Mini SUV is good to drive, but not as practical as some rivals
The Mini Countryman, first introduced in 2010, was a big step into mainstream motoring for Mini. Up until the Countryman’s introduction, BMW owned Mini only produced retro, impractical hatchbacks. The Countryman offered buyers greater practicality, whilst still keeping the iconic looks. This has been a winning combination, and the Countryman is hugely popular in the UK. It’s not as practical as some of its rivals, and it’s also more expensive, but the looks are enough to win over a lot of buyers.
An update in 2014 featured a minor facelift, as well as an updated interior.
Doesn’t quite live up to the premium image
The Mini Countryman is one of the more expensive small SUVs currently on sale, so you would expect it to have an interior to match. Style wise, the Countryman is equally as impressive as its smaller brothers, but material quality is unfortunately compromised.
The dashboard of the Countryman looks much like that in the standard Mini, with a centre-mounted infotainment system, and funky dials and controls throughout. Without a doubt, it looks impressive, but for some reason the quality of materials used in the Countryman isn’t so good. There’s quite a lot of hard, scratchy plastics, which is disappointing to see in a premium-priced SUV.
Space wise, there’s obviously a lot more space than there is in the standard Mini. With 350 litres of boot capacity, there’s enough for room for most family needs. Unfortunately however, the shape of the boot is a little bit awkward, and with the seats folded down there’s a big gap between the boot floor and the back of the seats. It’s also not as big as you’d find in a Skoda Yeti (416 litres), so it’s far from the most practical car in its class.
Equipment levels in the Countryman are pretty basic on entry-level models. The cheapest one trim features very little equipment, and neither does the standard Cooper trim. An upgrade to the Salt, Pepper, or Chilli pack is essential to get even the most basic of family needs. It’s disappointing to see that Mini have scrimped in this area, especially as the Countryman isn’t cheap to begin with.
Overall the interior of the Countryman is a little bit disappointing. The design is undoubtedly attractive, but the quality of materials is substandard, and it’s far from the biggest car in its class. With such sparse standard equipment as well, it doesn’t really offer the best value for money in its class.
On The Road
Good to drive, but not as fun as the standard Mini
When you see the Mini badge, you instantly associate it with cars that are exceptionally good to drive. The Countryman doesn’t quite live up to these standards. Despite this, it’s still a lot better than some of its rivals. Steering is fairly sharp and responsive, and there’s plenty of grip. It won’t quite have you grinning from ear-to-ear, but it’s fun enough to occasionally put a smile on your face.
Ride refinement in the Countryman isn’t up there with the best cars in the class. There’s an awful lot of road and wind noise at high speeds, which makes the Countryman not the best car for long journeys, particularly if you’re going to be travelling predominantly on motorways. And as the Countryman has quite a stiff chassis and suspension system, it also fails to cope with bad road surfaces, with jolts carrying through into the cabin.
Gearbox options in the Countryman come in two guises. The standard option is a six-speed manual transmission that’s solid to use, though first gear is a little close to reverse. It does however have a short throw, which makes changing gear snappy. The optional automatic gearbox may be useful for those without a standard license, though it can sometimes miss gears, especially if you push it.
Entry-level engines are slow, but there’s enough variety to suit most needs
When it comes to deciding how you want to power your Countryman, you’ve got the usual two options: petrol, or diesel. Entry-level petrol and diesel engines are borrowed directly from the Mini One, and feel a little underpowered due to the Countryman's increased heft.
If it’s power that you want from your Countryman, the best engine in the range is the petrol-powered 1.6 John Cooper Works ALL4. This engine is tuned to give it greater performance, and produces 218bhp, and a mightily quick 6.9 second 0-62mph time. For a car this size, this feels fast. Very fast. Few cars in this class can compete with the sheer pace of this model, though it’s a little thirstier than a lot of the Countryman range.
The Countryman range is quite eco-friendly, though not class-leading. Nevertheless, the diesel-powered 1.6 litre Cooper D produces just 111g/km of CO2 emissions, so you won’t be paying too much in road tax. This model also happens to be the best option for money-savers. With up to 67.3mpg on offer, you can save plenty of money at the fuel pumps.
Whichever engine you choose to go for, you’re more than likely going to have enough power, relatively low CO2 emissions, and decent fuel efficiency. Though entry-level petrol and diesel models may look tempting however, they don’t have enough grunt to shift the Countryman’s increased weight.
Full marks in NCAP safety tests, good standard safety kit
Like nearly every car in its class, the Mini Countryman easily achieved the highest possible 5-star NCAP safety rating. With scores of 84% in adult safety, 83% in child safety, and 63% in pedestrian protection, it’s not up there with the best in its class, but it’s still pretty safe. There’s also good safety equipment as standard. Even the most basic models come with six airbags, dynamic stability control, and a tyre-pressure monitoring system. Dynamic traction control is also available as an optional extra.
Value for money
Decent value for money, if you avoid the cost of new-car depreciation
The Mini Countryman offers buyers reasonable value for money. This obviously varies from model to model, but generally speaking CO2 emissions are low, and fuel efficiency is high throughout the range. Diesel-powered Countrymans are the pick of the bunch if you want to save some real money, but even they aren’t quite up there with the best value in the class, especially when you consider that the Countryman is more expensive than most rivals.
Insurance for the Countryman is actually pretty good value, especially when you compare it to its little brother. It again varies from model to model, but the Countryman is relatively cheap when it comes to insurance. As an example, the cheapest model in the range is the 1.6 One, which is in group 8, whilst the most expensive is the top of the range 1.6 John Cooper Works ALL4 which is in group 28.
Depreciation is a factor with the Countryman, but only if you choose to buy from new. With first year depreciation as high as 40%, you’re better off opting for an inspected used equivalent.
The Mini Countryman is a solid, but flawed attempt at a SUV from Mini. It’s more practical than the standard Mini, but it suffers from poorer interior quality, less efficient engines, and a less rewarding driving experience. Compare it to its direct rivals, and it’s falls short of the class-leaders.
Buying a used Mini Countryman online with Carspring
If you’re after a used Mini Countryman for sale, it can all feel like a bit of an ordeal. What, with long days spent around gigantic car supermarkets, or time spent trawling through classified websites, looking for that ideal used Countryman. Carspring makes it simple. Buy your next used Mini Countryman online with the touch of a button. Simply decide on the model you want and choose how you want to pay.
Looking to finance your used Mini? Not a problem, we work with our carefully selected finance partners to ensure that, if you’re paying monthly for your used Mini Countryman, you know you’re getting the best rates. What’s more, with any Carspring used Countryman, you also get our 14-day money-back guarantee and 6 months’ free Carspring Warranty. Plus, you don’t have to leave your home. We’ll deliver your used Mini to you at a time and place of your choice.
*This is an approximate figure based on the range of the car’s list price and the AA’s average 1st-year depreciation cost of 40%.