engine, delivers on performance, even with lesser power.

We Don't

Less power. Less noise.

Verdict

If it is a premium soft-roader you are looking for, the Countryman might be pint-sized compared to some of the competition, but it is big on fun, and handles great. Sad that they had to reduce the power.

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Engine

Engine Capacity 1998cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 11:1
Bore x Stroke (82 x 94.6)mm
Power 192bhp @ 5000rpm
Torque 280Nm @ 1350rpm

Performance

Acceleration 7.4s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 225 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 16.9 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 8 -speed Auto
Drive Type FF

Measurements

Body Type SUV
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4299 x 1822 x 1557) mm
Wheelbase 2670 mm
Boot Capacity 450 L
Boot Capacity (folded) 1390 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 44 L

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs