The Countryman might be bigger than other Minis but it’s almost as fun to drive – sadly it’s also quite noisy at a cruise and its suspension can feel too firm on bumpy roads
The Mini Countryman is available with two diesel and three petrol engines.
The best all-round engine is the 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol fitted to Cooper models. Its small size helps the Countryman feel light on its feet and also means it can return official fuel economy of 51.4mpg or around 40mpg in normal driving.
It sounds reasonably sporty, revs more freely than the lumbering Cooper D diesel and has a turbocharger for a little extra oomph away from the lights – it gets from 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds, which is plenty quick if you live in town.
In corners, the Countryman feels like a Mini hatchback that’s carrying a little too much weight
You should only buy the Cooper D diesel if you often drive on the motorway – where you can realistically achieve fuel economy of more than 60mpg – it also feels quicker than the petrol Cooper when you’re overtaking.
Quicker models such as the Cooper SD diesel and Cooper S and John Cooper Works petrols are a little bit pointless in a family SUV such as this.
The Mini Countryman feels sporty to drive thanks to quick steering and firm suspension. It leans a little more in corners than the go-kart-like Mini hatchback, but it’s not a million miles away and it is definitely more fun to drive than the BMW X1.
Trouble is, that fun handling has come at the expense of comfort, so when you’re driving in town it can be a little bumpy on poorly surfaced roads. If you want it to be as comfortable as possible add the £450 variable damper control, which can slacken off the suspension to better absorb bumps or stiffen it for cornering.
Sadly, there’s no solution to the big blind spot around the windscreen, which can block your view of traffic when exiting junctions. The small rear window is also a pain when reverse parking but you can get around it by spending £335 on front and rear parking sensors. In fact, they’re almost essential, even if you’re a confident parker.
The £1,495 six-speed automatic gearbox (standard on SD models) is also worth the money if you drive a lot in town and want to give your left foot a break from operating the clutch. It changes gear smoothly and has no noticeable effect on fuel economy.
The same isn’t true of four-wheel drive. It’s available across the range but will knock 5mpg off the fuel economy you can expect to achieve. It’s only worth considering if you often drive on slippery roads or intend on using your Countryman as a tow car. With it fitted the Countryman can tow up to 1,800kg compared to the 1,500kgs of two-wheel-drive models.
All Countrymans suffer from more tyre roar and wind noise than a BMW. The big Mini is safe, though – it scored five stars when it was crash-tested by Euro NCAP in 2017 and all models come fitted with automatic emergency brakes as standard.