MINI Countryman

Crossover Mini available with four-wheel-drive

7.3
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 27 reviews
  • Well-built
  • Fun to drive
  • Characterful
  • Awkward looks
  • Underpowered 'One' models
  • Small boot
 

£17,125 - £32,850 Price range

 

5 Seats

 

36 - 67 MPG

Review

The MINI Countryman is a small SUV that is fun to drive and very fashionable. Its closest rivals are the Nissan Qashqai, the Skoda Yeti and the Peugeot 3008.

Prices start from £17,125 and if you buy your new Countryman using carwow you can save £480 on average.

Many buttons, heating controls positioned too low and a huge speedometer in the centre – it is definitely a MINI. Also MINI is the high quality of the materials and the overall robust feel of the interior. Passenger space is decent, although not as good as in a 3008, but the driving position is high so it gives a good overview of the road ahead.

All MINIs have precise steering and agile handling, but the high riding Countryman pushes the well-sorted chassis to its limit. It’s a very capable car and will bring a smile to the driver’s face, but the uncomfortable seats and noisy interior can become tiring. There is also a four-wheel-drive version for that snowy day in January.

There is a wide choice of four-cylinder petrols and diesels, but the most sensible one is the 1.6-litre diesel in the Cooper D. Despite being powered by a diesel engine, the car retains all of its character and fun, while being quite cheap to run. The petrols are less fuel efficient and also lack the low down power of the diesels.

The basic One models are nicely equipped with most things you’ll need for city life, and the sporty versions can transform the MINI into a performance hatchback. The options list is impressive, but can make the MINI’s price huge.

Have a look at our colours and dimensions guides to get a better idea about the Countryman or check out our 2017 MINI Countryman price, specs and release date article for full details on its upcoming replacement or read our Countryman JCW guide for full details on its upcoming sporty sibling.

Cheapest to buy: One petrol

Cheapest to run: One D diesel

Fastest model: Cooper S ALL4 Auto petrol

Most popular: Cooper petrol

It’s standard MINI fare inside the Countryman, which means it’s well-designed and beautifully executed, even if the button-heavy dash can be confusing.

Mini Countryman passenger space

The Countryman is available with either two or three seats in the back. Most reviewers recommend going for the three-seater option because it makes the car more practical and should mean the car is worth slightly more when it comes to selling it.

The driving position is lofty but comfortable and there is a decent amount of space for three kids in the back – and even three adults if they’re slim and good friends.

Mini Countryman bootspace

The boot is big enough for most people’s needs too. With 350 litres of space with the seats up, rising to 1,170 when you fold them, the MINI has a boot comparable to that of the larger Qashqai. However, a Skoda Yeti has a more spacious boot able to hold 416-litre with all the seats in place.

 

The sharp steering is at odds with the stilt-like stance according to some, but it’s a competent performer otherwise that loses out a bit thanks to that raised suspension. The sportier versions have come in for some criticism, though the ride is fairly comfortable. The biggest issue when driving is wind and road noise, which are quite intrusive.

The optional four-wheel drive option, called ALL4, will help to keep you mobile when the going gets tough – it’s front-wheel drive mode on dry roads and can switch power to the rear wheels if it becomes necessary. Don’t think that the four-wheel drive and chunky looks mean that the MINI can challenge a proper off-roader because it can’t, although some critics were pleasantly surprised at how competent it was in the rough.

There’s a range of trim-specific petrol and diesel engines available in the Countryman, but be careful which you pick. There is a choice between a six-speed automatic and a six-speed manual and reviewers generally sway towards the manual for its precise and effortless shifts.

MINI Countryman petrol engines

The general view is that the petrol engines (One, Cooper, Cooper S, John Cooper Works) are free revving but do need to be stoked into action and lack pull low down. The Cooper S is fairly fast and fun, and the basic One is very economical, though a bit underpowered for such a heavy car. The One takes 11.9 seconds from 0-62mph while the Cooper S is much faster at 7.7 seconds. Fuel economy is 47mpg and 38.2mpg respectively.

MINI Countryman diesel engines

The Cooper diesel engines (Cooper D, Cooper SD) have a wall of torque and are economical and good fun to drive – you don’t lose any of the fun character by opting for an oil burner. However they are all quite noisy and the One D is again underpowered and worth giving a swerve – with a claimed return of 67.3mpg, the Cooper D is just as frugal as the One D. They are also the cheapest to road tax – £30 a year.

As with the Paceman, avoid specifying auto and ALL4 models unless they’re a necessity for you. They seriously harm fuel economy, with a Countryman equipped with both being a third thirstier than one with neither.

We aggregate and summarise the most helpful MINI Countryman Cooper D reviews from the best publications.

The diesel powered Cooper D is fitted with a 1.6–litre turbocharged engine that develops 107bhp and 177lb ft of torque (192lb ft on overboost, which can be used for brief periods, such as overtaking).

