Countryman's Culture Clash

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
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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.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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4 of 23 comments
  • Tedward Tedward on Aug 17, 2010

    alright, I'll own up to 'better appointed than the GTI' being a stretch. The materials aren't quite as nice and the design isn't as friendly, but it's still a well-done, premium interior to my eyes. What I meant was more along the lines of keeping the interior distinctively upscale and quirky. This car will need that help making an argument for itself as a worthy competitor.

  • Cackalacka Cackalacka on Aug 18, 2010

    To be fair, I liked the feel for the Mini's interior, and if I owned one, I probably would have grown to enjoy its whimsical eccentricities. Save for the plastic-dinnerplate-speedo in the middle. The speed that I'm going only concerns me, and potentially the state trooper who pulled me over. I'd like to keep the folks in the cabin out of the loop. As for making it a worthy competitor, at least against the GTI/MSpeed, not sure if getting the S engine or the John Cooper Works package would be enough to push that weight (although the JCW package would likely push the sticker price $10-20k above the GTI/Speed/entry-lux category.)

  • ZoomZoom ZoomZoom on Aug 18, 2010

    I thought the commercial was cute. Sometimes cute sells. And it's not GM. And it's not Mike Ro. So there.

  • William Lange William Lange on Jan 21, 2011

    "sometimes cute sells" - exactly! very good point. mini has clearly decided to go this route instead of the typical macho/cool route of most car makers. they have a ton of this stuff up their sleeve. at xmas they had snow globes, they did the porsche challenge, and now they have a mini countryman driving cities with a classic mini bolted to the roof. their ads get people talking which is like getting additional ads for free. as for the car? imho it looks too much like a golf and not enough like a mini.