By on August 11, 2012

MINI is the most unlikely successful new brand in America. Why? Because the brand’s “tiny transportation” ethos is at odds with America’s “bigger is better” mantra. Of course, these contradictory philosophies explain why the modern MINI is nowhere near as mini as Minis used to be. Still with me? Hang on to your hats because the German owners of the iconic British brand have decided American domination hinges on making the biggest MINI yet. Enter the MINI Countryman. Or as I like to call it, the MINI Maxi.

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Exterior

The outside of the Countryman is full of firsts. It is the first MINI with 5 doors, the first MINI with available AWD, the first MINI longer than 13-feet. And the most dubious honor of all, the first MINI to weigh over 3,000lbs. To be exact, our Countryman S All4 weighed in at 3,220lbs. MINI fans will note this is 655lbs heavier than a two-door Cooper S. The MINI maximization makes the Countryman look like somebody was inflating a MINI balloon and forgot to say “when.” Your opinions will vary, but this overinflated MINI is quite attractive to my eye. From the perky round headlights to the signature hood scoop and the optional sport stripes, nobody will confuse the Countryman for anything-but a MINI.

Interior

A logical shopper would look at the Countryman and assume four doors equals five seats. Not so fast. Keeping with MINI tradition, the Countryman is a four passenger vehicle at heart, and on the lot. A quick search revealed that between the four local MINI dealers, only six of the 134 Countryman CUVs were equipped with the $250 fifth seat option. Availability aside, the middle seat should be thought of as an “emergency” seat due to the narrow proportions of the Countryman. Adding that fifth seat causes another unexpected problem: no rear cup holders. You see, the Countryman uses an interesting center “rail” system that normally stretches from the instrument panel to the rear seat backs. The rails allow you to snap-on various accessories like storage boxes, phone holders, sunglasses storage and most crucially; cup holders. Family minded shoppers should keep in mind that the rear door pockets won’t hold fast-food style sodas. In compensation for the rear amenities, the Countryman offers three times the cargo space of the Cooper with the seats up (16.5 cubic feet) and twice with the seats folded (41.3 cubic feet.)

As with all MINI models, a low rent headliner coexists with snazzy switches, rich leather upholstery, a thick rimmed steering wheel and an occasional smattering of hard plastics. Style rather than luxury is what MINI is all about, as is made most obvious by the ginormous “Disneyesque” speedometer/infotainment/HVAC vent cluster. Practical folks will find the switchgear positioned too low in the dashboard for comfort (it’s an eyes-on-the-road nightmare), but the look is undeniably swish and unlikely to bother the MINI faithful.

Infotainment

Frugal shoppers should skip this section as MINI infotainment price tags are far from mini. All Countryman models start with MINI’s AM/FM/XM/HD Radio/CD unit. Should you want some iDevice love and a Bluetooth speakerphone, add $500 to your tab. An additional $500 (or $250 if you planned to get the armrest anyway) gets you the MINI Connected system sans nav. MINI Connected is BMW’s iDrive (circa 2011) adapted to the smaller screen and MINImalist controls. As with BMW’s iPhone app, you can Tweet, Facebook, stream internet radio, Google, and view some extra “sport” themed instrumentation on the LCD.

MINI takes “the app thing” to a new level with “Dynamic Music” and “Mission Control.” Dynamic Music plays digitized, beat-heavy, music that changes as you drive. Speed up and the tempo increases while the system adds more instruments. Flip your turn signal on and cymbals start ringing out of the speaker on the side that you’re indicating. Mission Control plays canned phrases in stereotypical British accents in response to driver inputs. Floor the MINI and the system says “fulllll throttle!” Press the Sport button and several canned voices have a conversation about sporty driving. While it is entertaining for a day or two, I can’t imagine owners using this app daily.

Like a gateway drug, once you have MINI Connected, it’s hard to say no to the $750 nav up-sell. Once you have the nav, the $750 Harman/Kardon speakers aren’t a huge leap. After all that’s been added, your MINI sales rep will tell you “if you select the Technology Package you can add the parking sensors for half price” ($250.) Total up-sell: $2,750. “Ain’t technology grand?

Drivetrain

Under the hood you will fine the same engines as the rest of the MINI lineup. The base 1.6L engine is good for 121HP and 114lb-ft. As you would expect, pitting 121HP against 3,000lbs results in leisurely acceleration. Our tester was the “Cooper S” which means direct-injection and a turbocharger have been added to bring power up to 181HP and twist to 177lb-ft from 1,600-5,000RPM. MINI’s turbo engine employs an “overboost” feature to bump torque to 192lb-ft from 1,700-4,500RPM under certain conditions for a limited time. Either engine is mated to a standard 6-speed Getrag manual or an optional 6-speed Aisin automatic.