It’s an economical engine, and owners should be able to get around 45mpg without trying too hard. It will reach 60mph in 10.5 seconds and go on to a top speed of 118mph. The CO2 emissions are 149g/km, meaning £130 in tax a year.

It has its critics though with one writing that “less impressive is the engine’s noise. Some small diesels are so refined that you’re never normally aware of their power source, but not this one. Even if you slot the lever into sixth and go cruising, the engine’s sound is a noticeable presence in the cabin, even audible over the substantial roar from the optional 17in wheels’ tyres.”

It's a reasonably efficient engine, but the slow acceleration and the noisy engine mean it might be worth looking at different engines in the Countryman.

We aggregate and summarise the most helpful MINI Countryman Cooper S reviews from the best publications.

The Cooper S turbocharged petrol engine displaces 1598cc over four cylinders and develops 173bhp and a maximum of 192lb ft on overboost. The old MINI’s supercharger is long gone, and its characteristic whine has been replaced with a soft “whoffle”.

It’s a perky little engine that drives the heavyweight Countryman to 62mph in 7.6sec and onto a top speed of 139mph. Journalists report that it “goes at quite a lick” and “charges forward from low revs with an elastic pull”, thanks to a “torque curve that’s set-square flat from 1600-5000rpm, allowing instant acceleration without the need for frantic gearchanges”.

There’s a price to pay for that performance though; the fuel consumption isn’t great at around 40mpg and the CO2 emissions are a middling 150g/km, meaning tax of £130+ a year (more if you order the ALL4 four-wheel drive system).

There is also the diesel powered Cooper SD, which is worth a look, though this Cooper S is the sportiest engine, at least until the John Cooper Works Countryman comes out later this year.

We aggregate and summarise the most helpful MINI Countryman Cooper SD reviews from the best publications.

The Cooper SD is a bigger, 2.0-litre version of the standard ‘D’ and develops 141bhp and 225lb ft of torque, enough to propel the Countryman on to a top speed of 134mph. Acceleration is brisk with 62mph being reached in 8.6 seconds.

You would think that making the standard turbocharged diesel engine bigger to produce more power would be a good thing, but some reviewers aren’t so sure. One writes that the engine is “torque-rich and punchy, but in a fairly narrow powerband, so while point-to-point pace is good, a petrol Cooper S provides a sportier experience and a less potent Cooper D serves up similar effervescence for £1500 less and with lower running costs.”

Emissions start at a relatively healthy 115g/km (£95 a year tac) and the fuel consumption should be around 50mpg in everyday use. This does increase with the auto gearbox and ALL4 four-wheel drive system though.

These are general, non-engine specific reviews. They give a nice overview of what the car is like, without focusing on just one engine/version.
We aggregate and summarise the most helpful MINI Countryman One D reviews from the best publications.

The smallest and cheapest diesel engine in the Countryman is the 1.6-litre four-cylinder version fitted to the MINI One D. It develops 90bhp taking the Countryman to leisurely top speed of 106mph, with 62mph passing in a glacial 12.9 seconds.

The 1.6-litre engine struggles in the MINI, and few can see why anyone would pay the extra for a diesel that performs so badly in what is quite a heavy car.

Others are even more forthright, and say that it is “The engine is loud and, like every Countryman, this model is noisy on the motorway. Its extra cost over the equivalent petrol-engined model is hard to justify.”

It should be economical though, with 60+mpg possible and CO2 emissions of 115g/kms (£30 a year in tax), so it might be worth considering if economy is your priority.

The Countryman scores well at Euro NCAP with good ratings in all categories. There’s nothing it does spectacularly well, but then it doesn’t do anything badly either.

There’s the usual suite of electronics and bubblewrap as all Countrymans (Countrymen?) get six airbags, stability control, brake force distribution, brake assist and hill assist – and if you grab an ALL4 model you get the extra surefootedness of four wheel drive, which is especially useful in grizzly conditions.

The Mini is expensive compared to its rivals, probably because it can be. Top-spec John Cooper Works models can see you parting with an eye-watering thirty grand and Mini’s extensive and expensive options list is the stuff of legend.

There are a lot of trim levels for the Countryman and even the basic one gets rear parking sensors, air-conditioning, heated door mirrors, Bluetooth phone connectivity as well as a DAB digital radio. The top of the range John Cooper Works comes with an aggressive bodykit, large alloy wheels, sport leather seats as well as sports suspension.

Conclusion

Unlike some of the other Mini niche-filling cars, it’s pretty easy to see what the point of the Countryman is – it’s a Mini branded crossover. It keeps with an awful lot of the traditional values that make the brand so strong, with good driving dynamics and a slightly retro interior that’s worlds apart from the blander offerings from brand owner BMW and its countrymen.

Compared to many rivals it looks expensive, particularly as the cheaper base models are too underpowered to make for reasonable ownership propositions, but remember that few have the same badge attraction and it will likely depreciate less as a result. Grab a Cooper S model and you’ll have one of those rare cars that does a little bit of everything and does it well.