2017 Mini Countryman Review

Introduction

The awkward-looking Mini Countryman has been replaced for 2017. Its successor is the biggest Mini ever, resulting in increased practicality. But is it as good to drive as you’d expect? And should we be annoyed that Minis are getting bigger?

 

Body Style: Crossover       Seats: 5            MRP from £21,890 - £31,515 

 

Did you know? You can now fit the Mini Countryman with an optional picnic bench which folds out from beneath the boot floor.

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Verdict:★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7.1/10)

If you really want a Mini but need the practicality the Countryman offers, it’s easier than before to justify it on a level-headed basis. Not only is it practical, it feels premium inside and looks less awkward than the original model. But it’s still expensive, and it’s not as great to drive as you might expect from a Mini.

Design & Exterior

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Interior & Comfort

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Technology & Connectivity

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Performance & Handling

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Safety Features

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Spec & Trim Levels

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Running Costs & Fuel Economy

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Pricing

★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ (4/10)

 

2017 Mini Countryman

We Like

Premium interior

Spacious

More attractive than before

We Don't Like

Slow

Doesn’t handle like a true Mini

Won’t be to everyone’s tastes

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Design & Exterior:★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Mini Countryman

Buy the latest Mini Countryman and be prepared for jibes from misguided fools about it not being a proper Mini. And it’s true, at 4.3 metres long and more than 1.8 metres wide, it’s anything but mini. Based on the same UKL2 platform as the BMW X1, it’s 200mm longer than its predecessor, and almost as big as a Nissan Qashqai. But, in a perverse kind of way, we think it’s quite a handsome thing.

With its floating roof, hexagonal grille and oversized front and rear lights, it’s in-keeping with the Mini brand in all but dimensions (and some would say its chunky dimensions are very in-keeping with 21st century Mini). It looks less stodgy than its predecessor, with a longer wheelbase and all four wheels pushed out to the corners. It’s quite rugged in appearance, with big plastic arches and a bigger ground clearance.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Interior & Comfort: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Mini Countryman hybrid

The interior is business as usual for anyone who’s driven a Mini recently. By that we mean toggle switches and the brand’s trademark circular instrument binnacle in the centre of the dash. No longer does it house the speedo, however - it’s home to a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which can be upgraded to 8.8-inches for a fee. Upright air vents allude to its extra height over other Mini models, apparently.

The overall feel is one of a premium car, with lots of soft-touch materials and buttons that are satisfying to use. Everything feels like it’s well-made and will last for much longer than the Countryman remains in fashion. Although the interior won’t be to everyone’s tastes, it’s not short of personality.

Practicality

That chunky exterior translates into a spacious cabin. There’s an extra 5cm of legroom in the rear, and it’s very easy for both front and rear seat passengers to get comfortable. Finding a pleasant driving position is easy, too, with electric adjustment available for the front seats and a steering wheel that offers both reach and rake adjustment.  

There’s a commendable 450 litres of boot space with the rear seats up, and it’s easily accessible with a low lip helping loading bulky loads. Folding the rear seats down is fairly simple, while an optional sliding bench allows you to balance luggage and passenger space.

Boot space

Min: 450 litres
Max: 1390 litres 

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Technology & Connectivity:★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Mini Countryman

The upgraded 8.8-inch display of our test car is now a touchscreen system for the first time, but it can still be operated by a dial positioned between the front seats. It’s an easy, logical system to use, and we like having the options of whether to use it as a touchscreen or via the BMW iDrive-style controller. It’s a worthwhile option, and one that’s part of the £950 Media Pack, which also includes Mini’s clever new Find Mate feature. This allows you to fix tags with wireless tracking functions to important objects you may lose – such as keys and rucksacks – and trace them on your phone or on your MINI’s on-board computer.

Standard tech includes Bluetooth and DAB radio (both options on the old model), along with parking sensors.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Performance & Handling:★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Mini Countryman

Handling is what Mini does well, but there’s only so much that can be done to counteract the Countryman’s hefty dimensions. Sure, its heavy steering provides plenty of feedback and it doesn’t take much arm-flapping to wind it from lock to lock, but these features just make it a little irritating most of the time. Around town, for example, rivals take less effort to slot into parking spaces, while on open roads the steering is a tad on the darty side. It’s still more fun than the crossover norm, though.

The ride quality is hampered by the Mini’s ambitions to be a driver’s crossover. Over the lumps and bumps of British roads, the Countryman struggles to absorb abrasions in the road. It settles down on smooth tarmac, but we’d trade the keen chassis for one that won’t make the kids feel sick.

We’re yet to try the John Cooper Works version, but none of the models we have tried are exactly quick - even the Cooper S-badged model, which takes 7.5 seconds to hit 62mph when combined with the manual ’box. You’d be best opting for a diesel, which is a 2.0-litre unit currently available in 150hp Cooper D or 190hp Cooper SD flavours. We’ve only tried the Cooper D and, while it wasn’t thrilling, its performance is adequate and well suited to the Countryman.