Once you’ve selected the option box for the turbo engine, you have access to the $1,700 Haldex AWD system dubbed “ALL4.” The system is essentially the same as other Haldex implementations and uses a wet clutch pack in place of a center differential. The clutch unlocks during low-speed maneuvers for better handling feel, locks completely during hard acceleration, and varies the connection depending on traction requirements. MINI tells us the system is programmed to keep the clutch pack connected more often than competing systems to improve feel.

MINI has confirmed that 2013 will bring some JCW love to the Countryman. The engine will be the same 1.6L direct-injection turbo as the S model, with the boost cranked to the maximum. MINI has yet to release power figures, but expect it to slot in around 220HP.

Drive

Expectations are important in drive reviews. If you expect the Countryman to drive like a regular MINI despite having AWD, seating for five and a large cargo area, you’ll be disappointed. When the road gets twisty, the Countryman responds exactly like an AWD MINI that’s been jacked up a couple of inches and gained 26% in weight. That being said, expecting the Countryman to handle like a Cooper means you’re missing the point. Compared to the premium CUVs on the market however, the MINI is small, nimble and tight in the corners bringing the classic MINI feel to a CUV. The ride height increase and greater suspension articulation make the Countryman lean in corners but the tradeoff is the ability to tackle some soft-roads when required.

The addition of the Haldex AWD system takes away the perverse pleasure I find in torque steer, but enthusiast drivers will appreciate the change. Enthusiast drivers will also appreciate the fact the ALL4 system makes the Countryman far more neutral than the other MINIs when applying throttle in the bends. Don’t get me wrong, this MINI is still nose-heavy and will head for the grass like a wild horse if you push it too hard, but I wonder what a JCW Cooper hatch with AWD would be like.

MINI has never been known to make fast cars, they make quick cars. As you would expect, 655lbs more car, an additional passenger and twice the cargo causes forward progress to fall from swift to average. A run to 60 took 6.89 seconds with overboost and 7.3 without, which is about the same range as a Camry… Hybrid. Ouch. If you have a need for more speed, MINI has announced that 2013 will bring a JCW Countryman that will hit 60 in a claimed 6.6 seconds, or 0.6 seconds slower than a V6 Camry.

When the Countryman arrived, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. As MINIs go, this thing is huge, but as crossovers go, it’s quite MINI. If you want a German vehicle with British styling, mild off-road prowess, four doors and four seats, this is the vehicle for you. It’s also the American-sized MINI destined to introduce the brand to a wider variety of shoppers. There are only two problems. The first is price. While the Countryman may start at $22,450, the S should be the real base model at $26,050. Why get the CUV if you don’t get AWD?  We’re up to $27,750. Add the minimum in gadgetry and you’re over $30,000. With pricing like this, styling becomes the only reason to buy a MINI Countryman over BMW’s own internal competition: the BMW X1.

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MINI provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested:

0-30: 2.46 Seconds

0-60: 6.89 Seconds

1/4 Mile:  15.38 Seconds @ 88.8 MPH

Average fuel economy: 24.9 over 248 miles

 

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54 Comments on “Review: 2012 MINI Cooper S Countryman All4...”


  • avatar
    european

    that center dash looks like mickey mouse’s head.
    disney should ask for royalties.
    (edit: ha! just scanned thru the review. even the author made a similar point)

    anyways, the mini is getting old & boring.
    bmw should rethink the brand or kill it.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    The wife looked at one of these when they first debuted. We test drove a few and were left unimpressed for a number of reasons. For over $30k, here’s what you DON’T get…

    1. A Decent Interior. Plastics are awful, the seats were uncomfortable, and it doesn’t look much different than the MINI that debuted last decade.

    2. Power Seats. Seriously, no one wants to slide a damn seat up with a metal lever to get comfortable in a “PREMIUM” car.

    3. A standard speedo cluster (I know all MINI’s have the big speedo, still annoying)

    4. A Decent Navi system. In short, the system in the MINI sucks.

    Honestly, you’d do better buying a Ford Escape Titanium or a 4WD V6 Toyota RAV4 with your $.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    “Don’t get me wrong, this MINI is still nose-heavy and will head for the grass like a wild horse if you push it too hard,”

    Reminds me of the great line in describing excessive torque-steer in an overpowered FWD car (don’t remember which one) by saying it was like yelling, “Squirrel!” to a Rotweiler.

