By on July 12, 2017

2017 Mini Countryman S, Image: Myle Rockens/Appearance

2017 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4

2.0-liter inline-four, turbocharged, DOHC (189 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm; 207 lb-ft @ 1,350 rpm)

Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

22 city / 31 highway / 26 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

10.5 city / 7.4 highway / 9.1 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

24.0 mpg [9.8 L/100 km] (Observed)

Base Price: $32,550 (U.S) / $34,125 (Canada)

As Tested: $43,000 (U.S.) / $44,880 (Canada)

Prices include $850 destination charge in the United States and $2,135 for freight and PDI in Canada.

If you’ve come here to read a Mini Cooper S review, I suggest you look elsewhere. What we have here is a vehicle that has very little to do with the small, lightweight and simplistic design of Sir Alec Issigonis’ original Morris Mini concept.

This is nothing more than a disguised BMW X1.

But if you’re currently in the market for a subcompact luxury crossover that blends style with practicality, all while remaining somewhat fun to drive, then the 2017 Mini Cooper S Countryman should serve you well.

Notwithstanding the model’s status as a travesty of platform sharing, this vehicle isn’t all that bad to drive.

2017 Mini Countryman S

Bloat

Weighing in at 3,670 pounds, or roughly the same as an all-wheel-drive Honda CR-V, there’s no hiding the fact that this is a Mini only in the metaphorical sense of the word. At least the Countryman manages to retain the classic Mini design cues, with its oversize head and tail lights, instantly distinguishable front grille, and the classic Mini two-box design that simply never gets old.

Admit it, even if it has absolutely nothing to do with the British hot fun hatch that starred in The Italian Job, this Countryman, with its plastic wheel arch cladding and “lifted” ride height, looks kind of cool.
2017 Mini Countryman S

Riding on BMW’s all-new UKL2 platform, the same one used for the X1, the 2017 Countryman inherits a substantial increase in passenger and cargo space over the previous model, which is precisely what its target clientele is looking for. Again, very ironic for a Mini.

2017 Mini Countryman S

Nonetheless, rear legroom increases 3.8 inches in the new model, and while default cargo space remains midpack at 18 cubic feet, with seats folded flat this Micro Machine of a crossover engulfs 47.6 cubes of gear. That’s a smidge less than a Volkswagen Golf (52.7 cubic feet), but still substantially superior than the similarly priced Infiniti QX30 (34 cubic feet).

2017 Mini Countryman S

And what a funky little cabin to spend some time in — especially in higher trim levels, where an attractive, two-tone interior and chocolate-colored leather sports seats complete the luxury package. Classic Mini touches, such as the metallic toggle switches located on the center stack and the tiny tachometer that protrudes atop the steering column help retain the retro look. Rear seat head and leg clearance is in fact impressive; I had no problem spending some time back there, even with my massive frame.

2017 Mini Countryman S

As per Mini tradition, the center of the dashboard is adorned with a gigantic circular orifice in which now resides the Mini Connected 5 touchscreen interface, the brand’s latest software iteration. This tester had the larger 8.8-inch touchscreen, but the system can also be controlled via a console-mounted dial. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity come standard with the upgraded system and, to be fair, this remains one of the quickest, easiest to comprehend infotainment interfaces I’ve tested in a while.

2017 Mini Cooper Countryman

Fat Go-Kart

On the road, the 2017 Countryman S’ instantaneously recognizable go-kart feeling is present and felt through a firm, nimble chassis, and a small-diameter steering wheel which reacts quickly to the slightest of steering inputs, leaving intact the fun-to-drive character that is so symbolic of the Mini brand.

2017 Mini Cooper Countryman S

My shooter Myle and I had this Countryman during our recent Aston Martin DB11-centered, poutine-focused road trip for Jalopnik. While the little Mini was no match for that twin-turbo V12 grand tourer’s almighty forward thrust, it didn’t cause us any shame, carrying speed effortlessly through the sinuous roads without too much drama. It’s not a sports car, but it’s fun. That’s actually where the Countryman surprised me the most: after getting out of a $300,000 sports car and into this BMW-engineered crossover, it never felt like a penalty box.

2017 Mini Cooper Countryman S

Mind you, as fun as it is to drive, by comparison, the Countryman isn’t as scalpel-precise as a Cooper S. Its weight is felt, all the time. Dare to push the little crossover’s limits a bit too far and you’ll quickly discover its driving dynamics are nowhere near as sharp as its hot hatch sister. That nimble feel mentioned earlier is only the first layer, the one most buyers will remain in. But a talented enthusiast will quickly find themselves disappointed by how easily the Countryman plows forward in a corner with excessive understeer.

