With its bug-eyed headlights, cheeky smile and Union Jack-inspired taillights, the 2021 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 is prettier than a basket of puppies. Behind that adorable facade is an extraordinarily refined interior, one that is also much more spacious than one might expect from a company whose name is synonymous with small. The Countryman makes a good first impression, but dig a little deeper and you’ll soon find it’s far from perfect.
- Premium interior
- Spacious rear seat
- Cheeky style
I do not like
- What?! I can’t hear you for the noise of the tires
- Acute lack of driving aids
- Disinterested dynamics
- No android cars
The Countryman competes with small mainstream crossovers like theis , but a wide range of models allows this Mini to have a foot even in the premium field. Its more exclusive rivals include the petite , is .
With the first-rate Iconic trim, the Countryman’s interior is one of its most attractive features. There are plenty of low-gloss soft plastics and high-quality controls, and how not to love Mini’s retro-inspired toggle switches? My tester’s dashboard is partially covered in hazelnut brown leather which looks great and feels even better. These cowhides spill onto the seats, where the material is embellished with a diamond-stitch pattern and contrasting profiles.
The front bucket chairs are chiropractor approved and I particularly like the extendable lower supports, which provide additional support for taller people. Helping to keep glare at bay, the driver gets a secondary visor mounted on the headliner to prevent the sun from hitting sideways. Despite being a Mini, there are miles of space in the back seat of this vehicle as well. Lanky passengers have ample space in all three dimensions.
As a schlepper, the Countryman is decently comfortable, offering 17.6 cubic feet of space behind the second row seat and 47.6 cubes with the backrests folded. There is also a generous under-floor storage, a great place to store smaller items out of the way. These figures are right in line with an Audi Q3, but a little shy of whatoffers. Annoyingly, however, it is not possible to fold the rear seat away from the cargo area. Instead, you have to pull three separate cords in the second row to make the 40/20/40 split backrest fall completely.
Beyond that, there are other ergonomic quirks. Interior door handles, for example, appear to be set back. The place where you take these semi-circular chrome levers is at the front, so you have to twist your wrist to access them. I found this kind of annoying, but Mini owners apparently don’t, as the company says they haven’t received any complaints about it, so maybe they’re just an outlier.
The Countryman has a digital instrument cluster, but does not offer driver-selectable information screens, which is unusual. What you see is basically what you get. At least for 2022 you will be able to change the color scheme.
On-board technology is a major sore point with the Countryman. My tester’s very large but short 8.8-inch multimedia display with integrated navigation feels cramped. Thinking about it, you can control things two ways, via the touchscreen or a control knob on the center console. Closely related to, this Mini infotainment system is performant, starts instantly and responds smoothly when you pinch and zoom the map, even if it’s not the most intuitive media array you’ll find. Managing radio presets isn’t fun, and there’s no discreet tuning knob for quickly buzzing between stations. With so many menus to scroll or scroll through and a pretty steep learning curve, it’s definitely not one of my favorite infotainment systems, although there are far worse options out there.
By simplifying things, you can always mirror your smartphone, right? Could be. wirelessit is offered with the Touchscreen Navigation and Touchscreen Navigation Plus packages, although it is not included with the standard infotainment system because, according to Mini spokespersons, that basic hardware falls short. The Cooper S Countryman All4 that I am testing here they should have CarPlay, even though I spent at least 15 minutes trying to get it to work and couldn’t, unplugging and reconnecting my phone, plugging it into several USB ports and digging into the owner’s manual for answers, but nothing to do. If you are a Google enthusiast, I have more bad news: it is not supported at all. The mini reps say they are working on the implementation of this technology, although there is no time frame in which it might be available.
The Countryman comes with a forward collision warning, but other advanced driving aids are nowhere to be found. Lane centering technology is not on the menu and blind spot monitoring is not available on any Mini model. At least adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality is offered on the Countryman, bundled in the driver assistance package along with a head-up display and automatic parking. Unfortunately, though, my tester doesn’t come with this $ 1,250 option group. Things are improving slightly for 2022, as lane departure warning is now standard across the Mini product portfolio, and items found in the Countryman’s driver assistance package come standard with the Iconic upholstery (and are available even in the low-end variants). But still, this brand is behind the technology curve.
Under its curvy bonnet, this Countryman is equipped with the top-tier 2.0-liter I4 turbo. It offers 189 horsepower and 207 foot-pounds of torque, significantly more oomph than the standard three-cylinder engine, although the Countryman plug-in hybrid is stronger than that andeven more powerful. In this example, the torsion is addressed to the front or to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Even though it is equipped with a torque converter, it often feels like a low-speed dual clutch gearbox as the gearboxes are a bit clunky at times. Once underway, things smooth out.
Expect 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway from the Cooper S Countryman All4. Combined, it’s rated at 26mpg, although I average 25 and change in mixed use, which is pretty much right on target.
A dynamic dude
Minis are known for their bold performance and go-kart handling. This is true of the original which debuted in 1959 and particularly the modern version launched in the early 2000s. But every year and every generation, these cars get bigger and bulkier, moving further and further away from what made the Minis so sensational. This is especially true of the Countryman, which, to date, is the brand’s largest and most versatile model. Despite its lively style and sporting claims, this crossover is a bit of a mess, it doesn’t get better to drive than something as mainstream as a.
Conspiring to make the Countryman feel completely ordinary, its transmission is indecisive and sometimes unrefined, the brake pedal is soft underfoot, and unless you put it in Sport mode, the steering has a noticeable dead center in the center . The adaptive dampers of this iconic set-up help keep the body well controlled, stiffening by 10% when switching to Sport mode, but the ride is always a little firmer than necessary. No, the Countryman isn’t so stiff as to bump into bumps or slam into ripples, but it probably doesn’t need to be as starchy as it is, especially since this firmness doesn’t seem to provide any real handling advantage.
The alloy wheels on this vehicle may be stylish, but the 225 / 45R19 Goodyear Eagle F1 tires they are wrapped in convey many noise to the cabin, especially on weather-beaten flooring. At least the engine is soft and smooth, capable of moving the Cooper S Countryman All4 from 0 to 60 mph in around 7.1 seconds. This performance is entirely respectable, even if the vehicle never feels particularly fast. Switch to green drive mode for fuel economy, however, and the powertrain becomes nearly numb, requiring you to practically push the throttle halfway before any changes in vehicle speed manifest.
For the faithful Minis
The Countryman starts at around $ 30,000 including $ 850 in shipping costs. If you need all-wheel drive, it will cost you another two thousand dollars. Of course, the flagship example tested here is more expensive than that, checking out for $ 43,600, a considerable sum considering the driving aids and other features that are missing.
The Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 is one of the most disappointing vehicles I have tested recently. Its iconic style and luxury (and surprisingly spacious) interior is certainly commendable, but the vehicle’s uninspiring dynamics, lack of features and ambitious pricing are its undoing. Unless you consider yourself among the faithful Mini, there are better options than the Countryman.