    As to the Countryman All4, seems like it will appeal to MINI devotees whose family has grown and will settle specifically for a MINI-branded CUV and nothing else (and have the funds to pay for it), but that’s about it.

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    I think the Juke is the real competition for this car. And I think the Juke wins with a better AWD system, much lower pricing, and more interesting styling. Plus the Juke actually handles really well and the torque vectoring is pretty cool.

    • 0 avatar

      Or, for that same $30k, you can buy a Kia Sportage SX AWD with Nav and the 260 HP GDI engine, lots of bells and whistles, really good handling and a real back seat.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve tested both the the AWD and FWD versions of the Sportage. While the AWD handles better than the FWD (and is less likely to engage the intrusive and infuriating stability control), and while I gave them positive reviews, I would not characterize them as having “really good handling”. Acceptable for normal driving, but hardly “really good”.

      • 0 avatar

        Okay Ronnie, maybe not “great,” like my NB Miata, and maybe I just don’t get the whole concept of an expanded, lifted MINI. But, when we compared the Kia’s handling to others in its class last year, “really good” worked well and still does through the twisties on Hwy 4 every week.

        I guess it’s a bit of a trade-off, and maybe it’s a fact that those that shop MINI wouldn’t even consider a Kia.

      • 0 avatar
        Signal11

        I dunno, Joe. I’ve driven a couple Sportage Type Rs. I have to agree with Ronnie here. The Countryman handles better than any other 5 door hatchback/compact CUVs out there (haven’t driven the BMW X1 or the Juke). The Countryman and the Sportage are worlds apart when it comes to the mountain tracks.

        The Sportage TLX R and the Veloster T were high on my list before my employer refused to cosign/help pay for a “domestic” car.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      I haven’t sat in the Countryman yet, but both I and my wife sat in the Juke, took one look over our shoulder, and said “no way”. This appears to have at least the potential for functional rear visibility. I don’t care if one car is objectively “better” than another. I care that the one I pick suits my needs. “Good enough” is good enough. I don’t expect that all features be the “best”, since that’s impossible.

      You like the styling of the Juke more? Great. For me, it’s more important that I be able to back out of my driveway without having to roll the dice and pray nobody is coming.

    • 0 avatar
      kgelner

      I test drove a Juke before buying the Countryman. A few of my thoughts from that test drive:

      1) I needed an automatic drive (I prefer stick but my wife wanted to drive the car also). The MINI automatic drive is worlds better than the wormy CVT that the Juke has as it’s only option (from what I remember, the Juke doesn’t come in a stick for AWD). As part of the test drive, the sales person had me drive to the bottom of a hill and stop – then floor it. I waited for what felt like an eternity for anything to happen. By contrast the Countryman with sport mode engaged responds pretty quickly, and you have paddle shifters that you can switch into a manual like mode.

      2) In theory the Juke had a better AWD system for corners (it can vary power to each side). But in reality you’d be hard pressed to feel the effect, and the MINI system was great for more practical concerns for things like snow/ice/mud.

      3) The MINI steering is SO much more crisp and direct. Some people may not like crisp steering, but I personally cannot do without it.

      4) Try sitting in the back of a Countryman, and then in the back of a Juke. In fact although the Juke has OK legroom in the rear, even the smallest MINI will yield way more headroom than you have in the rear of the Juke. I also felt like the Countryman had a lot more practical cargo area.

      I actually really liked the Juke styling (I know some others do not) and it would have perhaps won out the comparison if it had been more fun the drive… but the loose steering and the awful CVT combined to really put me off the Juke altogether.

  • avatar

    “Mission Control plays canned phrases in stereotypical British accents in response to driver inputs. Floor the MINI and the system says “fulllll throttle!””

    A sophisticated version of a Chrysler K-car telling you “A door is a jar”.

    • 0 avatar
      oldfatandrich

      The whole MINI project brings to mind Lido’s machinations with his K platform. How many MINI iterations have we now ? And don’t forget to include that fugly coupe—or whatever they call it—which was brought to market a short while back. MINIs are grossly overpriced go-karts which will be the stuff of HBS case studies twenty years hence. If I’m in the market for a toy car, I’ll order up an infinitely more comfortable FIAT 500 Arbath for many fewer dollars. Drive one—you’ll be quite amazed.

