Automotive

Mini ignores its compact roots with chunky new Countryman

Mini ignores its compact roots...
Mini has drifted a long way from its roots with the new Countryman
Mini has drifted a long way from its roots with the new Countryman
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Mini wants outdoorsy buyers to look at the new Countryman
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Mini wants outdoorsy buyers to look at the new Countryman
The Mini Countryman's trunk lip has been designed to work as a comfortable seat
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The Mini Countryman's trunk lip has been designed to work as a comfortable seat
The interior is standard Mini, albeit a bit bigger
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The interior is standard Mini, albeit a bit bigger
Mini has made big strides in its material quality and interior design recently
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Mini has made big strides in its material quality and interior design recently
The Mini Countryman has more rear seat space thanks to a longer wheelbase
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The Mini Countryman has more rear seat space thanks to a longer wheelbase
The interior of the Mini Countryman really lights up at night
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The interior of the Mini Countryman really lights up at night
The contrast roof of the Mini Countryman is one of its unique design touches
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The contrast roof of the Mini Countryman is one of its unique design touches
Mini has gone for chunky detailing on its new Countryman
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Mini has gone for chunky detailing on its new Countryman
Details on the new Mini Countryman 
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Details on the new Mini Countryman 
Mini wants the Countryman to look bigger and tougher than it is
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Mini wants the Countryman to look bigger and tougher than it is
The Mini Countryman's trunk lip has been designed to work as a comfortable seat
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The Mini Countryman's trunk lip has been designed to work as a comfortable seat
Trunk space is up in the new Mini Countryman
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Trunk space is up in the new Mini Countryman
The Countryman has more than 400 liters of trunk space with the rear seats upright
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The Countryman has more than 400 liters of trunk space with the rear seats upright
The downturned grille on the Mini Countryman makes it look perpetually unhappy
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The downturned grille on the Mini Countryman makes it look perpetually unhappy
The new Mini Countryman comes with a range of petrol, diesel and hybrid engines
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The new Mini Countryman comes with a range of petrol, diesel and hybrid engines
The Mini Countryman is designed to work on and off road
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The Mini Countryman is designed to work on and off road
The Mini Countryman is wider and longer than its predecessor
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The Mini Countryman is wider and longer than its predecessor
The Countryman can be customised with different colored roofs, stripes and wheels
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The Countryman can be customised with different colored roofs, stripes and wheels
The Mini Countryman is designed to work on and off road
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The Mini Countryman is designed to work on and off road
The bloated look of the Mini Countryman isn't to our tastes, but some will like it
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The bloated look of the Mini Countryman isn't to our tastes, but some will like it
The staggered windowline on the new Mini Countryman gives it unique look from side on
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The staggered windowline on the new Mini Countryman gives it unique look from side on
The new Mini Countryman
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The new Mini Countryman
Mini has drifted a long way from its roots with the new Countryman
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Mini has drifted a long way from its roots with the new Countryman
The new car side-by-side with its predecessor
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The new car side-by-side with its predecessor
The new car side-by-side with its predecessor
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The new car side-by-side with its predecessor
You can even tow with the new Countryman 
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You can even tow with the new Countryman 
A look at the Mini family, side-by-side
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A look at the Mini family, side-by-side

Since 2001, BMW has aggressively expanded the range of cars wearing a Mini badge. Coupes and funky vans have joined the classic hatch, but no car signals a bigger departure from the compact simplicity of the original Sir Alec Issigonis Mini than the Countryman SUV. Now there's a new one, which is even bigger and heavier than the original.

Even though it's wearing a Mini badge on the hood, the new Countryman has been designed with a real focus on practicality. The car's body has grown 20 cm (7.9 in) longer and 3 cm (1.2 in) wider, and its wheelbase has been extended by 7.5 cm (2.9 in) for better legroom in all five seats.

There's even a usable 450 liters (15.9 cubic ft) in the boot, or a capacious 1,309 liters (46.2 cu.ft) with the rear seats folded. Unfortunately, this extra size contributes to a jump of around 100 kg in curb weight.

Some designers make a concerted effort to hide the size of their cars, but the team at Mini has done the opposite. With chunky bumpers, oversized lights and swollen wheel arches, all the details are overblown to make the car look bigger and tougher than it actually is. We're not sure about the finished result, which looks a bit frumpy with its cross-eyed headlamps and downturned grille, but someone is sure to like it.

The bloated look of the Mini Countryman isn't to our tastes, but some will like it
The bloated look of the Mini Countryman isn't to our tastes, but some will like it

The cabin has mostly been borrowed from the Clubman, although a few trim pieces have been swapped out to match the Countryman's chunkier exterior. When the first New Mini launched back in 2001, it was widely criticized for low-quality interior materials, but the intervening 15 years have seen big improvements. Having poked and prodded at a Clubman JCW ALL4 in Paris, we're happy to say it's almost a match for the best that Mercedes or Audi can offer in the A-Class and A3, and the Countryman should be no different.

There are plenty of options in the engine lineup, including the first ever Mini Plug-In Hybrid, but the range kicks off with the familiar BMW Group petrol three-cylinder turbo making 100 kW (136 hp) and 220 Nm (162 lb.ft). Jumping up in the range gets you the Cooper S, powered by a 141 kW (192 hp) four-cylinder turbo.

Interestingly, the Cooper S won't be the quickest Countryman. That honor is reserved for a four-cylinder diesel in the shape of the Cooper SD, which makes 140 kW (190 hp) of power and a handy 400 Nm (295 lb.ft) of torque. Lower-end engines will be available with a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed steptronic auto, although range-topping cars will come with an eight-speed auto as standard.

The staggered windowline on the new Mini Countryman gives it unique look from side on
The staggered windowline on the new Mini Countryman gives it unique look from side on

The plug-in hybrid on offer combines a three-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor for a total system output of 165 kW (224 hp) and 385 Nm (284 lb.ft). As yet, there's no word about all-electric range. Although the official fuel consumption figure is a measly 2.1 l/100 km (112 mpg), so we'd be amazed if anyone goes near it during regular driving.

As yet, there's no word on pricing for the Countryman, but it will make its official debut at the LA Motor Show in November, before hitting showrooms in February 2017. Expect it to start around US$23,000, before options, of course.

Source: BMW

2 comments
VincentWolf
We need a full electric BEV mini cooper convertible!!
Bob Flint
Instead of this bloated pig, go back to the real roots and deliver a fun, fully electric "mini"...