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Mini Countryman: Lifestyle SUV with all-wheel drive being tested

Achim Hartmann
Mini Countryman
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D there are four buddies, four snowboards and two crates of beer. They want to go to the Alps together and look in frustration at a Mini Cooper S. It only becomes a good winter van if it is replaced by a BMW X1 shortly before departure.

That's how it was before. Because as cuddly as the little Mini may be, there is virtually no owner who does not end his expressions of sympathy with the words 'but the place'. And let's be honest: The Mini Clubman hasn't changed much about that either. So it is not blasphemy if the Mini brand also pushes a proper Maxi into the family with the Countryman - as long as the new one feels recognizably like a Mini.

Because when it comes to optics or driving behavior, the right feeling was ultimately the mainspring behind the great success of the Mini. Or do you know another reason why adults should spend more than 20,000 euros on a small car with the space of a larger women's handbag?

All-wheel drive only for top Mini Countryman models

Although there are also feelings that nobody would really miss: the tugging of the steering wheel as an expression of the front wheels helplessly hungry for grip, for example. Four driven wheels are a blessing. The Mini Countryman currently only has this for the top models Mini Cooper S and D.

When it comes to power distribution, the Mini Countryman does not follow the BMW path with emphasis on the rear in the test, because the Maxi-Mini is significantly more front-heavy than the parity balanced BMW is. Its electromagnetically operated center differential distributes the force 50:50. If the front tires of the Mini Countryman noticeably slip, up to 100 percent of the power is directed to the rear axle. Nevertheless, the 1.5-ton Countryman equipped with a hill start aid is not a giant in the field and also not in size.

All-wheel drive ensures excellent traction in the Mini Countryman

With its slightly more as an exterior length of four meters, the Countryman looks like a BMW X5 like Philip Lahm does next to Manuel Neuer. Like this one, the mini wants to scurry into the hearts of the fans. Which looks very ambitious with over 200 kilograms of extra weight and 15 centimeters of additional height to the base. But even a brisk curve in the Countryman is enough, and the swirling mini-feeling carries you away again - without dragging side effects. One curve after the other is the Mini Countryman with its electromechanicalSteering proposed, hooked without wedging, accelerated without spinning, and teaches Mini Cooper S drivers a foreign word in the wet: traction. The four-wheel drive of the Countryman looks like valerian for the otherwise hyperactive Mini-Art in the test. The driving dynamics measured values, however, reveal that there is a lack of lateral dynamics talent.

Mini Countryman as the basis for the WRC car

That such a tour in the Mini Countryman in the test is immensely fun is part of it certainly also the 1.6-liter turbo engine, which is spontaneously appealing for a turbo, has its share. The product of German development and French production throws the Mini Countryman with up to 184 PS casually forward, roars and whistles, motivated but unobtrusive. Only the rough clutch is annoying in the test, because a gentle start in the Countryman requires a talented left foot. That is the male side of the farmer, because he is bursting with strength and will to prove it. It is important to be the first at the next bend, and the information that the Mini Countryman is the basis of the upcoming Mini involvement in the World Rally Championship is even elementary for some in terms of image.

You can even find the back in the Countryman Adults enough space

But whoever drives the Mini Countryman, of course, has to sit in it. Perhaps it was expected too much, the XXL-Mini also combines its growth with an internal maturation process. But inside everything has somehow become a touch more Chinese Barbie. The huge, difficult to read speedometer is staring at you. The simple plastic surfaces look even more prominent in the Countryman because they are larger than in the base, and the menu of the multimedia system shines out in the wildest fashion colors.

There will probably be few opinions between 'that's cute' and 'oh dear'. Would the four buddies like that? Surely they would be enthusiastic about the space offered by the Countryman in the test. Because anyone who has already practiced in the back of the base in the Haxen-Oregami can hardly believe how much space the farmer offers. 1.90-meter guys swing easily through the rear door of the Countryman and sit very comfortably on the optional individual seats in the test. Even the chassis of the Mini Countryman has lost its youthful harshness, springs ambitiously and - yes, let's put it calmly - smoothly over dull roads. A mini for long-distance travel. Finally.

In the Countryman, design takes precedence over ergonomics

In the middle of the Countryman there is even a wide gap for sports equipment. This is followed directly by the aluminum center rail running lengthways through the interior (four-seater only), on which various brackets and shelves can be moved. A discussion about plastic quality would be an option here, but let's just leave it at special and practical.

In the test, however, the Countryman's trunk looks tighter than its base volume of 350 liters would suggest. Who the sliding rear seats afterfront pulls, receives 450 liters. Then long legs shouldn't be sensitive to pressure. Likewise, people who are sensitive to drafts are not happy with the Mini Countryman, because what flows out of the Mickey Ears fans can be felt. Just as the entire ergonomics seem to be subordinate to the interior design. Mini, the pop-art drops have been sucked, how about a Bauhaus seminar?

Test consumption noticeably below ten liters

The Countryman, the maxi among the minis, offers an evening-length Material for lively design discussions, this is how he pulls himself out of the affair surprisingly confidently when it comes to consumption in the test: Despite the additional weight, larger frontal area and increased internal friction due to the all-wheel drive, it consumed a minimum of just 6.8 liters and also in the test consumption noticeably less than ten liters . Even the brakes were completely unimpressed by the love handles in the test. The Mini Countryman does not have to fear the usual SUV side effects in terms of consumption and deceleration.

But the price list: 27,900 euros base and 36,330 euros test car price finally catapult the Mini Countryman out of the more popular regions. Objectively, the surcharge compared to a VW Tiguan is difficult to argue. So what, shout the fans, you buy a Mini with feeling. If he manages to hit that, the Countryman might also sell himself to his buddies.


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