See the Countryman as an overweight Cooper that has too much road clearance. Sure, this Mini can run, but it’ll get sweaty and ask for a break real fast.

2017 Mini Cooper Countryman S

The Countryman is also rather loud at highway speeds, with a fair bit of road and wind noise that transcends through the cabin in the form of an unpleasant roar. In this price range, that’s pretty unacceptable. I’ve experienced quieter interiors in some cheaper Honda products.

Power in the Cooper Countryman comes from two powertrain options, with a hybrid expected to be arriving soon. My tester, the S, had the oh-so-needed upgrade engine. It’s a 2.0-liter turbocharged four, the same one found in the standard Cooper S. Mini claims it’s good for 189 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque (base models come with a three-cylinder turbo). All-wheel-drive is optional, with two available transmission choices — either a six-speed manual, a rare feature in this segment, or an eight-speed automatic. My tester had the latter, coupled with all-wheel drive.

2017 Mini Cooper Countryman S

I wrote “needed” before, because the Countryman’s added heft does require more mojo to get up and go. Even with the 2.0-liter’s ample mid-range punch, the Countryman doesn’t feel particularly swift off the line. The eight-speed automatic’s quick reaction times and ability to downshift accordingly does help overtaking, but if you desire a subcompact crossover that delivers more thrills, I’d suggest upgrading to the 228-horsepower John Cooper Works model. With a 0-60 mph acceleration time in the high sevens, this Mini isn’t particularly quick — at least, not compared to its most direct competitor: the Infiniti QX30.

2017 Mini Countryman S

Intelligently Packaged

The 2017 Mini Countryman’s ace up its sleeve versus other luxury subcompact crossovers, like the aforementioned Infiniti QX30, the Audi Q3, or Mercedes-Benz GLA, is the flexibility of its package configurations and available powertrains. Remember, this is one of the only subcompact all-wheel-drive utility vehicles that can be had with a manual transmission.2017 Mini Countryman S

It’s also attractively priced. My tester, a well-equipped S version with all-wheel-drive and a few packages grafted onto it that include convenient creature comforts such as a panoramic sunroof, an upgraded Harman Kardon sound system, that larger 8.8-inch media screen, adjustable rear seats, those Chester leather seats, wireless smartphone charging, and navigation (just to name a few), stickers at $44,880 CAN.

Base Countryman S ALL4 models start a Canadian pre-delivery MSRP of $31,990 ($31,700 in the U.S.), which undercuts the mechanically similar BMW X1 by several thousand dollars. That Infiniti Qx30 starts at roughly 35k (CAN).

2017 Mini Countryman S

So, here’s my final verdict about this Mini with a water retention problem: at first glance, the 2017 Mini Countryman S may seem like another one of those polarizing half-hot hatch, half-utility vehicle contraptions designed for people who first and foremost consider a vehicle as a fashion statement rather than a purposeful means of transportation.

Granted, it is an odd vehicle.

But at least the Countryman doesn’t put the Mini nameplate to shame. As far as subcompact luxury crossovers go, the 2017 Mini Cooper S Countryman is fun enough to drive, definitely looks different, is attractively priced, and offers enough practicality to be considered a smart purchase among the segment.
2017 Mini Countryman S

[Images: Myle Rockens/Appearance]

William Clavey is an automotive journalist from Montréal, Québec, Canada. He runs claveyscorner.com

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50 Comments on “2017 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 Review: Care for Some Badge Engineering, Sir Alec?...”


  • avatar
    jkross22

    Really like the interior and the customizability, and love the option for a manual transmission, but the price is a problem and reliability is a sore spot for Mini.

    • 0 avatar
      brawnychicken333

      43K US for a luxury CUV equipped with the options most people want? Seems reasonable to me. No one’s cross shopping CR-V’s and RAV4’s with this thing.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        That’s because CR-V’s and RAV’s give you more for less – they’re better deals. This is getting shopped by someone who wants a Mini and is drawn to the customization/individuality/branding and cares less about reliability. Mini seems to me like an emotional purchase. Sure, there are some practical things about it, but you’re not buying it because it’s the most practical.

        • 0 avatar
          dividebytube

          re: Mini seems to me like an emotional purchase.

