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MINI Countryman Review: MINI Countryman Review: The Adventurous

MINI Countryman Review: The Adventurous

By Aditya Chatterjee; 7th July, 2012
Introduction

MINI Countryman Review: The Adventurous

 Little did Sir Alexander Arnold Constantine Issigonis know that his creation of a small cost and fuel efficient car in the shortest possible duration on a mere napkin would attain such cult status.

The MINI, which started as a concept was more focused on the utility and practicality of a small car packing in the most space possible with the handling of a Go-Kart. Interesting as it sounds as a cost effective budget car need not be a track performer at all but then thanks to a certain John Cooper, the famous race car builder , who was  part of this project since its inception.

 

 

The Cooper series have evolved a long way from the time it was first introduced. They aren’t any MINIer but then have got a lot meaner and aggressive in design instead without losing on the core essence and value MINIs are known for.

Launched in India recently, it has caught the attention of many. When we were given an option to choose from, I anxiously chose the MINI Countryman over the other petite variants to get a big bite of the premium so called SUV, is it really an “Adventurous” way of spending a premium amount?

MINI Countryman

 

Exterior

It has been long since I got my hands on an authentic retro styled car and not just mere retro inspiration. Reviewing regular cars is a mundane activity but then this was beyond a normal review as it was not just me testing the MINI but also the MINI testing my limits.

MINI Countryman

The MINI Countryman is officially a SUV, but kindly do not get the compare SUV vs SUV list and demean this car. The looks of the Countryman can lure anyone and everyone. It can make your superiors envy and juniors look upto you. Park it anywhere and the entire scene becomes apt to be inked on a canvas.

If Elvis features in your playlist too often then the MINI Countryman should be gracing your parking lot. This crossover had been designed to bring the inspiring cues of the MINI Cooper hatch to a Sports Activity Vehicle. The Countryman was the first MINI Cooper to come with 4 doors and a seating capacity of 5 people in addition of breaking the 4 metre length of the normal MINIs.

All the MINI enthusiasts can vouch for the trademark short and wide bulldog stance that the Cooper design endorses. Though, back in the days when the Cooper was designed it didn’t pack as much people, attitude and fun as the modern day versions and rightly so as in those days it was more about simple subtle life where the tunes on radio were very soothing but then fast forward to present time and the immediate aggression and attitude is evident in everything which has also crawled in on the MINI design language.

The short and stout hexagon grille nose of the Countryman sticks out from the front face sniffing all that comes on its way. Immediately after the radiator grille is an additional air intake slit, which sucks in all the air and supplies the same to the engine as well as at the brakes. 

MINI Countryman

Seems it takes a lot to cool this angry bulldog then just patting its head and giving it a normal snack. In addition to the air intakes under the radiator grille there are some additional air scoops on the front bumper, which channelize the incoming air to the brakes again. The brakes thus need to get cooled through many ways.

Ask any toddler to design a small car and he would design something similar to what the MINI Countryman would look from side view. The front pillars don’t have an envious aerodynamic design but they still don’t loose on the styling and character of the MINI. The design of front pillars is extended to the side panel with a chrome strip, which also has the side indicator along with the red “S” badging. 

The roofline runs tall and parallel to the shoulder line. Door handles done in chrome are an elegant touch. A trendy rear quarter glass after the C pillar extends the hatch suitably and merges it with the tall rear gate door with an integrated spoiler.

The bulging wheel arches surrounding the massive 205/55 R16 are way too impressive. I won’t say the stance and the wheels will really encourage you to use it like a go-anywhere-SUV but then who cares as the cult value of the vehicle overshadows everything.

Carrying the trademark tail lights, the rear of this premium SUV is no less impressive. Beginning with the chunky and visually appealing tail lights which has a chrome treatment around, the design is not loud but is very bold in nature. The waistline sits at a considerable height with the MINI logo affixed in the middle and the Cooper S syllables on the right completing it. 

MINI Countryman

The rear bumpers, which has lots of fancy contours holds the shot gun sounding chrome tipped exhausts. The rear bumpers are meaty and protrude out too similar to the front bumpers. The bulging lines of the wheel arches on both the sides are carried on the rear bumpers as well with a small chrome section.

The MINI Countryman like all other MINIs believes in the theme of glamour. It proves that a woman can look beautiful with the curves and turns at the right places and the chiseled and soaked runway model’s look is a passé. 

Interior

Venice is your favorite holiday destination. The only time you endure the heat of the sun is probably while taking a sun bath on an exotic beach. There is a chartered Jet at your service always. If all these have a check before them then the MINI Countryman can be your way of spending an adventurous weekend.

MINI Countryman

It is not at all embarrassing for me to accept the fact that it was my first encounter with something as historic and cult as the MINI. So the moment I got inside, it took me sometime to realize that I am finally seating inside a MINI Cooper. A car, which features in the dream cars list of many including mine. 