  • avatar
    word is bond

    You accidentally called it the Clubman instead of the Countryman a few times in the “Drive” section. A bit confusing.

    Edit: It’s also really stupid that they call this the Mini Cooper Countryman All4. Why is the Cooper in there?

    • 0 avatar
      Tony C

      They’re ALL Coopers.

      Cooper Hardtop
      Cooper Cabrio
      Cooper Clubman
      Cooper Countryman
      Cooper Coupe
      Cooper Spyder

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        It’s a corner BMW painted themselves into when they first brought the car to the US. They left behind the base “One”, and brought only the “Cooper” (mid) and “Cooper S” (top) models. (The 4th rung JCW was added later.) Since then, all 2nd rung versions are called “Cooper” and all 3rd rung are “Cooper S”. It’s one of the drawbacks of trying to create an entire brand out of a single model name.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    They are selling the living crap out of these things in Northern New Jersey. I literally can’t go anywhere without seeing one.

  • avatar
    Signal11

    Mine’s blue, with a white roof and stripes. I realized the other day that it’s decidedly…. Smurfy.

    My primary employment is in Korea and when I arrived a few months ago, I decided that I had no desire to drive a large car, which in Korea is much more closely associated with social status than it is back in the states or western Europe. My employers actually forbade me and refused to cosign for the Veloster Turbo I had in mind.

    I didn’t want a sports coupe, to which a Genesis Coupe would have been the easy answer and that left me with a choice between “sporty,” “premium” import hatchbacks: VW Scirocco R-Line, Peugot 207 GT, Volvo C30, and Mini Cooper Ss in various forms.

    The Scirocco R was the best handling, fastest and quickest of the bunch. I had the salesman who came out to offer me a test drive Plain, but not cheap interior.

    Peugot 207 GT (and 308 CC). Bleh. That’s all I’ll say about the Peugots.

    The C30 had the nicest interior and the most comfortable seats. I didn’t get to test drive the Volvo but it didn’t really matter because the car didn’t really speak to me as a driver.

    Of all the Minis that I drove, the Countryman S stood out as being the most practical while maintaining a small car feel and overall Mini-like driving dynamics. As Alex pointed out, if you’re expecting that cliche Cooper S kart feeling, you’ll be disappointed. OTOH, this is as close as you’ll get in a five door hatch.

    A couple notes in no particular order:

    Again, as Alex pointed out, the regular 121 HP Countryman is a fail. About two months into my ownership, I noticed a sloshing sound when braking and accelerating – water had made its way into the chassis and actually got into the cabin and soaked my carpet. Evidently, this is a known issue with Countrymans. As a loaner, the dealership offered me a 5 series if I could wait a two days. Because I didn’t have time, I took the only loaner they had immediately available, a base Countryman. Wow. With 33% less power, the base Countryman is all thunder, no lightning. Avoid.

    This leads to a note about MINI reliability. D-. I already have an undiagnosed check-engine issue after only three months with the car, my AC is losing it’s cool and my brakes pull to the right.

    I have a third party nav, which is mounted on the behind the tacho mount usually reserved for dealer installed performance gauges (boost pressure, Gs) and it’s much better than the center dashboard nav system I’ve used in US MINIs. The screen is directly above my right hand and is better placed than the center main console, which is also useless, speedo and all. I use the digital speedo centered on the tach and the speed indicator on my navi.

    Seats – I have the sports seats. Not very comfortable for long drives, but that’s a non-issue for me as 3-4 hours in any direction on a highway = ocean. Bench seats are standard here and the split back seats with a center rail weren’t available when I bought the car so my rare back seat passengers are stuck putting their drink bottles in the car door pockets.

    The interior, as has been pointed out, is that strange combination of cheap and cool. The headliners are awful. The plastics look and feel cheap. I actually had a kid riding in the back seat tell me that the Mickey Mouse center was cool. I don’t know I feel about that. OTOH, women love my car, especially at night.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      Interesting post. I had assumed, based on some of the usual xenophobic rants posted on this site, that South Korea actively discouraged the import of foreign cars to their shores. But you had a choice of MINI, Peugeot, VW, Volvo, BMW, etc.

      Any US made vehicles available? My guess is no, because Detroit was never much good at exporting them, preferring to buy a local manufacturer instead.

