The Truth About Cars » Countryman http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 20 Oct 2014 22:44:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Countryman http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com New York 2014: 2015 MINI Countryman Debuted http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-mini-countryman-debuted/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-mini-countryman-debuted/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:53:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=800442 The biggest MINI of them all, the Countryman, debuted its refreshed looks for the guests at the 2014 New York Auto Show. The compact SUV still rides on its current platform, and still uses the 1.6-liter four-pot that pushes anywhere from 121 to 208 horsepower, depending upon whether the owner selects the Cooper, Cooper S […]

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The biggest MINI of them all, the Countryman, debuted its refreshed looks for the guests at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

The compact SUV still rides on its current platform, and still uses the 1.6-liter four-pot that pushes anywhere from 121 to 208 horsepower, depending upon whether the owner selects the Cooper, Cooper S or John Cooper Works trims. A six-speed manual is standard on all, with a six-speed auto available for a few more dollars. All-wheel drive is optional for the Cooper and Cooper S, standard for the John Cooper Works model.

Starting price for the 2015 Countryman is expected to be around $23,000, and will arrive in showrooms this July.

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BMW to End Mini Production at Magna Steyr http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/bmw-ends-mini-production-at-magna-steyr/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/bmw-ends-mini-production-at-magna-steyr/#comments Fri, 31 Jan 2014 11:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=728914 The Kleine Zeitung newspaper reported on Thursday that the BMW Group will end contract production of Mini cars by Magna Steyr in 2016. Automotive News reports that the Austrian supplier currently builds the Mini Countryman and Mini Paceman. BMW will move production of the two models to BMW’s own Mini factory in Oxford, England, and […]

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MINI Countryman cars being assembled at Magna Steyr's Austrian facility.

MINI Countryman cars being assembled at Magna Steyr’s Austrian facility.

The Kleine Zeitung newspaper reported on Thursday that the BMW Group will end contract production of Mini cars by Magna Steyr in 2016. Automotive News reports that the Austrian supplier currently builds the Mini Countryman and Mini Paceman. BMW will move production of the two models to BMW’s own Mini factory in Oxford, England, and to Mitsubishi’s former NedCar facility in the Netherlands, where the Dutch group VDL will start Mini production under contract later this year. Magna Steyr’s corporate parent, Magna International, said in a statement that its relationship with BMW will continue through a new vehicle manufacturing contract.

“The new production program would start following the end of production of the current Mini models Mini Countryman and Mini Paceman being assembled by Magna Steyr in Graz.” No details were given on specific models that Magna Steyr will be assembling under the new contract.

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According to the Kleine Zeitung, Magna Steyr’s role will not be to build particular BMW Group cars but rather it will hold capacity for a variety of models as demand dictates. Those would likely be high-volume models like the BMW 5 series and 3 Series cars. The newspaper says that the contract will probably cover a volume of over 100,000 vehicles over 6 to 7 years.

Neither Magna Steyr or BMW has commented on the report.

Magna Steyr currently also assembles vehicles for Mercedes-Benz and Peugeot.

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Review: 2012 MINI Cooper S Countryman All4 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/review-2012-mini-cooper-s-countryman-all4/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/review-2012-mini-cooper-s-countryman-all4/#comments Sat, 11 Aug 2012 13:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=454503 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 […]

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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.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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

 

2012 MINI Countryman, Interior, dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Interior,  Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Interior, Driver's side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Interior, steering wheel, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Interior, dashboard, MINI Connected, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Interior, dashboard, MINI Connected, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Interior, center console, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Interior, MINI Connected controls, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Interior, door panel, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Interior, rear seats, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Interior, rear seats folded, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman S-011 2012 MINI Countryman, Interior, rear seats folded, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Interior, rear seats, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Interior, cargo area, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Interior, cargo area, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Interior, cargo area, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Engine, 1.6L Turbo, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Engine, 1.6L Turbo, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Exterior, side 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Exterior, side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Exterior, all 4 logo, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Exterior, wheels, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Exterior, Cooper logo, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Exterior, MINI Logo, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Exterior, rear, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Exterior, front, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Exterior, front, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Exterior, side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Interior, MINI Connected, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Interior, speedometer and MINI Connected, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Interior, speedometer, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 MINI Countryman, Interior, tachometer, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Countryman’s Culture Clash http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/08/countrymans-culture-clash/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/08/countrymans-culture-clash/#comments Tue, 17 Aug 2010 14:57:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=363106 How does a brand built on small, fun, efficient city cars build up to its inevitable first-ever SUV? Apparently the answer is very little. MINI’s seems to be aiming its forthcoming Countryman squarely at current MINI owners, with the first US market ads portraying the Countryman as little more than a MINI Cooper with four […]

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How does a brand built on small, fun, efficient city cars build up to its inevitable first-ever SUV? Apparently the answer is very little. MINI’s seems to be aiming its forthcoming Countryman squarely at current MINI owners, with the first US market ads portraying the Countryman as little more than a MINI Cooper with four doors and All-Wheel-Drive (as opposed to Subaru-style outdoor lifestyle marketing). In other words, it’s not so much a Countryman as a city hipster with a flair for rural evangelism. But are four doors, AWD and a “sliding center rail” enough to bring new buyers into the fold? There’s almost no doubt that the Countryman will be a hot fashion item for a while, but the world’s first Austrian-built MINI is going to face high prices, weak power in the base spec (1.6 liters moving over 3k lbs), and intra-brand anti-SUV snobbery. On the plus side, it’s apparently very hip.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: MINI’s Growing Family Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-minis-growing-family-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-minis-growing-family-edition/#comments Thu, 10 Jun 2010 16:53:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=358638 MINI’s new six-model lineup gets an early preview, as the Cooper, Convertible, Clubman, Countryman, Coupe and Roadster meet up outside MINI’s plant in Oxford, England. The Countryman SUV won’t arrive in the states until February 2011, with the Coupe and Roadster following by six and 12 months respectively.

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MINI’s new six-model lineup gets an early preview, as the Cooper, Convertible, Clubman, Countryman, Coupe and Roadster meet up outside MINI’s plant in Oxford, England. The Countryman SUV won’t arrive in the states until February 2011, with the Coupe and Roadster following by six and 12 months respectively.

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Geneva Gallery: 2012 MINI Countryman http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/geneva-gallery-2012-mini-countryman/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/geneva-gallery-2012-mini-countryman/#comments Wed, 03 Mar 2010 18:38:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=347455 What happens when MINIs stop being mini and start getting real? Huge sales in America, probably. Luckily the return of the Moke is not as mawkish as we might have feared.  And with four actual doors, passengers won’t have to perform fakir-worthy contortions to reach one of the rear seats alá MINI Clubman. Look for […]

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What happens when MINIs stop being mini and start getting real? Huge sales in America, probably. Luckily the return of the Moke is not as mawkish as we might have feared.  And with four actual doors, passengers won’t have to perform fakir-worthy contortions to reach one of the rear seats alá MINI Clubman. Look for the Countryman at your local upscale supermarket parking lot starting in early 2011.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: My What A MINI SUV You Have Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-my-what-a-mini-suv-you-have-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-my-what-a-mini-suv-you-have-edition/#comments Tue, 19 Jan 2010 19:43:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=342322 The post What’s Wrong With This Picture: My What A MINI SUV You Have Edition appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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MINI-malism (courtesy:WCF)

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