BMW's Mini's Cooper S Countryman ALL4's design sets it apart from the competition
It’s compact, cute, nimble and fun to drive. That best describes the Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 subcompact crossover.
Mini, a brand of BMW, is also offered in Countryman, Cooper S Countryman, John Cooper Countryman ALL4, SE Countryman, new Oxford Edition and SE plug-in hybrid and in several more variants. We had the privilege of spending a week in the S Countryman ALL4 with its AWD traction abilities and a trait that’s needed here in the Snowbelt.
Mini’s design looks like no other. From its bug-eye headlamp assembly encircled with LED running lights to the racing stripes on the hood, the four door ALL4 looks sporty and is. It also sits a little higher with AWD which is helpful in modest snow depths or mild off-roads.
Mini’s interior is also different. The most eye-catching is the round 8.8-inch infotainment screen that sits smack dab in the middle of the vertical stack. It serves the audio, nav, rearview camera, operating functions and more. Optional is Apple CarPlay and Alexa.
Below it are large rotary HVAC gauges. Nothing fancy here just easy to view and use. And below is an array of toggle switches with a larger red one being the ignition switch. Going back to my flying days, the ignition switch is like the engine’s power switch for the plane I flew. One of the chromed switches in the array is the driving mode switch for selecting Sport, Mid or Green.
Mini also included a wireless phone charger in the console box top.
Atop the driver’s side dash is a heads-up-display that gives line-of-sight speed readouts and supplements the digital speedometer embedded within the oval gauge cluster.
The 8-speed automatic transmission shifter is what you’d find in BMWs with a “P” switch for park gear, and paddle shifters for those who prefer shifting for themselves. It comes standard with the 2.0-liter engine.
Adjacent is a controller for display selections and should only be used when not driving as it temporarily takes the eyes off the road.
Mini’s digital gauge cluster is also round with a driver information display within it that shows driving mode selections, alerts, functions and more.
Heated front seats have a classy quilted design, are comfy and nicely supportive with under thigh extension that’s nice to have on long trips.
Back seats are equally as comfy with decent leg room for two adults provided the fronts aren’t racked well rearward. Dual (panoramic) sunroofs (fore and aft) offer a sky view for rear seat passengers.
Mini’s cargo area is quite spacious for a subcompact. With seats up, it offers 17.6 cubic feet of space that measures 28.5 inches deep, 39 wide and 29 high. Flip the seatbacks and capacity increases to 47.6 cubic feet for 59 inches of cargo loading depth. And beneath the cargo floor is a 6-inch deep bin for small item storage.
Depending on the model selected, Mini Countryman is offered with one of four powertrains. Our test car came with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged inline-4 with 189-hp and 207-lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of 23 city, 31-highway mpg. Want more power? The John Cooper Works Countryman gets a 2.0-liter turbo inline-4 with a whopping 301-hp and 331 lb/ft of torque. For the Eco minded, there’s the 1.5L, turbo inline-3 with rear-mounted electric motor for a combined 224-hp. With battery power only, the Mini has a reported range of up to 17 miles. I have a hunch Mini may be debuting an all-electric version probably sometime this year.
With the 2.0L turbo tested, acceleration was robust and according to Mini, it does the 0-60 dash in an admirable 7.1 seconds. When selecting Sport mode, rpm’s increase about 500 for livelier performance. There’s certainly no want for power.
As a BMW brand, handling is a given. The Countryman has athletic abilities and can be tossed in the turns and it remains planted. It’s truly fun to drive.
Now for the bad news. The Mini we tested was void of many safety features like rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning and others. It did come with a host of standard features such as tire pressure monitoring and a few more.
The test car started life at $33,900 but escalated after adding the Iconic trim package ($8,000) that includes such items like head up display, satellite radio, panoramic sunroof and a long list of other non-essentials. To that was added silver roof and mirror caps ($100); silver bonnet stripes ($100); privacy glass ($500). Along with delivery ($850), it took the bottom line to $43,450. There are a several narrowly comparable cars that offer more for substantially less money. Of course you’re not necessarily getting German build and precision that’s customary with BMW vehicles.
As a second car, or for unmarried twenty-something drivers, the Mini Countryman could be a good fit. It could also serve as an eventual transition to a BMW x-Drive sedans or crossovers.
Mini comes with a 12 year/Unlimited mileage rust perforation warranty; 4/50K limited warranty; 4/Unlimited roadside assistance coverage.
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