What is it: The biggest Mini Cooper of the bunch becomes even more crossover-like to steal sales from other small luxury ‘utes. Mini is only in the name now.
Base Price: $31,950 As-Tested Price: $35,750
Highlights: The biggest Mini uses the same four cylinder as its smaller brethren, which makes it feel just a bit slower on the road, but the availability of a six-speed manual is always welcome. Styling is quintessentially Mini, so if that’s what you want, you can get it here.
Our Opinion: Even in Cooper S trim, the Countryman isn’t as chuckable as I’d like it to be. The steering weight and feel are both good, and the suspension doesn’t beat you up like some of the smaller Minis, but in that tradeoff it loses some of its character. If someone could put this suspension feel with the fastest and smallest JCW Cooper, that would be about the perfect setup.
Power, at 189 hp is just 30 or so shy of what this car needs to feel like a Cooper. In the basic Mini, even the new three-cylinder feels peppy. This needs to be revved to the stratosphere. The brakes are fine--small stroke, strong bite—but the shifter is a little sloppy/wobbly. I had recently driven the Honda Civic Si, which has perfect, perfect shifter feel, so that may have skewed my perception.
Even though the Countryman looks twice as big as the smaller Mini, it's nowhere near spacious. I took the family up to the cabin over the weekend and had to settle for my wife’s Ford Escape when loading up the pack-and-play crib, Radio Flyer wagon, toys, and boatloads--including a boat--of other junk for a three-day stay.
The Countryman looks cool, if you think the Cooper looks cool, which I do. And it’s surely on the happy side of the fun-to-drive equation. I’d say it’s probably more engaging than, 60 percent of the cars on the road. But, if you’re looking for utility over style, you might want to look elsewhere.
ON SALE: Now
BASE PRICE: $31,950
AS TESTED PRICE: $35,750
DRIVETRAIN: 2.0-liter DOHC turbo I4, AWD, 6-speed manual
OUTPUT: 189 hp @ 5,000 rpm; 206 lb-ft @ 1,350 rpm
CURB WEIGHT: 3,629 lb
FUEL ECONOMY: 21/31/24(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
OPTIONS: Technology package: Parking assistant, Head-up display, MINI Connected 5, Real time traffic information ($2,250); Cloth/leatherette black pearl ($750); Thunder grey metallic ($500); Sirius XM w/1 yr subscription ($300)
PROS: Much of what Mini owners love in a larger package
CONS: Still not much space inside compared to other crossovers
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