SA-bound Countryman is Mini’s biggest, boldest yet
Mini’s new, second-generation Countryman is not mini at all – in fact, it’s the biggest model the BMW-owned brand has ever built. RPM TV attended the international launch of the new Countryman near its manufacturing plant in Oxfordshire in the UK earlier this week.
Responding to customer demands for a car that is more versatile and fit for purpose for one-car families, Mini designed the Countryman to be more versatile, with more space than the outgoing model, while attempting to retain the driving fun for which the brand is famous.
Our initial impression on a two-day drive through some of the English countryside is that they were certainly successful on one front: the Countryman has impressive headroom all round, and the rear legroom is also extremely generous.
The Cooper Countryman is fitted with Mini’s three-cylinder 1,5-litre motor, but we drove the Cooper S Countryman ALL4, which packs a 2,0-litre turbo motor putting out 141 kW and 280 Nm, driving all four wheels through an eight-speed auto gearbox.
The ride set-up is a highlight, keeping things composed and comfortable on the UK’s notoriously bumpy, twisty – and often slippery – B-roads. It’s a pity then that the South African market will only be getting the front-wheel drive versions of the Cooper and Cooper S.
All-wheel drive will be reserved for the John Cooper Works, which arrives mid-year. Other models to be added in future include a diesel and a plug-in hybrid.
The interior of the Countryman is fairly regulation Mini. There aren’t major changes to the layout, with the now familiar chunky switchgear and centrally mounted circular display remaining. But the tech has been upgraded.
There is the option of an 8-inch touch screen, and a host of enhancements to the Mini Connected universe – including Bluetooth-enabled tags that can be attached to keys, bags and other items in case they get left behind or misplaced.
Boot space has been improved, and there is also the option of a powered tailgate, with hands-free access.
At launch, the South African Countryman range will consist of the following:
Mini Cooper Countryman 6-speed manual R422 000
Mini Cooper Countryman S 6-speed automatic R440 000
Mini Cooper Countryman 6-speed manual R490 000
Mini Cooper Countryman S 8-speed automatic R509 500
Our full review of the new Mini Countryman will be on RPM TV soon – click here for to be added to our mailing list so you don’t miss out!