      • 0 avatar
        Signal11

        Well, there’s something like a 20% import duty for all foreign cars. I paid roughly 25% over what I would have paid back in the states for the Countryman S and would have done the same for all the other cars I shopped as well. Well, except for the Scirocco R-Line and the Peugots, which aren’t available stateside.

        GM/Chevy/Daewoo is a decent minority here but they’re mostly locally made. I see a lot of Aveos, Cruzes and Malibus driving around, in that order, as well as the occasional Alpheon, which is a rebadged Buick Lacrosse.

        I don’t know if Ford has plants here, but I do see Fusions and Tauruses around.

        The only Chryslers I’ve seen are 300Cs and only very, very rarely.

        OTOH, it seems I can’t flick a cigarette butt without hitting an Audi or a BMW. And I live in a mid sized city in a relatively underdeveloped part of Korea.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    I’m a ’05 MINI Cooper S owner that became a dad yesterday. The Countryman was on our short list for “family” car, along with the Lexus CT200h. We LOVE our MINI, but the test drive of the Countryman didn’t sell us. I enjoyed driving it, but it didn’t do the “mini” thing as well as the MCS we already have. We’re also in the fortunate position of being able to keep the MCS as an additional fun car. So, it seemed redundant. If we had to outright replace the MINI with a family car, we’d probably have purchased the Countryman. Oddly enough, the Prius v came out of left field as the family car winner. Slower, way less fun, but it better filled out the family car duties.

    • 0 avatar
      NN

      Congrats! As a father of a 1 year old and a 2 year old, I think the Prius V makes a good family car…much more so than any Mini. I’m 6’3″, so if you are taller than 5’10″, then I’d say you need a decent size family car. I have a good friend who bought a new Volvo S40 right as they had a new baby, and they traded it in within a year because it was too small. Those rear facing child seats are massive. so longer wheelbase vehicles usually are much better in the back seat.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        I’m 5’8″, so the back seat has plenty of room for the infant seat. I’d agree, though, with taller drivers. If the v weren’t a wagon, something like an Camcord is a better choice due to the great rear seat room.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Too bad nature couldn’t have held off for about six months when production of the Ford C-Max hybrid is in full swing. Early reviews seem to indicate the C-Max is going to eat the v’s lunch.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Cmax is smaller than the v and I’m pretty certain that the mileage won’t be appreciably better than the v (judging by the Cmax’s worse frontal area, same drag coefficient, 400 extra lbs, wider tires, and bigger engine*, I imagine that 47mpg rating will be tough to repeat in the real world). Knowing what I know now, if anything, I’d pick something bigger than even the v for the baby chariot, rather than going a hair smaller like the Cmax.

        *After reading countless reviews of the 41mpg rated Fusion hybrid and 35mpg rated previous gen Camry hybrid returning almost identical real world mileage, I’m pretty convinced that Ford’s system running up to ~60mph on the electric motor games the EPA tests better than Toyota’s system that only runs all battery up to ~40mph.

        Guess who is up at 3:00AM feeding. Ha

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        In what dimensions are the C-Max smaller than the v, interior or exterior? The last review I read (maybe here) seemed to indicate that in almost all interior dimensions, the C-Max bested the v.

        Toyota dropped the ball with the v (at least in comparison with the standard Prius). The only interior dimension where the v is better than the standard is all the way back where the standard has a sloping hatch and the v has the traditional, upright clamshell.

        Other than that, the v is really no better than the standard. Toyota did their typical decontenting with the v in that it does not have folding rear headrests, the rear seats don’t fold flat (this may be a compromise so the rear seats can slide fore and aft), there is no solar sunroof option, and the v is slower and gets worse fuel mileage, all for thousands more than a comparably equipped and sized (in length, anyway) standard Prius.

        That’s not to say that the v is not practical and a better choice than the All4. I’m just hopeful it won’t be better than the C-Max. Frankly, it’s about time someone got their act together to come up with some real competition for Toyota in a market they’ve virtually owned for the last decade.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        V has 10 cu ft more of cargo area (34 v 24). The passenger dimensions are practically the same with a slight edge to the Cmax because it is more upright. I find the v plenty roomy inside so add’l passenger space does me no big favors. Cargo space, though, is hugely important. My v’s rear seats fold flat but it is a moot point when the carseat means that I will rarely ever fold them anyway.

        I tried to talk myself into a standard Prius, but I’m a cargo space junky. The v pretty much allows me to leave my 4Runner parked unless I absolutely want 4WD.

