CAR REVIEW: MINI Countryman

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Cheryl Tay Blog | Blog Post of Cheryl Tay

MINI Countryman

This might sound like an oxymoron but the MINI Countryman is huge. This is the biggest and tallest MINI of them all and when I picked it up at the MINI Habitat, it totally stood out from the rest of the other MINIs.

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Realising that there are MINI fans who might need a car larger and more functional the typical MINI Cooper, the crossover version of the MINI was born – the Countryman. There was the Clubman and its rear-hinged door but that did not seem to be the right solution.

 

The true four-door all-wheel-drive Countryman compared to the usual MINI, is 16 inches longer, four inches wider and half a foot taller, but there is no mistaking it as a MINI with its iconic proportions with enlarged insides.

298565_10150288998872710_602152709_7561639_39627_nRetaining the all too familiar inside of a MINI, the Countryman has only the tachometer attached to the steering wheel column and the signature oversized speedometer in the middle.

 

The speedometer has a 6.5-inch display within its circular screen called the Visual Boost where there are audio and telephone functions, as well as vehicle information. Controlling of the Visual Boost is via two buttons and a little joystick-like button before the steering lever.

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319061_10150288998957710_602152709_7561641_7504544_nSitting high up within the Countryman, this is the best view ever from a MINI thanks to its taller stance. Because of the Visual Boost, it is a bit hard to read the speedometer as the needle is too small. Hence I advise reading the digital speedometer on the tachometer instead, which is easier to read because of its driver-friendly location.

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A most conspicuous thing in the Countryman is this centre rails that runs from the base of the gear level all the way to the back seats. You can fix an optional armrest on it or simply just clip on almost anything onto the rails, like sunglasses cases or iPhone docks.

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307006_10150288996032710_602152709_7561595_4910194_n

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317041_10150288996452710_602152709_7561606_7011898_nHowever, as much as it made an interesting conversational topic with my passengers, I could not find anything useful for it except for sliding the default casing on the rails to the back for the run for it. I remember watching a Countryman television advertisement overseas and the rail was used as a sushi conveyor belt to slide plates to the back!

 

The presence of these rails means strictly seating only two in the back, but it would have been a squeeze for three had there be no rails. Space is glorious in the back with a higher seating position and higher ceiling, making it much more comfortable than in the Clubman. If you think you prefer not to have the centre rail, you can have it removed for a three-seater rear bench.

 

Soaking up bumps and humps comfortably, the Countryman is driven by the familiar 1.6-litre turbocharged engine from the Cooper S, delivering 184bhp at a peak due to the addition of variable-valve timing. It is capable of 240Nm but there is an overboost function that makes it 260Nm. Using a six-speed automatic gearbox, the Countryman takes 8.3 seconds to hit 100km/h from a standstill.

320229_10150288997722710_602152709_7561627_7337715_n312293_10150288995132710_602152709_7561583_2343502_n305849_10150288996382710_602152709_7561604_2980560_n MINI claims a similar drive to its Coopers but given its size, proportions and set-up, the Countryman does not quite drive as perky as the typical MINI. However, it more than satisfies the requirements of a crossover – comfortable, steady and safe, yet with that edge in driving for a sporty run once in a while. There is a Sport button that you can activate for sharper throttle response and greater steering feedback.

307370_10150288995422710_602152709_7561586_4235068_nSome might say this MINI, like the Clubman, takes away the essence of MINI but I beg to differ. It is still a MINI in many ways, just more mature.

 

MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4

Engine: 1,598cc turbocharged

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Max Power: 184bhp at 5,500rpm

Max Torque: 240Nm at 1,600-5,000rpm (260Nm with Overboost)

0-100km/h: 8.3 secs

Top speed: 205 km/h

Price: $190,800 (with COE)

Distributor: Eurokars

228946_10150288998617710_602152709_7561635_7781438_n(+): Family-friendly

(-): Not sure of purpose of centre rail

Conclusion: Still a MINI after all.

Rating: 7 out of 10

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Cheryl Tay

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Singapore’s only female full-time motoring and motorsports photojournalist. Independent automotive consultant and prominent local motorsports personality Cheryl Tay is uniquely passionate about all things cars and motorsports. She also has a strong passion to share her interest and knowledge, hence having a dream to become the ‘Oprah Winfrey of cars and motorsports’ and create a multimedia platform for her sharing. - A female in a male-dominated world, Cheryl Tay is Singapore’s only female full-time motoring journalist and motorsports blogger and she regularly writes for prominent titles in Singapore, Asia and internationally. (See full list of titles that Cheryl Tay writes for here.)

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