The Mini Countryman’s interior looks fun and easy to use. It’s nicely built and feels posher than most SUVs, but you’ll need to fork out for some expensive options to get the best from it
You pay a premium for a Mini Countryman compared to other family SUVs such as the Nissan Qashqai, but it does feel like a more premium product. Most of the plastics you’ll touch are squishy and expensive feeling, the toggle switches are metallic and satisfyingly cold to the touch, and cubbies open with a damped smoothness.
You get that same sense of quality with a BMW X1, but you don’t get the Countryman’s fun touches such as its large circular infotainment screen that looks like a huge speedo, and its red engine starter toggle. The infotainment screen’s bezel even switches colours depending on what you’re doing as if the car has its own personality.
Cooper models come with Cloth Firework upholstery that’s dark and will resist stains. Trading up to Cooper S buys you body-hugging sports seats with racing stripes, although John Cooper S models are sportiest of all – their seats are even more heavily bolstered, you get JCW-branded metal kick plates in the door openings, a sports steering wheel and a sportier gear shifter with a red-stitched gaiter.
From the inside, the Mini Countryman looks and feels like a smaller Mini that has been enlarged by a 3D printer
The Mini comes with a 6.5-inch infotainment screen. It has DAB digital radio, a Bluetooth phone connection and sat-nav with pretty graphics and menus that are easy to navigate. It’s controlled via a rotary dial in between the front seats which makes it easy to scroll through menus on the move.
It’s worth upgrading to the larger 8.8-inch system, though, which comes as part of the £1,100 Media Pack XL. It’s really colourful, slick and easy to use, and can be navigated either via the touchscreen (it recognises hand gestures such as pinch and zoom), or by using the scroll knob in between the two front seats.
If you have an iPhone you can use Apple CarPlay to stream Apple Maps and your favourite media-streaming services to the car’s screen and sound system – it also removes the temptation to fiddle with your phone when you’re driving.