Jump in and with the thud of those doors you leave the modern monotone out and enter a world of retro cool. An old school design which has tremendous potential to leave you in a state of awe. This Cult classic makes the other cars stoop down in shame with its flamboyant classic curves all over.

The just right size steering wheel has paddle gear shifters with which you can shift into higher and lower gears both ways. The steering wheel has audio controls, phone paring option as well as the voice guidance system too. A chunky and sporty tachometer demands your attention as soon as seated. It’s a Cooper S so the sporty theme is obvious with its racy digits and needles. 

The centrally located speedometer is a visual treat. If you have smart kids at home, they will find a resemblance between the Speedometer and Micky Mouse, as the twin AC vents on the speedometer resemble Micky’s ears. The speedometer also has the infotainment system embedded in it.  The dangling speedo needle is superb and you have to take good efforts to make the needle climb its way over the top and go to the other side.

MINI Countryman

The theme behind the interiors of the MINI Countryman remains to be Circles and Chrome. Be it the retro propeller styled AC vents or the speedo and the tacho arrangement. 

Central console has chrome switches for windows and central locking with nice intermediate chrome brackets. Chrome also finds its way on the sporty accelerator and brake pedals along with on the dead pedal. A short and stout auto transmission stick has the S badging on it as well and immediately after the sticks lies the circular controls for controlling the infotainment system.

The MINI is a British car by its origin and so the roots have a very strong influence throughout the car. The raised seats, which have to be adjusted manually (paying close to Rs. 45 lakhs and getting manually adjustable seats is not too much of a comfort) finally make you realize that this is not the regular hatch, which the blokes used in Italian Job but instead is the big brother of it. 

Even though the sports seats are a standard on the Countryman, they won’t have a negative impact on you. The seats are extremely convenient and its tall height makes it easy to move in and out of the cabin. The legroom offered for both the row of passengers is very generous and is not at all cramped in any which way. The same goes for the headroom offered which is greater than the conventional Cooper hatch.

MINI Countryman

The door trims have been tastefully done. The grains on the interiors are very eye catchy. Fluidic lines flowing on the door trims of the front and the rear door join each other. This car is a classic and there is always an instance of discovering something new every time. Below the hand rest, lies a stylish Sun glass holder. It was a welcome change over the one situated near the middle rear view mirror. This one has a glossy finish and can be adjusted across a track and the best part, it has the “MINI” label on it. The curvaceous chrome door handles are truly retro and not some inspired design, which makes them stand out.

The storage options start with a grand glove box, which was more than happy to gulp in all the stuff we threw in it. A good recess on both the door trims and twin cup holders on the central console. Luggage space at rear is 350 liters, which is lesser than that in BMW X1 which also costs cheaper. But saying all of that, no one would buy a MINI in comparison to other cars the reason being its expensive but then only connoisseurs of cars would own it.

Performance

This rockstar is powered by a 4 cylinder 1598cc Twin Turbo petrol engine, which produces a power of 184 bhp at an engine speed of 5500 rpm and a torque of 240 Nm between ranges of 1600 – 5500 rpm. The unit is meshed with a 6 speed automatic shift which can also be plated around with a paddle shift on the steering wheel.

MINI Countryman

It’s an epic ride indeed. The cooling of the cabin may not be the strongest point of the vehicle especially for the rear half, which should have some cooling channel to it. Electrically adjustable front seats are missed a lot especially considering its price tag. 

The above are the small MINI lows compared to the major highs. Let’s start with the Harman/Kardon music system. The name features among the top notch alongside Bang & Olufsen audio systems. A 6.5 inch screen for the infortainment system with ten high end speakers paired with a 480 watt amplifier, the music system is second to none in any premium hatch.

Coming to the tastiest part of the review is the drive. Slide in the key and press the Start button. Behold as an orchestra of tunes from the engine and the exhaust start rolling in tandem. Even if you have the most matured approach towards life and like the calm and serenity of surroundings, this bad girl will lure you to do things against it. At an age, when one should be behaving in a composed manner, I lose it every time I step inside such maniac headed machines, observed it during my AMG drive too and then now in the MINI Countryman. 

MINI Countryman

Just keep pushing the throttle more and more and the coarse scream of the MINI will give you a high. Leave the brakes and you shall blur through the streets with an ease. With the low profiles, the grip is sure tight and the Go-Kart handling can be experienced properly.

This is an SUV but then it is not just a mass people hauling vehicle, it is a MINI so the performance of it has to justify the 4 syllables. It is capable of doing 0 to 100 in 7.9 seconds and can reach a top whack of 210 kmph. The acceleration timing could not be verified but could be very well experienced and felt. The MINI Countryman was the most notorious rides we have reviewed so far.

