As if the lines hadn’t already been blurred enough between the brand name ‘Mini’ and the word itself, BMW Mini have now s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d the meaning even further with its new Mini Countryman. Those of us old enough to remember the original Mini Countryman will be finding it tricky to avoid picturing an estate version of the Mini with wood-panelled sides – but this new Mini Countryman is a genuine Crossover, bridging the gap between the classic MINI and a modern Sports Activity Vehicle.

The result is likely to polarise opinions, both in terms of its looks and its utility value.

The Countryman will be the fourth model in the Mini family introducing two unique features; it’s the first model in the Mini range with four doors and a wide-opening rear lid, it’s also the first Mini to offer all-wheel drive.

BMW describe it as offering enhanced opportunities in urban mobility and beyond, providing that unique driving pleasure so typical of MINI to new target groups requiring extra space and flexibility. The Countryman carries on the design of the Mini brand, combining larger body dimensions, greater ground clearance, voluminous wheel arches and upright rear light clusters extending visibly from the body .

Positioned almost upright, the front end bears out strong presence and is said to optimise pedestrian safety. The extra space within the car, in turn, is emphasised by extra-large windows, the introduction of four doors, and the individual shape of the roof. The particularly wide frame around the lower part of the body and the powerfully flared wheel arches highlight the robust character of the car and its all-wheel drive.

Mini’s new Countryman – love it or hate it, it’s certainly unique

Within the interior the Mini Countryman boasts innovative design and function elements throughout. The slightly elevated seating position provides comfortable and pleasant access to the car and optimises the driver’s all-round view. The Central Display and air vents are surrounded by coloured rings. The Mini Centre Rail extends from front to rear instead of a conventional centre console, which then opens up new, individual options for integrating all kinds of storage boxes, cup-holders, external audio devices, mobile phones and other features. Flexibly positioned clip-in elements enable the driver and passengers to subdivide the storage boxes individually as required, keeping travel utensils within easy reach, wherever they are required. At the same time the Centre Rail forms an unconventional, visual and functional connection between the front seats and the rear passenger area.

As standard, the Countryman comes with four seats, while a three-seat bench is available as a no-cost option. The interior is said to provide generous legroom, headroom and shoulder room whilst the rear seats move fore-and-aft either individually or in a 60 : 40 (three-seat bench) split, whilst the backrests may be tilted for angle either individually or in a 40 : 20 : 40 (three-seat bench) arrangement, increasing capacity in the luggage compartment from 350 to 1,170 litres.

The Countryman will be launched with a choice of three petrol and two diesel engines, all featuring the new generation of power units complying with the EU5 and ULEV II emission standards. The power range extends from 89 bhp in the Mini One D Countryman all the way to 182 bhp in the Mini Cooper S Countryman. The 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine in the top model comes for the first time not only with a twin-scroll turbocharger and direct fuel injection, but also with fully variable valve management, improving fuel consumption whilst retaining performance.

As a particular highlight of the MINIMALISM fuel efficiency concept, the Mini Countryman comes as standard and in appropriate combinations on each model with a wide range of features serving to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, among them Brake Energy Regeneration, Auto Start Stop, a gearshift point indicator, and on-demand management of the engine’s ancillary units. And as an alternative to the six-speed manual gearbox featured as standard, the petrol engine models are also available with six-speed automatic complete with Steptronic.

As an option the Mini Cooper S Countryman and Mini Cooper D Countryman are available with permanent Mini ALL4 all-wheel drive, an electro-hydraulic differential positioned directly on the final drive varying the distribution from front to rear in an infinite process. Under normal driving conditions up to 50 per cent of the engine’s power goes to the rear wheels, whilst under extreme conditions up to 100 per cent – opening up the possibility of power oversteer on loose surfaces. Now that sounds fun!

The Mini Countryman also comes as standard with DSC Dynamic Stability Control, DTC Dynamic Traction Control coming either as an option or as a standard feature on the MINI Cooper S Countryman and the MINI Cooper D Countryman with ALL4, as well as an electronic limited-slip function for the front axle differential.

The wide range of customisation options on both the exterior and interior again so typical of Mini are supplemented by new, model-specific features exclusive to the Countryman. New combinations in the range of interior colours, trim strips and upholstery enable even the most discerning customer to create his – or her – very special car with truly unique character.

Standard features are similar to other models in the Mini family, with unique choices available for the Countryman including an extra-large Panorama roof, light-alloy wheels ranging in size from 16 to 19 inches, sports suspension lowering the entire car by 10 millimetres as well as the wide range of John Cooper Works Performance Components.

We will have further information specific to the UK market during the next few days, but in the meantime take a good look at the picture gallery below and let us know whether you think the Countryman will be a hit or a FAIL.


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Steve Davies

Steve is an investor, private equity advisor and former Partner at KPMG, PwC and Bain.   Most importantly he's a life-long car enthusiast, mountain biker and active sports enthusiast. He designs and builds technology platforms and is the architect behind Transmission.

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