Mini Countryman review: not so mini, but a massive improvement

Speed up, though, and you can see what Mini's engineers were looking for. With modestly sized 18in wheels there's compliance and responsiveness; it feels quite old-fashioned and hence more suited to flood-damaged roads than a car with larger-diameter wheels or stronger springs that you'd normally associate with BMW suspension. This basic version of the Countryman rides pretty well over sharp bumps and potholes.

And it's quite sporting, too, with direct and responsive steering allied to a well-balanced chassis, although this set-up is likely to be more appreciated at medium speeds than in anything approaching full-bore motoring. It is, after all, a family car.

The Telegraph verdict

Provided you can forget this is a Mini (there's a side bet on when Mini reintroduces the Maxi name) and is in fact an on-trend family crossover/SUV with a lot of pointless software doodads, the Countryman is a pretty decent way of conveying your family around the country. I'm not sure I love the looks, and the ride is a bit bouncy, but it's quite an enthusiastic machine, with a fair turn of speed and good economy, while the interior feels quite posh.

And at a basic price of GBP28,500, the Countryman C isn't ludicrously overpriced compared with rivals such the Audi Q2[1], VW T-Cross[2], Nissan Qashqai[3] and so on. The pack-based options list, however, is a scary place. Our test car had more than GBP6,500 worth of extras and a total price of GBP35,000, but there were other versions of this "starter" Countryman on the launch fleet which tipped the total in excess of the GBP40,000 list price including options that triggers payment of the UK's GBP390 luxury car tax from years two to six.

While it's nice to sit in John Cooper Works bucket seats and stare at the stars through a panoramic sunroof, I'm not entirely sure they are worth the price of the packs that include them, at GBP2,500 and GBP7,500 respectively. As so often with German marques, if you stay away from the myriad options, you'll get a pretty respectable car.

The facts

On test: Mini Countryman C Body style: Five-door family SUV

On sale: Now How much? From GBP28,500, as tested GBP35,000

How fast?

132mph, 0-62mph in 8.3sec How economical?

44.8mpg (WLTP Combined), 40.2mpg on test Engine & gearbox: 1,499cc three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with mild hybrid system, seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, front-wheel drive

Electric powertrain: 19bhp/40lb ft electric motor Maximum engine power/torque: 168bhp at 4,700rpm, 207lb ft at 1,500rpm CO2 emissions: 143g/km (WLTP Combined)

VED: GBP225 first year, then GBP180 Warranty: 3 years/unlimited mileage

The rivals

Ford Puma ST-Line X, from GBP27,410

Britain's best-selling car last year, the Puma combines cheeky styling with useful gimmicks such as a "wet box" storage space in the boot. The 123bhp/125lb ft 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo engine gives decent performance, along with 52.3mpg and 122g/km.

The six-speed manual gearbox is slick enough to not yearn for an automatic while the ride and handling are terrific, even with larger wheels.

Nissan Qashqai mild hybrid, from GBP27,120

The second-best seller after the Puma, the British-built Qashqai is a class act.

In mild hybrid form it has a 1.3-litre four cylinder engine producing 156bhp and 199lb ft, which gives the family SUV a 122mph top speed, 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds and about 40mpg.

You can pay up to GBP37,940 for the top-specification Tekna+ model, but the GBP29,720 Acenta Premium should more than cover it.


  1. ^ Audi Q2 (
  2. ^ VW T-Cross (
  3. ^ Nissan Qashqai (