Traffic Signals, Parking lots, Streets, Highways, Restaurants... park it anywhere and you are the star in it. Women who are normally not to keen on identifying cars are all eyes on this one. Men, Boys, Girls and Women even the kids want to see it and be in it. The quick response from the steering wheel and the paddle shifts are the biggest crooks of the vehicle as they don’t let your brains control you but they control you instead. They will make you race in the narrowest of the lanes and longest of the stretches on the highway. In fact, on the highway we faced some good cars who wanted to race with this, the best one being a Toyota Fortuner.

MINI Countryman

The suspensions are fantastic courtesy its rallying heritage and so are the brakes which can bring the vehicle to a complete standstill without disturbing anyone. The superb handling and brakes are also because of the combine efforts of the Dynamic Stability Control, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, and Cornering Brake control. This angry bulldog needs a lot of controls to remain tamed. 

During the review drive, there were 2 questions which I often faced from people. How much does it cost? And what is the fuel efficiency of it? . Seeing my shy smile, the question was gracefully passed over. Who buys an iconic car and cribs about fuel figures?  But still for the ones eager to know, we got a worst mileage of 5.8 kmpl and a best mileage of 10 kmpl.

Safety aspect of the MINI Countryman is taken care by three point inertia reel seat belts; the front seats have belt tensioners and belt force limiters. The Countryman S also comes with the runflat technology which is also seen in BMW vehicles. 

Tech specs
Technical Specifications
 Make Mini cooper countryman
 Model Countryman S ALL4
Engine Capacity (cc) 1598/4 -
Power (PS/RPM) 121/6000 184/5500
Torque (Nm/RPM) 154/4250  158/1600-5000
Transmission 6/A 6/A
Dimensions in mm
Groud clearence - -
Length 4110 4110
Width 1789 1789
Height 1561 1561
Wheel Base 2595 2595
Claimed fuel efficiency in KMPL 12.3 city 12.3
Curb weight (kgs) 1805 1805
Cargo Capacity in Liters 350 350
0-100KMPH 7.9  seconds 7.9  seconds
Top Speed 210 KMPH 210 KMPH
Wheels 17' Alloy wheels Optional 18"Alloy wheels
Tyre size 205/55 R16 205/55 R17
Fuel tank capacity 47L 47L
Features
Features Countryman CountrymanS CountrymanALL4
Automatic airconditioning Yes Yes Yes
Automatic transmission with steptronic Yes Yes Yes
Central locking with immobiliser and crash sensor Yes Yes Yes
Leather upholstery Yes Yes Yes
Fog lights Yes Yes Yes
Sports leather steering wheel Yes Yes Yes
Multifunction steering wheel Yes Yes Yes
Rain and light sensor Yes Yes Yes
Park distance control, rear Yes Yes Yes
Electric seat adjustment with memory for driver seat Yes Yes Yes
HiFi loudspeaker system Yes Yes Yes
CD changer for 6 CD Yes Yes Yes
Driver and front passanger airbag Yes Yes Yes
Head airbag front to rear Yes Yes Yes
Side airbag driver and front passanger Yes Yes Yes
Cornering Brake Control Yes Yes Yes
Dynamic stability control Yes Yes Yes
Dynamic traction control Yes Yes Yes
Competition
Specifications
Mini
Audi
Volkswagen
Variant Mini cooper countryman Audi Q3 2.0 TFSI Quattro Petrol Beetle 2.0 Petrol
Ex Show room price  Mumbai in lakh - - -
Engine Capacity (L) 1598 1984 1984
Power (PS/RPM) 121/6000 170/6200 116/5400
Torque (NM) 154/4250  280/4200 172/3200
Dimensions in mm
Length 4110 4385 4129
Width 1789 1831 1721
Height 1561 1427 1498
Wheel Base 2595 1608 2502
Claimed fuel efficiency in KMPL 12.3 12 -
Tyre size 205/55 R16 205/60 R16 195/65 R15
Top speed KMPH 210 210 210
Kerb weight 1805 2100 1870
Tank capacity in Liters 47 65 52
Ex showroom Mumbai 3342900 2621000 2177179
Conclusion

The MINI Countryman comes in a petrol powered 1.6L configuration in India, while internationally a 2.0L diesel version is also available. The Cooper D would make a lot of sense for India the now-a-diesel-fan country. But then the cost calculations involved in getting a 2.0L unit won’t be justified.

MINI Countryman

Secondly, not that the MINI Countryman is of any less fun but then the fun factor could have been raised with a manual shift gearbox. A manual shift gearbox with the rev happy motor would be an epic combination and the sportiness of the MINI would be unchallenged by anyone in that segment.

The MINI Countryman is indeed a pricy car. I have mentioned it before too that it does not stand very strong if compared with the regular cars in the same price segment but then History comes at a price. This car is truly a cult.  The MINI can take you the closest to own a high performance sports car. Don’t think much, just make sure your dad loves you a lot and this is the best way he can prove it to you.

Let’s see how strong the Flamboyant MINI Cooper S holds to the adventurous Countryman, when we review it sometime soon.