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        Well, like I said, the extra cubic feet in the v versus the standard is way back in the rear where the roof is higher. I’m not saying it’s not there, the extra space may just be somewhere a lot of consumers might not find that useful.

        And you need to check out the way the standard Prius’ seats fold down. They go down a whole lot ‘flatter’ than the v but the trade-off is likely due to the standard not having fore/aft rear seat adjustment.

        Additionally, the v has plastic, protective inserts on the backs of the rear seats (the standard just has carpeting). Again, if that’s what you’re looking for (and are willing to pay thousands more to get it), swell, but I want rear seats that fold flat as much as possible, and the standard beats the v in this department (and my guess would be the C-Max will do the same).

  • avatar
    Sam P

    My wife – who bought a 2012 Cooper hatch new last summer – calls it Mini’s version of a Subaru Forester.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    Two things; The Mini should be left “as is”, the original Cooper.
    The Mini is too expensive to buy because of logical reasons, it´s more of a lifestyle car.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    Besides the obvious answer (that in the US, anything is better with a lift kit), I wonder why Mini raised the car? The AWD on the Mini Clubman, and maybe even the 5 door body, but with the tradition nice low CoG Mini body would seem to have been the drivers choice, although probably not the buyers choice.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      In the real world, the raised ride height has nothing to do with the “off road/soft road” aspirations buyers use to pretend to themselves that they aren’t buying a station wagon. It’s about raising the eye level of the driver for better sightlines, and raising the seat cushion for easier entry.

    • 0 avatar
      kgelner

      The higher body does have real practical use. In snow you have more clearance before you are snowplowing. And I have used mine on forest roads in Colorado that would have been too rocky for a base MINI. It’s not much higher, but it’s enough to be practical for times when AWD may be useful.

      You’d be surprised at how many Countrymen owners do in fact enjoy dirt roads. It’s not like other SUVs that never leave asphalt… some of that comes from the MINI rally heritage, owners are more open to rough roads.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    “…opinions will vary, but this overinflated MINI is quite attractive to my eye. From the perky round headlights to the signature hood scoop and the optional sport stripes…”

    I’m of the opinion that the only things in life that I want perky and round aren’t found on a MINI.

  • avatar
    Davelee123

    “Or as I like to call it, the MINI Maxi”

    There was an Austin Maxi designed by Issigonis himself.

  • avatar
    Steve65

    “A run to 60 took 6.89 seconds with overboost and 7.3 without, which is about the same range as a Camry… Hybrid. Ouch.”

    Really? Seriously? A sub-seven second 0-60 is inadequate, in an urban runabout with no “high performance” aspirations whatsoever? Get real.

    Can we please get over the obsession with declaring the shortest time ‘best’, and any slower time ‘not good enough’? The vast majority of acceleration events are limited not by power or gearing, but by what the car in front of you is doing. If that person isn’t obsessed with pissing away gas money by playing street racer, your 0-60 time is going to be about 20 seconds, assuming you get to 60 before the next stoplight. And if you can’t get to the top of a normal onramp at highway speed in a vehicle with a 10-second 0-60 time, you’re incompetent and shouldn’t be driving on public roads. 7 seconds is beyond adequate, and well into pointless.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The alternative to 7 seconds being slow would be conceding that the Camry Hybrid’s drivetrain is brilliant, seeing as it returns diesel efficiency with 2.0 turbo performance.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      I agree with your overall point, but your position is a little extreme. I believe my ’08 Honda Pilot is rated at something under 9 seconds to 60. That’s really about as slow as I would like. 20 seconds to reach 60? You gotta be kidding.

      Our Saab 95 Aero wagon was, IIRC, rated about about 7 seconds to 60; and I never felt the need for any more power. That appears to be about the same as this car, so I agree with your criticism of the review’s “ouch” characterization, whether it’s the same as a hybrid Camry or not.

      The other issue, not mentioned in your post, is that some people still drive on 2-lanes; and it’s nice to be able to pass a slow truck in less than a mile and a half.

  • avatar
    carguy

    This car is really only for devoted Mini fans as it isn’t cheap and doesn’t really do anything better than the competition. If you want a quirky AWD CUV get a Juke, if you want luxury get an X1 and if you want high tech, reasonable handling and room for the family – get an Escape Titanium.

  • avatar
    wmba

    My new metric for lightweight construction is the new Altima. C/D weighed a new loaded model with power everything, sunroof and enough sound-deadening to give a 71db maximum noise at full throttle. Just 3102 lbs.