          That’s my wife to a T.

          She has never cared about cars – at all – until she started driving a 2003 Mini Cooper S. She doesn’t care about any other car brand unless it’s a Mercedes/BMW/Audi wagon, or a cool vintage vehicle.

          She has a Mini handbag and clothes – and takes pictures of her car all the time.

          We still have that 2003 Mini S, but have recently added a 2012 Countryman S (with manual – thank god) to the fleet. The former will become her summer car while the Countryman gets winter/family hauling duty.

          btw, both are fun cars – but the 2003 gets the nod for the most silly fun, both in looks and handling. The Countryman feels like a heavy pig – which is no surprise.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          Or a Soul Turbo?

          • 0 avatar
            Tony C

            I’m kind of looking at the Soul Turbo (nee !, nee Exclaim) but balking at the old-school platform with its horrible torsion bar rear suspension and overall simplistic, unrefined chassis. There’s a reason why Souls are so cheap!

        • 0 avatar
          hubcap

          “Mini seems to me like an emotional purchase. Sure, there are some practical things about it, but you’re not buying it because it’s the most practical.”

          I find this statement to be true but it doesn’t just apply to Mini. It covers most cars with premium/luxury/performance leanings.

          Nor does it just apply to cars but to clothes, consumer electronics, business jets and a few other items.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            Mini buyers seem a lot like Porsche buyers. They’re buying into customization, lifestyle and perceived uniqueness. Just without the gearhead element, which Mini just doesn’t have. Instead that customizability piece is what the brand seems to be all about.

        • 0 avatar
          Tony C

          No cross-shopping because the fact is a CR-V or RAV4 is a size up, embiggening is something I got tired of, coming from three generations of RAV4 ownership.

          Countryman compares more to an HR-V or C-HR. Yes, those cute’utes will be cheaper to buy but unlike them, a Countryman will never be confused for a tall, cheap econobox.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        brawnychicken,

        43K will buy you very loaded Lexus NX this Mini will not catch, not in speed, not in Luxury/features

        • 0 avatar
          brawnychicken333

          I have no doubt you are correct. And I also have no doubt that the mini buyer doesn’t care one bit.

        • 0 avatar
          darex

          Yeah, but supposing you think any or all of the following:

          a) Lexuses are ugly
          b) Their infotainment systems are a disaster
          c) They cost more for comparably equipped cars
          d) They are gussied-up Toyotas, rather than trickle-down BMWs
          e) They are boring to drive
          f) Nothing else at this price-point is as customizable/”bespoke”

          43K buys a beyond fully-loaded MINI Countryman S All4, and STILL, it’s 5000 less than a less well-equipped BMW X1, even though they’re basically the same car.

          and g) If you insist on a manual transmission, it’s your ONLY CHOICE

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          Slavuto, the discounted 2016 Buick Envision has the NX beat by $10,000 plus it it has tri-zone climate where the NX only has dual, among other things.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      “It’s also attractively priced”

      This is a lie. It is overpriced by minimum $5,000

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    “Admit it…this Countryman, with its plastic wheel arch cladding and “lifted” ride height, looks kind of cool.”

    Not especially, no.

  • avatar

    See, this is OK, because REAL BMW’s don’t have FWD…..

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    I too want to spend $43,000 on something which is “not all that bad.”

    Funny, that’s how much a Lexus RX costs.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The $43,000 is the MSRP of a 2016 Buick Envision Premium l too, but before it is discounted almost $10,000. Or close to a base Clubman, sand 60 hp or so with same size turbo-4.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      This is base RX. Or, in direct competition with this Mini, [much] smaller NX loaded to the gills with MSRP of nearly $46K, can be had for $43 out of the door. Although, for me, Mini’s manual shifter is big attraction

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        The RDX doesn’t have a real AWD system along with Acura being glorified Hondas, it doesn’t really compete here.

        The over priced NX does not match the Envision Premium l for feature content, nor does it perform as well in handling and braking metrics. The AWD in the Buick is the best on the market allow only one wheel to pull up an incline while the other three spin. Plus torque vectoring rear end is a hoot to drive in the snow/wet.

        Plus the NX is $10,000 more expensive bit not offer $10K more options.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I really expected better from TTAC.

    “Badge engineering” is when you take a vehicle, swap the badges, take away or add some trim, maybe different taillights, maybe a different grille, and different style wheels. Done. The sheet metal is the same, the platform is the same, what is under the hood is the same, what gets the power from the engine to the wheels is the same, the dashboard layout is the same (maybe the instrument cluster is different, maybe the material covering the dash is different) the seat frames are the same (but maybe different material).

