Mini Cooper Countryman
Known for its unmistakably iconic styling and lively handling, the quirky Mini brand applies this blueprint to the Countryman. It shares its platform with the 10 Best-winning BMW X1, which lends a refined ride and a spacious rear seat. Its retro exterior and funky interior are uniquely Mini, however, with a myriad of custom options. But this cute ute isn’t merely trendy transit, thanks to a sprightly chassis, which gets the sport-tuned treatment on Cooper S versions. Available with front- or all-wheel drive, the lineup has a trio of turbocharged engines: a 134-hp inline-three, a 189-hp inline-four, and an all-new plug-in hybrid powertrain (221 horses combined). Best of all, most non hybrids have a standard six-speed manual transmission; six- or eight-speed automatics are optional. While Mini’s funkiness isn’t for the mainstream, the Countryman definitely puts the fun in functional.
What’s New for 2018?
The company adds its first ever plug-in hybrid (called the Cooper S E Countryman All4) to the lineup for 2018. It has an EPA-estimated electric-only range of 12 miles and represents the top-of-the-line model; the high-performance John Cooper Works Countryman is reviewed separately. Other updates include the newly available Apple CarPlay (Android Auto is still absent). The previously optional driver-attention monitor becomes standard, as does a backup camera. Inside, Mini has made mild revisions to the fuel gauge, the head-up display’s on/off control, and the drive-mode selector, which has been changed from a rotary adjustment at the base of the gearshift lever to a toggle switch on the center stack. Manual lumbar support is no longer available with certain upholstery combinations. Oh, and the elastic strap on the left side of the cargo area has been dropped from the Convenience package. Don’t cancel your order yet—the right-side elastic strap is still included.
What Was New for 2017?
Although it may not have looked very different from its predecessor, the new Countryman received an entirely new chassis that is shared with the wagonlike Mini Cooper Clubman and the BMW X1. The redesign increased the Countryman’s length by 7.8 inches and wheelbase by 2.9 inches, which improved interior space and cargo volume. For 2017, the Cooper’s standard 121-hp 1.6-liter inline-four was replaced by a 134-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-three, and a feature previously not offered on the base model—an all-wheel-drive system that Mini calls All4—became optional. The sportier Cooper S also adopts a new, more powerful turbocharged inline-four (swapping the 181-hp 1.6-liter for a 189-hp 1.5-liter).
Options We’d Choose
The Countryman has one of the cheapest base prices in this segment, but it’s saddled with a wimpy 134-hp three-cylinder. We prefer the more powerful and sportier Cooper S version, which starts at $32,050 (all-wheel drive adds $500; the eight-speed automatic is standard). The Cooper S E plug-in hybrid is much quicker and more efficient, but it costs about $38,000 before options. We think the Cooper S Countryman All4 manual is the best option. Its standard features include 18-inch wheels, ambient lighting, heated front sport seats, a panoramic sunroof, passive entry, and rear parking sensors. And unlike the front-wheel-drive Cooper S, it comes standard with a six-speed manual; the automatic is a $1500 option. With a slew of optional packages and countless personalized accessories available, the Countryman’s price can escalate quickly. While the custom bits are best left to the individual’s whims, we’d add:
• Technology package (8.8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, head-up display, parking assist, and wireless charging) for $2250
• Convenience package (alarm system, folding cargo floor, fold-down rear-seat armrest, extra 12-volt outlet) for $750
• Dynamic Damper Control (adaptive suspension) for $500
• Power liftgate ($500)
The final cost of our all-wheel-drive Mini Cooper S Countryman is $36,550. That’s right around the starting prices of less polarizing rivals such as the BMW X1 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA-class. But those who seek a more fashionable mode of transportation should consider the Mini.