    By this standard, the MINI at 3220 is morbidly obese, despite perhaps 100 lbs of Haldex guess which wheel drive. The new Cadillac ATS at 3340 is just OK, and the Subaru BRZ at 2784 somewhat portly.

    It’ll be interesting to see how weight reduction fares in other makes. Ford hasn’t got the message with the new Escape, and the Cruze weighs as much as the Altima, with the Verona trying to hide its love handles at a further hundred.

    The Altima weighs about 300 lbs less than its competition, and each fewer pound probably is worth at least 50 cents in purchase cost to Nissan. Pretty clever, especially compared to this clown car. It’s personal, but I don’t like MINIs at all. And yes, I’ve driven several.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      The ’13 Altima is indeed a paragon of lightness. But let’s not go overboard here- 3200lb is not bad at all for an AWD CUV/wagon. Aside from the Subaru Impreza, I doubt you could find another AWD that weighs less than 3200lb.

  • avatar
    Ishwa

    My wife is absolutely not in the least interested by cars, the Batmobile could drive by with batman waving and she wouldn’t even see it. Yet she noticed one of these in the parking lot and described: “that looks like a clown car”. I had to laugh.

    Its likely fairly decent I bet, I just can’t get over its dimensions -It looks like a lifted, beefy mini cooper. Isn’t it supposed to be, well, mini?

  • avatar
    Tony C

    ALL4 is NOT manufactured by Haldex. It’s manufactured by GKN Driveline.

    http://www.motoringfile.com/2011/08/16/minis-all4-system-in-depth/
    http://www.motoringfile.com/2011/12/16/minis-all4-system-clarified/

  • avatar
    shark715

    We’ve owned an All4 for about 2 ½ months. It’s my GF’s daily driver, and after driving a Cooper S hardtop for 9 nine years/150k miles, there was not much out there that interested her other than the Countryman.

    She loves small cars, but she needed something a bit larger that could occasionally carry 3 or 4 people without having to apologize to the ones having to sit in the rear seat. The AWD availability was a big plus for the frequent ski trips we take to northern New England. And she also has a very strong preference for a manual transmission, so that in itself made for a very short list of alternatives.

    She wanted something that came as close as possible to the nimble go kart handling of her old car. Like the enthusiast publications have said, there’s just no other CUV out there that comes this close to driving like a sports car. Other than the new X1, we’ve driven them all. To be fair, both of us place a higher priority on handling than most. We own a Porsche Carrera, and are former Lotus Elise owners.

    One other point that I don’t think anyone mentioned…if you don’t need all wheel drive, The Cooper S Countryman offers even better handling, will save you $1700, and gets slightly better mileage and is a bit quicker due to being 150 lbs. lighter.

    Yep, there’s no question that people don’t buy Minis because you get a big bang for your buck. The option list can put the price of the Countryman (and any other Mini/BMW product, for that matter) into the stratosphere. The MSRP on ours was $34,850.

    Other than the front seats and steering wheel, the ergonomics are not good. Thankfully there’s now a digital speed read out in the tachometer pod. And the comments above regarding the lack of a power seat and decent Navi system (we have it) are spot on. The clutch and shifter are no where as sporty as our old Cooper S. Finally, like most European nameplates, Mini has never been known as a trouble free car.

    Like someone above, I thought the Countryman would appeal primarily to prior Mini owners. But we spoke to 5 dealers when we were shopping for our car, and they all said the majority of buyers are NOT former Mini owners…they are buyers that were long interested in Minis, but the prior offerings were too small for their needs…interesting. An unscientific poll of about two dozen other Countryman owners we have met bears this out, although there were plenty of prior Mini owners like ourselves.

    Look at BMW’s sales figures for the Countryman, and especially the % of total unit sales in the U.S. that are Countryman versus the entire brand. Quite remarkable for a vehicle that appears to not make sense for the masses and is selling at a premium price point.

    But we didn’t buy the Countryman because it made sense. We bought it because it was what my GF liked and wanted, and she absolutely loves it. Candidly, the sensible choice for us would have been a Subaru Forester. But if you are a driver who appreciates a nimble handling car, the Countryman will put a smile on your face.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Our ’05 MCS has a digital speedo in the middle of the tachometer. It toggles between speed and outside temperature. Honestly, the ergonomics don’t bother me at all in the MINI. It takes a week or so to figure out where everything is and life moves on. You’re too busy smiling and shifting gears to worry about ergo in a MINI anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Signal11

      I’ve rented Mini Coopers Ss before, at SFO. They’re incredibly fun, but they’re only for when I’m traveling alone or if I know I only have one passenger with me. (It always comes down to the Camaro SS or Cooper S when I’m traveling solo.)

