2018 Mini S E Countryman ALL 4 Review - A Business Case Gone Wrong
Mini Coopers are one of those cars that easily starts a debate among the TTAC staff in our Slack channels. Are they fun to drive or not? Too “cutesy” or no? Is there a place in the market for them? Are they overpriced?
I’ve long been of the mind that Minis are fun to drive, too expensive, and it’s up to the beholder when it comes to the styling. I also think there is a place in the world for small “city” cars – though I’m biased, as I live in the kind of congested area where small cars thrive.
What I struggle with is why this Mini needs to exist. Other than a cynical attempt at boosting corporate fuel economy numbers, I don’t see a need for an all-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid that doesn’t have much EV-only range and doesn’t really need to be plugged in. Of course, if you don’t plug in, you get a shorter fuel range when running on gas than that of its stablemates.
With an EV on the Way, Mini's Looking for Partners and Thinking Hard About the U.S.
Mini faces a fork in the road in the United States. The retro-themed brand, reintroduced in the U.S. marketplace in 2002 by parent company BMW Group, needs to decide what it wants to be. Sales are falling as consumer tastes evolve towards larger vehicles. New technologies are cropping up at a rapid pace. What is the child of the British Motor Corporation, British Leyland, Rover Group, and BMW Group to do?
BMW Group management board member Peter Schwarzenbauer knows the brand needs to evolve — and not just in the U.S., where the brand reach a high point in 2013. After announcing a new electric Mini Cooper Hardtop (Mini E) for 2019, Schwarzenbauer took some time to address its U.S. plans.
QOTD: What Car Would You Avoid Owning at All Costs?
Today, our question circles around cars with issues. The sort of issues that could send an owner to an early grave or perhaps some preventative therapy, at the very least. Cars with widely-known issues, bad ownership propositions for running costs, depreciation, safety, or something else — they all qualify today.
Which cars would you avoid owning at all costs?
2017 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 Review: Care for Some Badge Engineering, Sir Alec?
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.
Ask Jack: Can We Flip the FWD Script?
The late Janet Reno once described herself thusly: “The fact is I’m just an awkward old maid with a very great affection for men.” Similarly, I think of myself as a liberal-arts type with a very great affection for engineering. I’ve designed a few bicycles in my time, and I’ve earned most of my bread by programming in various languages, but I’m not qualified to draw a bridge, create a capacitor, or invent an engine. Those are special and particular disciplines that attract special and particular people. I ain’t one of them.
Nevertheless, even as an outsider it seems plain to me that there are two kinds of automotive engineering: the inventive kind, as practiced by Henry Ford and Colin Chapman, and the iterative kind as practiced by the vast majority of engineers currently working in the business. When Jim Hall put a wing on the Chaparral, he was doing inventive engineering; when the Mercedes F1 team runs through ten thousand CFD calculation sequences to remove crosswind drag by 0.5 percent, that’s iterative engineering.
Inventive engineering gets the headlines, but iterative engineering pays the bills. Which leads me to today’s question, which asks? Can’t we be inventive when it comes to front-wheel drive?
BMW Group Hires Oliver Heilmer As New Boss Of Mini Design - It's About Time
In Oliver Heilmer, BMW Group’s Mini brand will finally have a design chief after being rudderless for much of the last year.
Anders Warming, Heilmer’s predecessor, resigned the post last summer. The 42-year-old Heilmer, who makes his way up the corporate ladder from BMW Designworks in California, won’t actually undertake his new role until September.
“With his design expertise and experience, Oliver Heilmer combines continuity with the freshness and vision Mini stands for,” Adrian van Hooydonk, head of BMW Group Design, said in BMW’s official statement. In other words, Heilmer is both an insider, as part of BMW Group Design for 17 years, but also an outsider, as the BMW Designworks boss who previously held a post in interior design at the BMW brand.
Regardless, Heilmer has his work cut out for him. In the hugely important U.S. market, Mini sales in 2016 fell to a six-year low, and sales are declining further in 2017.
QOTD: What to Do With Mini?
It’s a brand most of us never think about. We never consider buying one, nor do we rush to our laptops/tablets/phones to excitedly discuss the latest update to the brand’s lineup. Simply put, there’s something about the brand that’s lacking.
Maybe it’s horsepower, or lack thereof. Or maybe it’s reliability. Whatever the reason, Mini is not — with some exceptions — at the forefront of our collective consciousness.