Mini’s All4 four-wheel-drive system is available as an optional extra, should you want a Countryman that can transfer power between the front and rear axles when required. Under normal conditions, it acts like a standard front-drive model, only shifting power to the rear when required during hard cornering or when driving in slippery conditions.

Recommended engine: 2.0 Cooper D

0-62mph

8.9 seconds

Fuel economy

65.7mpg

Emissions

113g/km

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Safety Features:★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Mini Countryman

Safety is obviously going to be a priority for many Mini Countryman buyers, so you’ll pleased to hear it comes with a full complement of airbags along with a collision warning system with autonomous city braking function and an optional pedestrian warning system.

Euro NCAP is yet to test the latest Countryman and, although its predecessor scored the full five stars, it’s worth noting the latest Mini hatch and Clubman (with which it shares a platform) only scored four out five. We’ll thus reserve final judgement until then.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Specs and Trim Levels: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Mini Countryman

Colours

A bland Moonwalk Grey is the only standard colour on the Mini Countryman, so add £550 to the list price to spec your Countryman in an interesting hue. Options range from solid colours such as bright Chili Red, to metallics such as traditional British Racing Green. If you want to stand out, choose Lapisluxury Blue for £795.

Of course, you can customise a Countryman in a typical Mini fashion - choose a white or black roof and door mirrors for no extra cost, while bonnet stripes can be added for £100.

Trim Levels

The Countryman line-up isn’t as complicated as it initially appears. There’s essentially an entry-level petrol and diesel (the Cooper and Cooper D), and a sportier version of each (the Cooper S and Cooper SD). You’ll also need to decide whether you want a two- or four-wheel-drive model (we’ll suggest the former unless you’re actually planning to engage in rural pursuits) and whether you want a manual or automatic gearbox.

There’s also a hot John Cooper Works model on its way.

Size and Dimensions

We’ve covered how big the Mini Countryman is. Not everyone will be a fan, but that translates into a roomy cabin.

Length

4,299 mm

Width

1,822 mm

Height

1,557 mm

Max towing weight without brake

1,500kg

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Running Costs & Fuel Economy:★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Mini Countryman

The most efficient Countryman is currently the Cooper D, which returns 65.7mpg and emits 113g/km CO2. Rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai are available with more frugal powertrains, but Mini has an answer to that. A plug-in hybrid version, due later in 2017, is set to have a three-figure combined fuel economy figure.

If you’re looking at sticking to petrol, the entry-level 1.5-litre Cooper officially returns 51.4mpg in front-wheel-drive guise (dropping to 46.3mpg as a 4x4).

Reliability and servicing

We’ve not heard of any big issues around Mini’s reliability record, and the Countryman’s three-year, 60,000-mile warranty should lay any concerns to rest.

Minor

12 months or 10,000-15,000 miles - £175 est

Major

24 months or 20,000-30,000 miles - £310 est

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Pricing:★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ (4/10)

2017 Mini Countryman

Minis aren’t cheap, and the Cooper’s £22,465 start price soon starts to increase once you’ve added a few essential options. It’s a premium product and priced as such, with the top-spec John Cooper Works starting at £30,675. Residual values should be good, however, meaning there are some tempting finance offers available. Splash a shade under £4,000 on a deposit, and Mini’s currently offering a Countryman Cooper for £249 a month over four years as part of a PCP deal.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Recommendations

Tech Junkie

1.5 Cooper with Tech Pack – tech junkies should spec the £2,090 Tech Pack, which adds a larger infotainment screen and a Harmon Kardon audio system, amongst other goodies.

Company Car Buyer

2.0 Cooper D – with CO2 emissions of 113g/km, the diesel Mini Countryman is in the 21% BIK band for 2017/18.

Trend Setter

2.0 Cooper S – the Mini Countryman Cooper S might not quite live up to its badge performance wise, it does look the part.

Rivals

Audi Q2

Audi’s trendy new crossover is the latest ‘must-have’. It’s slightly smaller than the Mini, however, and that means you lose out on practicality.

BMW X1

The BMW X1 shares a platform with the Mini Countryman, but it’s more expensive. It’s more grown up, too, which some people will prefer.

Mercedes-Benz GLA

Mercedes-Benz’s baby GLA crossover is far from class leading, despite its £26,175 price tag. Like the X1, its grown-up image might appeal to some.

Nissan Qashqai

The popular Qashqai seems a bit ordinary compared to the Mini Countryman, but there’s a reason it’s so popular. It offers excellent value for money.

Toyota C-HR

The new boy on the block, the Toyota C-HR combines divisive looks with an enjoyable driving experience. The engines let it down, though.

What others say

What Car?

“The Mini Countryman is roomier than its predecessor, but there are still far better options out there.”

The Telegraph

“It's a fabulous enthusiast's car and an absolute hoot to drive on the right road.”

 

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