Saturday, 1 March 2014

The MINI Countryman isn't as bad as everyone makes out

I GET the feeling this particular article is going to be an expensive one.

The trouble is, I’ve ended up spending three days in a car which everyone loves to hate. In order to dissuade me from being too nice about it, my friends have used Facebook to set up a £10-per-compliment fines system, payable next time I see them in the pub.

A tricky call when the car in question is the MINI Countryman.

It’s one of a trio of jacked-up, off-roader-esque diesel hatchbacks (or ‘crossovers’ in automotive marketing speak) I’ve had the privilege to try out lately, with my weekend in the most massive MINI of them all coming after stints in Honda’s latest CR-V and Volkswagen’s Tiguan. It’s probably worth tackling the rather bloated, retro elephant in the room first; the MINI is, to my mind at least, the ugliest of the three.

I didn’t like the styling when I roadtested it forThe Champion three years ago and it still doesn’t look great now – it’s not that it’s a ridiculously oversized retro pastiche of the original Mini, but that, compared to the Honda and VW it just seems a bit blobby and ill defined. Perhaps as a conscious result of how it looks, the boot is also noticeably smaller than most of its rivals too.

Sadly, I don’t get a tenner back for every time I’m critical of the Countryman, so a few callous comments about its styling aren’t going to help me. Annoyingly, there are quite a few things the Countryman has in its favour.

The interior, for instance, is far more imaginative than anything else in its class, and if you’ve spent a lifetime on the M6 being bored by the relentless sea of grey trim and unassuming buttons in most modern motors then you’ll love the MINI’s rocker switches, lashings of chrome and the silly, pizza dish-sized speedo.

It’s also quiet at speed, rides superbly, is more than roomy enough for you and four of your average-sized chums, and it comes with the same feeling of sturdiness you’d expect from a car masterminded by BMW.
What you might not be expecting – and I definitely wasn’t until I ventured off the motorway and onto the quiet country lanes criss-crossing Cheshire – is that the MINI Cooper D Countryman handles and steers so much better than any of its chief rivals. There is, I begrudgingly admit, a faint whiff of Nineties hot hatch about the way it chews up corners, and a confidence-inspiring finesse to the steering I genuinely wasn’t expecting.

Given twenty grand it’s not the crossover I’d go for – that’d still be the Skoda Yeti – but the Countryman is far better than my mates give it credit for.

Mates who, by my reckoning, I now owe roughly £80. Oops.


  1. When i saw the films of Mr Bean, i love this car. And now i'm using a new model of MINI. I love my car. I don't care what people think about this car. In my mind, it' good. I feel comfortable with my vehicle.

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  2. It's my favorite car and i love this car a lot.It's a cool vehicle and its the most comfortable car for me. I have its latest model and i really enjoyed when i ride on it. I think it's quite cool and good.

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  3. Thanks for sharing this information and the great car and looks nice and really good and because of my vehicle and enjoyed when a ride in it.

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