You don’t need to see the Mini badge to know the Countryman is related to the stylish hatchback that BMW reinvigorated way back in 2001. The Countryman is bigger inside and out that it’s Hatchback sibling because it’s technically an SUV. You still won’t have any trouble getting this one into parking spaces or down country lanes as it’s really just a slightly pumped-up family car. Its closest rivals are the SEAT Ateca and Fiat 500X.
Every Countryman gets alloy wheels of varying sizes as standard, along with chrome-effect trim around the headlights and grille, roof bars and cladding on the wheel arches and door sills, all of which lend it a quasi-SUV look. A 2020 facelift added Union Flag rear lights and altered the bumpers and grille - because you can’t have a Mini without some hint of British style.
You can’t have a Mini without some hint of British style.
What’s it like to drive?
It may take you a little while to find the perfect driving position in the Mini Countryman. The seat and steering wheel are easily adjusted, so you’ll soon feel at home. A higher centre of gravity often means SUVs don’t tend to handle as well as conventional hatchbacks. The Mini Countryman is one of the better examples, with all of the engines having enough power to help the Mini keep up with traffic, even when fully loaded.
The earlier, Mk1 version of the Countryman had a particularly firm ride quality. That was improved with the Mk2, and these make up the bulk of the cars you’ll find at cinch. The Countryman’s good body control inspires confidence when you’re heading down a twisty B-road or just cruising on the motorway. Its direct steering helps to make parking easier. Some models have the option of All4 four-wheel drive, which improves traction on poor surfaces.
Countryman’s good body control inspires confidence when you’re heading down a twisty B-road.
The ‘new’ Mini’s interior has always looked classy, thanks to retro styling and quality materials, and the Mk2 Countryman’s is no exception, with lots of soft-touch plastics, leather and a few metal bits, depending on trim level or option pack. The dashboard is dominated by a circular binnacle that contains a rectangular screen (6.5 inches or 8.8 inches) and audio controls. Below this are the rotary ventilation controls and toggle switches. The latest cars put another digital display ahead of the driver.
As standard, you get Bluetooth connectivity, air-con, cruise control and a DAB radio. Packs such as Chili, Comfort, Navigation and Tech add all manner of goodies, while on most models the Tech Pack adds parking sensors, heated front seats and upgrades the stereo. Have a look at ‘car features’ to see which is fitted to the Minis on cinch. Later models have Apple CarPlay and sat-nav as standard.
You’ll find much more space on offer inside the Countryman than the regular Mini hatchback. In fact, accommodation is on a par with that of the Audi Q2. There’s decent leg and headroom when you’re in the supportive front seats, while two adults will be happy with the space on offer in the rear. A third, centre, passenger won’t be very comfortable for long on the raised perch, though
Up front you’ll find a couple of cup holders to cradle your morning coffee, a reasonable glovebox and enough space in the door bins for a few bits and bobs. Rear-seat passengers also get door bins, perfect for their road-trip snacks.
Those rear seats are split 40/20/40 and the Activity Pack allows them to be reclined at different angles and slide to boost legroom or boot space.
Speaking of which, the Mk2 Countryman’s boot will hold 450 litres with seats in place and 1390 litres with the seat backs folded – plenty of space for your luggage or camping gear. That’s better than the Mk1 Countryman, though not quite on par with the SEAT Ateca. Find a car with the Storage Compartment Pack and you’ll get nets and straps to keep your shopping in place, plus boot floor that adjusts for height.
Running costs and reliability
Most versions of the Countryman come with a choice of front or all-wheel drive, although the PHEV plug-in hybrid is ALL4 only. The 1.5 turbo petrol in the Cooper returns around 45mpg, officially, while the 2.0-litre turbo in the Cooper S will give you around 40mpg.
The diesel Cooper SD sips less fuel, at close to 55mpg on average. The real star is the PHEV plug-in hybrid, with an official WLTP figure of 141.2mpg. That’s very much dependant on how often you keep its battery topped up and whether you do short journeys at lower speeds (a good thing) or longer motorway trips (not so great in a hybrid car) – so bear that in mind before you expect miraculous figures.
What cinch loves
We love the fact that Mini makes a car that’s practical enough for families. Unlike many SUVs, the Countryman is genuinely fun to drive – the downside is a firmer ride quality than you’ll find in most of its rivals, but it smooths away most ruts and bumps without fuss. We also love the Countryman’s styling and we’ll never get bored looking at the retro dashboard.
The Countryman is a fine choice for families or just someone who craves the extra practicality that’s missing in the hatchback.