Sunday, November 26, 2017

Devon test drives a Mini Crossover (Used)

Mini Cooper D Countryman (R60) – Frontansicht, 11. Februar 2013, Düsseldorf.jpg

Have you ever considered a Mini but was turned away because they were too small for you taste? Well cheer up, the Countryman is the newest and biggest Mini ever produced. It's nearly as large a Volkswagen Golf and is designed to appeal to a broader audience. With that said, does Mini have what it takes to draw those buyers in? Let's find out. 

Performance: There are three versions of the 1.6-liter engine available. All three share their roots with the rest of the Mini line-up. Price conscious buyers will most likely choose the Countryman with the standard 1.6 with 122hp. There's plenty of pace around town, while on the highway you'll have to rev it harder to get up to pace. Mid-range turbo form produces 180hp and is available with all-wheel-drive. Top of the range is the JCW trim which offers a more potent 208hp. Pick of the range depends on what you desire most from your Countryman. We suggest sticking with either the Cooper or Cooper S trims. 

Ride & Handling: Handling is agile with plenty of grip corners, but it isn't as fun to drive as the standard hardtop or a Volkswagen Golf. The ride never really feels settled on rough surfaces and the steering weights up way too quickly when entering corners. 

Refinement: The engines rev smoothly and sound sporty, but too much engine noise can be heard at cruising speeds. Wind noise isn't the problem here, road noise intrudes into the cabin at high levels and makes long journeys feel tiresome. Both transmissions work well with the Countryman. The manual gearbox reverse gear is placed in front of first gear. This makes it very easy to accidentally select reverse instead of first gear. 

Behind the wheel: The Countryman follows design before user-friendliness, and you'll see it in the dashboard layout. The switches and controls feel like they are jammed in where ever there's space and the controls that you do need to operate the most feel fiddly to operate. It will take some time to get used to everything. The view out of the Countryman is spot on, with plenty of adjustments for the driver's seat and steering wheel. 

Space & practicality: There is plenty of room for four adults in the four seat configuration. The standard five seat configuration is just as roomy too but the limited shoulder room and foot room makes it feel like an over glorified four-seater. The boot is a decent size and offers plenty of room, but the seats don't fold completely flat which ruins the potential for versatility. 

Equipment: The Mini Countryman has a decent amount of standard features, but you'll have to pay for the extras such as Xenon headlamps, key less start, rain sensing windshield wipers and other little goodies. Roof rails and Bluetooth and HD radio are standard on the Cooper trim. You'll have to step up the the JCW to get the unique body-kit and larger alloy wheels. 

Buying & Owning: The Countryman starting price is attractive, but keep in mind that the base trim is rather stingy on equipment. You'll have to pay the extra if you want the luxury features no matter what trim you choose. We highly suggest keeping the options list light if you want to keep the cost of your Countryman down. Fuel costs shouldn't be too bad if you stick with the front wheel-drive versions. Resale value should be strong as demand for the Countryman has been strong. 

Quality & Reliability: The Countryman has a premium image, but it is let down due to some very iffy looking plastics used inside the cabin. Some of the switchgear quality is so-so and the overall impression is mixed. Reliability record for Mini has been rather patchy. Mechanical reliability has been average. 

Safety & Security: Across the range you'll find traction control, electronic stability program and anti-lock-brakes. Some trims add all-wheel-drive which adds an extra leg in safety for winter driving and slippery surfaces. All trims come with front and side curtain airbags as standard. An engine immobilizer with deadlocks are standard, but an alarm system is only offered as optional. 

The Countryman is roomy for four and makes the most sense if you want something larger than the Clubman. However, compared to the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus. The Countryman seems a tad bit overpriced. The interior quality is iffy and the equipment level is just down right stingy. If you like the Mini Brand but wanted something a bit more practical. The Countryman is for you, otherwise we strongly suggest looking at some of its more sensible rivals. 

Devon's Pick: Mini Countryman Cooper S adds everyone's favorite turbo engine at a decent price that's hard to pass up. You can add Mini's all-wheel-drive system for a slightly hefty premium. The Mini with just front-wheel-drive combo more than enough for most drivers. 

Likes: Spacious interior for four passengers. Turbo versions offer the most rewarding driving experience. Available all-wheel-drive system. 

Dislikes: Mini is stingy with equipment. The options you'll most likely want will push the price sky high. Ride comfort is rather disappointing. Dashboard layout is confusing with too many fiddly controls. Not as fun to drive as the Hardtop Mini.

Devon's Pick: There are several versions of the Countryman to choose from. Those who seek the Countryman but want it at a reasonable price, we strongly suggest sticking with the standard Cooper trim which seems to be the most reasonably priced. It may not be as engaging to drive as the Cooper S or JCW, but it does its job well. Running costs should be respectable too. The Cooper S is the more fun to drive trim thanks to the turbo engine, but you'll have to remember that Mini is rather stingy when it comes to equipment. So you'll have to pay a pretty penny to get one up to your desired specs. This is why we strongly suggest looking at the Countryman rivals first before settling with it. 

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