      I disagree with you on the All4 vs the S. I bought my S only because the All4 was unavailable for another 1.5 months and I needed a vehicle pronto. I took a drive in the mountain twisties with the Countryman S All4 during a test drive event about 1.5 months ago and preferred the handling of the All4. I don’t feel I have to fight the understeer as much. Of all the Cooper Ss I’ve driven, which includes the Cooper S and the Coupe S, I feel the CM All4 (with Sport Suspension) has the best feel, especially when going uphill.

    • 0 avatar
      mstover

      I’m one of those people Shark715 talks about. I’ve been driving a Subaru for year. I’ve had a 2.5XT outback for my last 150k miles and now am need of a replacement. My wife has the latest outback with a 3.6 liter engine…great car, but HUGE. I wanted another turbo. Yeah the forester has one, but it only has a 4 speed transmission. I have wanted a mini since I drove my first one in Germany in 1990, but I live in the mountains outside of Denver Colorado and they are only practical about 5 months of the year (if lucky). The countryman all4 is an absolute kick to drive and is big enough to do most of what I need to do now that my kids are nearly grown…no car seats, no soccer gear, no softball gear etc. It’s plenty big even for a load from Costco with the seats down. I know it’s not exactly the most practical car, nor the cheapest, but of the cars I’ve test driven, it’s by far the most fun. I know I could get something cheaper that could go through snow and be just like everyone else here in the area like I’ve always done before, but for once I want to do as Steve Jobs suggested years ago…think different. It’s my turn to have some fun for a change.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I predicted years ago that Mini had no place to go expect bigger… and so here is the answer to a question nobody asked. Mini is just a pickup truck body away from completely jumping the shark. Someone at work has the coupe model and its just as silly. The only Mini that makes any sense is the original 2 door hatch configuration.

    My wife test drove a Mini and loved its driving manners, but couldn’t deal with the Disney themed interior. Its trying too hard to be cute. So instead we got a Volvo C30.

    • 0 avatar
      Signal11

      Which Mini did your wife drive and what do you mean by Disney themed interior? The mouse ears don’t exist on any model except for the Countryman.

      It doesn’t make much sense to me that you make out the Countryman out to be somehow un-Mini, yet think that the C30 makes more sense. When I was comparison shopping, the C30 fell out of the running because it was actually a heavier and longer vehicle than the CM, much less other Minis.

      Personally, the CM won out by having four doors. The C30 did have nice back seats (and really comfortable front seats) but those back seats were fairly inaccessible because of the lack of doors.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    I parked next to one of these abortions just now. This wagon is taller than my ’12 Subaru Outback. It just looks like an obese Mini. I imagine every soccer mom will be asking ‘does this car make me look fat?’ when they shop for one of these.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Heh, many previous gen Outback owners have similar things to say about the current gen Outback. (the obese abortion part)

    • 0 avatar
      shark715

      So, Icemilkcoffee, sounds like you are not quite ready to upgrade from your Outback to a Countryman? :-) Yeah, I really don’t care for the rear styling of our Countryman, but I do love the front styling as it looks like a (I know I’m going to be ridiculed for saying this) “Mini” Porsche Caynenne. So you don’t like that the CM is taller than your Outback? That’s because your Outback is not really a proper crossover…it’s merely a station wagon with big tires (all those off road TV commercials don’t change what it really is) . It’s really too bad what Subaru did with your new Outback. Talk about obese! The nimble handling of the old Outback is gone…your Outback has body roll and vague steering like a Mercury Grand Marquis. Yep, the ride is a whole lot more plush and there’s lot of room to stretch out versus the Countryman’s tight suspension and much smaller dimensions. Yes, to each his own…but please, not the ’12 Outback!

  • avatar

    The 4th gen f-bodies were better from a performance standpoint. The LSx engines had better power density and better front and rear suspensions. The F-cars did weigh more and the driving position was worse plus fit and finish were worse.

  • avatar
    2012JKU

    I would personally much rather have a Mustang convertible than the 200 but agree they cater to different markets. The 200 is more of a cruiser than a sports car. Although in a totally different category, I prefer my Wrangler Unlimited. It is the ONLY 4 door convertible on the market, plus has 4WD. Course handling is nothing like a car based converible.


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