    Examples of egregious badge engineering are almost everything GM built in the 80s, the Ford Fusion versus the Mercury Milan in the 90s, GM U-body minivans, Chrysler minivans, the Plymouth/Dodge/Chrysler Neon of the 2000s and the Lincoln MKX and the Ford Edge of the last 2000s and 2010s, and the Honda Crosstour versus the Acura ZDX. A less egregious example would be the Lexus HS 250h, which wasn’t much more than a luxury trim Japanese Corolla.

    Platform sharing, which this is an example of, is when a vehicle shares a platform and quite possibly the same mechanicals, but have different sheet metal, quite possibly different dimensions, and different interior.

    If the argument is this is a “badge engineered X1” then an Audi A4 is just a badge engineered VW Polo, and the upcoming Toyota Avalon is just a badge engineered Prius.

    • 0 avatar

      Thank you for pointing this out APaGttH. I started the article off on a bad note and I had trouble even reading it after that.

      If you want to label something of badge engineering, great, do it TTAC. This isn’t it.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        what do you expect? half of the “B&B” equate platform sharing with “badge engineering.” TTAC is just catering to its information-light audience.

  • avatar
    brawnychicken333

    Meh, it’s got half decent appeal. It’s a small CUV for upper middle class people who had a mini before, have one kid now, but still love their mini. Or, upper middle class people with one kid who always wanted a mini, but it never fit their life. No hate.

    Sure, it’s not as light, fast, cheap, and reliable as the fictional vehicle internet commenters say they would buy. But then, such a vehicle doesn’t exist, and commenters wouldn’t buy it if it did any dang way.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    I can’t get with the conflicting statements within this review.

    “While the little Mini was no match for that twin-turbo V12 grand tourer’s almighty forward thrust, it didn’t cause us any shame, carrying speed effortlessly through the sinuous roads without too much drama.”

    THEN

    “Sure, this Mini can run, but it’ll get sweaty and ask for a break real fast.”

    So it’s effortlessly speedy and without drama, but also sweaty and asked for a break when traveling quickly. Need to pick one.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Yeah, I liked his angle that the nimbleness was limited to the “first layer” and that the limitations become apparent quickly if you push it past that, but the supercar comparison undermines the argument.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    The original Countryman weighed ~3000 to 3200 pounds. An extra 400 pounds on this version sure isn’t going to help performance.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Having driven a Mini Countryman John Cooper Works ALL4 for all of a weekend, I have to say that you would only buy it because you want a Mini and have a total disregard for comfort, reliability, utility or value.

    Cramped, little luggage space, hard to get in and out of, the toggle switches are the opposite of intuitive and the thin tires make for a tiring ride.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      “disregard for comfort, reliability, utility or value.”

      – comfort – yea, cool-looking nicely wrapped seats but thin padding in them
      – reliability – sometimes you can afford somewhat average reliability in the name of coolness
      – utility – if you buying Mini, you know this. If utility is must, you just don’t shop for Mini
      – value – yea! with MSRP $5K less, may be you can find some value in it. As is, this is just an expensive toy

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Arthur, do you recall if you drove the new one, or was it a 2016 or older?

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Everyone complains the new Minis are not Mini enough in size, but the closest current examples of original Mini size is the Smart and the deceased Scion/Toyota IQ, and we know how well those sell. Virtually nobody wants a car as cramped as the original Mini with bus angle steering wheel and no legroom front or rear unless you are less than 5 foot 5, not to mention an original Mini would get negative 5 stars (or worse) with current safety tests. I would also say that BMW is probably one of the best in the world at covering up a shared platform – nobody confuses a RR Ghost with the 7 Series, and nobody confuses a Mini with the X1 or Euro 2 Series MPV.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    No. Mini hardtop 2-door or Clubman or go elsewhere. A 3600 pound CUV with Mini styling stretched horrifically across it is neither appealing nor worth putting up with this brand’s reliability.

    189 horsepower to move that mass isn’t exactly premium, either.

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      You’ve never driven an F-series MINI, have you! For starters, the peak torque occurs at really low RPMs, and note that there’s zero turbo-lag.

      I own an F56 (aka Hardtop), and it’s been completely trouble-free for the 3+ years I’ve had it.

      The F54 Clubman and F60 Countryman are essentially the same size, and nearly the same weight.