It’s a brand that tries hard to remain relevant, especially over here in Crossoverland. Hey, four doors on a Cooper! Look — a longer Clubman! Excuse me, sir, can we interest you in a considerably larger Countryman? Nothing Mini about it, har har…
And yet, for all of its attempts to stay in the buying public’s eye — culling unpopular models like the Paceman and “right-sizing” its current products — Mini’s U.S. sales are still heading in the wrong direction after reaching a 2013 peak. That year saw the brand unload 66,502 units, a clear high-water mark. Last year? 52,030. The first four months of 2017 shows sales slipping behind last year’s tally.
The brand needs to do something to slow the descent, but — as we learned yesterday — it won’t field any new models for a number of years.
Mini Draws Line, Won't Build Any New Models - For a While, Anyway
Forget all about a Mini sedan, roadster, or even an extra-small two-seat hatchback. The British automaker isn’t having any of it.
Despite earlier reports to the contrary, Mini has no immediate plans to diversify its current lineup, preferring to wait until the next-generation Mini rolls along before going nuts (if indeed it ever does). In the meantime, are you interested in a crossover or near-crossover?
Even the Brits Think the New 2017 Mini Countryman Might Suck
It’s can be difficult to wipe the smug look of a home field advantage off your face.
Yet in its home English market, the all-new second-generation 2017 Mini Countryman is failing to find favor with British car critics. evo Magazine, never one to pull its punches, published a review of the 2017 Mini Countryman chock full of significant objections.
“Mini’s new SUV has grown up, but it’s lost the Mini fun factor along the way,” Antony Ingram writes. evo says it expects “the BMW-owned company to turn out cars that are fun to drive and show up their rivals as sloppy, dull and character-free.” Yet, Ingram says, “the latest Mini Countryman doesn’t manage that.”
Citing poor value, disappointing acceleration in the hi-po S model, un-Mini-like dynamics, a cabin too twee, and a design that continues “to look ever more contrived,” evo suggests you may prefer — get this — a Toyota C-HR.
QOTD: Which Car Models Need to Die Immediately?
Today’s marketplace is a crowded affair. Each manufacturer seems to sit down at the table every new model year with more. More variants, more things with all-wheel drive, more CUVs, and more vehicles which split the pieces of the sales pie down to ever smaller fragments. This fragmentation leads to the eye splinter above, whatever the hell Toyota thinks it is, which will clog up parking lots everywhere starting next year.
To cure this portion issue, I think some models need to die, and I want you to help me choose which ones.
Mini's Biggest Gets the John Cooper Works Treatment, Becomes Brand's Most Powerful Ride
Mini’s largest model is about to get the most powerful engine currently available to the brand from its parent company, BMW. The company will offer up its 2018 Countryman as the latest John Cooper Works model, adorned with polarizing paint jobs and a powerful 2.0-liter turbo.
While the idea of a performance crossover might seem like an oxymoron, as well as being a bit impractical — especially considering Mini already makes a quicker and more nimble JCW Cooper with the same engine — there’s a precedent of the concept working.
Ace of Base: 2017 Mini Cooper Hardtop 2-Door
Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that — all things considered — just might be the primo choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.
When the new Mini was introduced way back in 2000, some saw it as a means to cash in on the burgeoning niche of retro-themed cars, then populated by the New Beetle, PT Cruiser, and — erm — Ford Thunderbird. Oh dear.
Since then, the Mini brand has grown into a full line of cars, ranging from the original Hardtop to the jacked-up Countryman. It’s shockingly easy to spend upwards of $40,000 on a Mini today, but how does one stack up as a base model at half that price?
Let’s find out.
TTAC News Roundup: Mini Goes Electric, Audi SUV Gains a Watered-Down Name, Unifor Tangles With Ford, and Musk Delays Big News
Mini has revealed what form its new hybrid will take.
That, the e-tron name lives on in Audi’s first dedicated electric SUV, Unifor squares off with Ford, and hype man Elon Musk reschedules his alleged big announcement … after the break!
Mini Makes a Name Misnomer With Larger Countryman
Mini continues to inflate the size of its vehicles, and the redesigned Countryman is expected to be the biggest yet.
The company’s global head, Sebastian Mackensen, tells Automotive News Europe that the new vehicle will grow in the same way as the second-generation Clubman. He also claims the next Countryman will be more SUV-like, and for a very specific reason.
Electric Mini and BMW X3 Are a Go, Says CEO
An electric Mini? There’s a weak Austin Powers joke in there somewhere, maybe, but that movie (alarmingly) came out 19 years ago.
After teasing the possibility earlier this year, BMW CEO Harald Krüger confirmed an all-electric Mini will arrive in 2019, Bloomberg reports. Krüger claims a Mini EV, as well as an electric version of the compact X3 crossover, is needed to keep up with the company’s German rivals.