2020 Mini Cooper S Countryman Review - A Hatchback From Costco
2020 Mini Cooper S Countryman
Considering the insanity our consumer markets have seen over the past few weeks, I’m kicking myself for having let my warehouse club membership lapse a year or so ago. I reasoned that there was absolutely no need for me to buy staple foods (or paper products) in bulk quantities. There would be no circumstance short of the apocalypse where my regular supermarket could not adequately fill the needs of my family.
Yeah, I’m kicking myself.
Anyhow, that got me thinking about other things that one could buy in larger packages than normal. Looking at the photos of the 2020 Mini Cooper S Countryman I drove a few weeks ago, it clicked – this is the bulk package Mini Cooper. A fair bit more Mini than the standard three-door hatchback, the Countryman is the Mini for families.
To be fair, I wouldn’t take any Mini on a serious Costco run. Those bulk packages of bog roll, frozen ground beef, and fifty-pound bags of flour and rice will quickly overwhelm the 47.6 cubic feet of cargo space the Mini Countryman provides with the rear seats folded. With those rear seats up, 17.6 cubes is a bit tight, but for those weekly supermarket runs this manages perfectly fine.
[Get new and used Mini Countryman pricing here!]
The interior, beyond that tight cargo hold, works beautifully – and is very nicely appointed, with plush quilted leather in an attractive shade of taupe that Mini calls British Oak. The seats offer plenty of support front and rear. My kids, having suffered a bit in the rear of a more traditional two-door Mini Cooper, were amazed at the space they had in the Countryman. Heck, I sat “behind” myself and felt much more comfortable than I do in most compact crossovers – so much so, that this vehicle might genuinely work well for four adults even over long distances. I’m genuinely impressed by the appearance of this interior, as it all looks and feels much more upmarket from the Mini I reviewed last month.
Of course, choosing this leather over the base leatherette requires – at least – the $2,000 Signature Upholstery package and the Signature trim, which adds $3,000 atop the base $28,400 Classic trim level. My tester wears the Iconic trim package, which appears on the sticker as a $8,000 option. Sadly, Mini suffers from parent BMW’s option bloat, where common options require adding more and more to the bottom line. Theoretically, a Countryman could be had for under $30k. This one stickers for $42,250.
While the interior looks great, I’m not as enamored with the exterior styling. Mini has a built-in limitation to its styling, I’m afraid, and trying to enlarge the same old design to fit new market segments makes for weird appendages and bulges. My biggest gripe is with the transition of the roof line between the C- and D-pillars, where the white roof curves down a bit to meet a rear light that is shorter than the windows in both doors. The silver-painted roof rails distract a bit, but my eyes return to that unfortunate roof line.
Thankfully, the driving experience redeems the styling miscues. The Cooper S Countryman is surprisingly engaging behind the wheel. It’s a bit heavy (3,514 pounds), with only 189 horsepower to pull it around, but the steering is direct and eager. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission shifts quickly and nearly imperceptibly. With the longer wheelbase over the standard Mini, the ride on the interstate is quite good, without the fore-and-aft pitching one finds in the smaller car. Fuel economy is rather good, too — I’m sure I could have broken 30 mpg had I spent a bit more time at freeway speeds. It’s incredibly easy to live with.
Mini calls this Countryman a SAV – a sport-activity vehicle, as opposed to a SUV or crossover CUV. While I struggle with the idea of a Mini not being so, you know, mini – I’m wondering if I’m looking at this all wrong. Is the Countryman actually the crossover that we, the crossover-hating enthusiasts, have been wanting all along?
After all, it’s pretty decent to drive. A bit more power would always be welcome, but the Mini Cooper S Countryman is reasonably fun while retaining a fair bit of utility. Interior space and cargo room is on par with most compact crossovers. And, unlike when buying in bulk elsewhere, you don’t need to pay extra for a membership.
[Images: © 2020 Chris Tonn/TTAC]
Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in ebay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.
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