Mini Countryman Cooper Review: weekend testing
I used to be a tragic and proud owner of a 2002 Cooper S.. It’s fun to drive with the right looks. With these beautiful memories, I consider the second-generation Mini Countryman – an SUV no less and no less. How un-Mini.
To see if this perception is relevant to reality, I spent the weekend with the entry-level Cooper, listed at $ 39,900 with the Chili LED package for an additional $ 1,500 (well worth getting). For money there is an incredible number of standard sets included, all of which are elegantly packed in sophisticated Mini style.
With three kids under the age of 11, I drove two-door hot hatchbacks like the 2002 Cooper S that was behind me for a long time (or at least until they were older). The qualities I’ve been looking for such as ‘happy to drive’ now give way to ‘real’, while ‘cute appearance’ and ‘perfect ratio’ sit in the back seat to ‘look quite reasonable’ ‘and’ generous boot ‘.
This latest Countryman is the largest car Mini has ever made and it certainly looks like that – giving the impression all the fun has been sucked out leaving a sedated mature version in place of it. Children ‘s first impression of the car though could not be any different.
So is this Mini Countryman realistic and still showing a smile on its face?
See also: Read Andrew Chesterton’s review review here.
Saturday morning is a stunner and the beach is calling. When unlocking the car, we are greeted with a cool LED system that illuminates the Mini logo on the driver’s side. When its novelty disappeared, my three children were piled up with planks, towels and immediately did not participate in the cool cabin features.
My old 2002 Cooper S had a lot cheaper plastic than the entire Beverly Hills Housewives cast, but this new Mini was more elegantly grown – mixing joy with sophisticated design.
Once inside the car, all eyes are on the bright round screen and highlighting areas of the door and floor – a prominent feature of children. One of my favorite tools from the Mini, the toggle switch, featuring a red start button is a tool to grab attention. If you like tactile material this car offers.
Leaving the beach to return home, I lost one of my children to a play day but picked up two more passengers. I suspect all four of them are covering their ears because I insist they still try to bring a large amount of beach sand into the cabin.
It never felt cramped or failed to put a smile on the dial of anyone (all who happened to be under 11) who rode it.
For the purpose of the kids taxi around the 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine works well and for me the surprise package of the car. Matching a six-speed automatic transmission it feels capable and even more challenging at times than I imagined.
When I got home, I proceeded to get the vacuum before spending a good part in the afternoon trying to remove the sand. Pain is it in every corner, every corner of the car. This is where floor mats come in handy – removing these has helped remove most of the beach debris.
Sunday mornings are set aside for picnics and transportation for dating and shopping. The largest mini handles it easily. It comfortably fits four of us, our picnic gear and our shopping bags.
The two cup holders in front saw lots of action carrying coffee mugs as well as door pockets – providing a temporary home for children to drink bottles, hair brushes, hair ties and iPads. It never felt cramped or failed to put a smile on the dial of anyone (all who happened to be under 11) who rode it.
The electric rear end with foot motion sensor is a welcome feature with the number of devices usually kept around and used frequently. The boot space is spacious (with upright seats) and spacious with the seats folded flat (40:20:40) and there’s even more convenient storage space with a compartment under the boot floor.
The shopping mall’s parking lot provided the proper time to check the reversing camera (standard on this model) and the front, rear and side parking sensors. For street parking, a handy feature (or party trick for entertaining three children) is an automated parking system to help you park parallel in those tight spots.
It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in Sydney and Dad called to suggest a trip to watch the local rugby game. Taking my son for a ride, I took a detour to test Mini’s ability to drive a little bit more. Most SUVs make me wonder why ‘S’ stands for ‘Sport’ rather than ‘Suburban’. Not a Countryman, the car is both confident and enjoyable to drive.
The three-cylinder engine has surprisingly efficient flanks – especially the acceleration. On the other hand, the speedo hand moves decisively slower when pushing it above 70km / h in which you feel each of its cylinders works overtime.
The engine aside the steering and the feeling is decided to be Mini (especially in Sport mode) and can make you forget you’re driving an SUV with children when you go. The front seats are super comfortable and shape to keep you snug and well supported. From design to materials used, there’s an upscale feeling for the cabin inviting drivers and passengers to check each button and switch.