      Quit perpetuating myths and other falsehoods, when you have no idea what you’re talking about. Actual owners love their F-series MINIs.

      I am 100% for sure getting an F60 Countryman as my next car. Enough said!

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        “You’ve never driven an F-series MINI, have you!”

        Nope, I haven’t! Don’t need to to know that this CUV isn’t for me! Because if I want a Mini, I’d rather have the other two models I mentioned!

        Now as for perpetuating myths and falsehoods, let’s look at:

        -I don’t like the concept of the Countryman = I HATE MINI!

        -I don’t find the power rating acceptable for my tastes at this price = I don’t know what I’m talking about

        -Anyone who believes that a 3-year ownership period is a good metric of reliability *does* know what they are talking about

        -Weight is the reason I’d take the Clubman over the Countryman

        -Happy Mini owners being indicative of anything given how few there are.

        -A touchy, enthusiastic Mini owner “100% sure” to buy another has any objectivity

        Enjoy your “isn’t particularly quick” and “it’ll get sweaty and ask for a break” expensive crossover with “unpleasant roar”, but forgive the rest of us for looking elsewhere and feeling that the 2-door is a better embodiment of the brand.

        • 0 avatar
          darex

          They’ve only been out since 2014, so I can only speak to my 40,000 trouble-free miles, but at least I can honestly and accurately speak to them, and not just word-fart about MINIs, like you.

          Wow, you are a troll, aren’t you!

          Yes. I am buying another MINI, and I’m uppingbthe ante. What more can I say, other than my experience was extremely positive, and I have confidence in their reliability. It’s a lot more than you can say!

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Troll? No, I simply don’t think this car looks appealing and posted one original comment on the matter. Since I would be using my own money were I to buy one, I think that’s pretty valid.

            You, however, are a strangely hypersensitive Pollyanna who discards basic reading comprehension skills when protecting his beloved’s honour against someone foul enough to decide she isn’t dateable after reading the spec sheet and reviews.

            Her 2-door hardtop sister is still pretty cute though. I’d ask for her number.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    This is on my list of potential next cars (along with several hundred other options).

    But it’s not badge-engineered. Badge engineering is when the primary difference between two vehicles is the badge they share. The Yukon and the Tahoe are badge-engineered. Their bodyshells are more or less identical, as are their interiors. The main differences are the front and rear fascias, and artificial differentiation, like options you can get on the Yukon, but not the Tahoe. But they’re the same car.

    This MINI, meanwhile, is not badge-engineered. It may share a platform and possibly a powertrain with the X1, but that’s where the differences end. It’s got a unique design and driving dynamic.

    I think that’s a difference worth pointing out, because people continue to mix up badge engineering and platform sharing. The former is lazy; the latter is necessary for any volume automaker’s survival on the market.

  • avatar
    emjay66

    Is the pricing converted to Canadian dollars for both countries ? If not that 44,800 Canadian price is less than 35k American.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    “What we have here is a vehicle that has very little to do with the small, lightweight and simplistic design of Sir Alec Issigonis’ original Morris Mini concept.” Just like any modern-day “Mini”.

  • avatar
    carve

    Not badge engineered. This is a completely different interior and body than the horrendously ugly X1 (and I drive a bimmer). Quite an improvement. That said, it seems overpriced, and I wish it came with the 6cyl turbo.

  • avatar
    hamish42

    I own a 1968 Mini Traveler (station wagon). It has an original 1275 cc Cooper S engine and is a lightweight, throwable joy. Any relation to the version of my car which is currently being marketing is related to the badges. They went from light simple and fun to heavy and bloated. It’s not a Mini. It’s a BMW.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    A fine review. I’d like to see a few more on TTAC.

    I think Mini appeals to people that want a reasonably powerful, small-ish car that’s fun to drive.

    I’d love to see a review on the Clubman with 6MT.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    So it doesn’t have as much cargo room, seats up or down, as a Golf R, which is also AWD but weighs like 400 lbs. less and has an extra 100 hp. And isn’t ugly.

    • 0 avatar
      Ashy Larry

      No but owning a Golf R, I can tell you that interior room (especially for rear passengers, but also a bit for front seat passengers) is significantly better in the MINI.

      Golf R is also pricier unless you really load up the MINI options sheet, while it’s ride is nice for a high performance car, the MINI will be the better everyday driver, especially for someone who doesn’t need or want the blistering R performance…..


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