2021 Mini Countryman Oxford Edition review: Value, but at what cost?

You will never confuse this car for anything else, except maybe for another Mini.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

Mini’s Oxford upholstery is meant to provide great value for new car buyers without breaking the bank. New for 2021, the Mini Countryman Oxford Edition packs these efforts into a compact SUV shell, giving shoppers extra space without a significant footprint. The problem is, when you strip the pancakes that Mini Shoehorn has in its more expensive variants and start comparing them to the competition, what’s left doesn’t exactly look like great value.

Like it

  • Unique aesthetics
  • Decently spacious

I do not like

  • Incorrigible nickel and darkening
  • Asthmatic inline-3
  • Uncomfortable journey

The 2021 Mini Countryman is a weird little thing. In a world of ever sharper creases and aggressive styling, the Mini’s Hardtop curvature, but tipped by a bee, offers a friendlier aesthetic alternative. The headlights are great anime characters and the Union Jack design in the taillights is fun. The Oxford Edition runs on 18-inch wheels (the base model gets 17s), making the whole thing a little less entry-level than it is.

Inside, the Countryman’s aesthetics separate it from the package again, but at the same time, it feels a bit meh for a car that carries a $ 30,000 price tag. None of the softer plastics feel particularly premium, but they do a great job of collecting and holding more dust than harder materials generally. The huge fascia of trim across the middle dashboard layer looks interesting on more expensive variants, but the Oxford gray shiny piece looks a bit dull and cheap. It’s better than piano black, though, because this at least hides fingerprints better. Then there are the aviation-style switchboards, which will forever remain the most rewarding switches to flip in the automotive industry.

Despite its small form factor, the Countryman is decently functional. The tray in front of the cup holders is good for storing a phone or mask, while an exposed tray under the armrest is large enough for a small bag. Visibility is solid too, thanks to the tall glass and styling that doesn’t sacrifice much for an attractive roofline. The shape of the Countryman also means that there is ample interior space for adults on both rows.

However, the 2021 Mini Countryman is not without its drawbacks. The cargo area has a low cargo bed, which is nice, but its overall capacity of 17.6 cubic feet behind the second row lags behind almost every possible competitor, from premium offerings like the Volvo XC40 (20.7 cubic feet) to mass-market subcompacts like the Kia Soul (24.2) and Hyundai Kona (19.2). The single USB-A port on the front splits the cable against everything in the cup holders. The interior door handles are the opposite of ergonomic, a feature I didn’t like from the start. Perhaps most irritating, however, is the second row center armrest, which doesn’t exist without a $ 850 convenience package that’s not even available on the base cover.

BMW’s determination to squeeze every milliliter of blood out of the stones that are its customers’ wallets extends to the in-car technology of the Mini Countryman. As a young new car buyer, you may have heard of these little things called Apple CarPlay is Android Auto. You may have noticed that they are now standard equipment in a staggering number of new cars across the socioeconomic spectrum. Although the Oxford Edition offers a larger 8.8-inch touchscreen display than the standard 6.5-inch model, you can’t get it with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or navigation. It will still play music from your favorite app over USB or Bluetooth, but if you’re driving in an unfamiliar place, you’re stuck trying to stare at a tiny Google Maps screen in the cup holder. Considering that you get the CarPlay standard in a Chevrolet Spark, Mini’s decision to block value-seeking buyers from a generally viable tech inclusion is, frankly, stupid and pointless; sure, it is available on other finishes, which makes the omission here completely unnecessary. The huge circular bezel with LEDs around the screen makes it difficult to press the tiny icons along the edges of the touchscreen, but in general, this iteration of BMW’s iDrive software is fine.

Since the Oxford Edition is intended as a kind of trim without haggling, what you see is what you get, the safety systems are limited to the most important ones. This Countryman comes standard with front collision warning, automatic emergency braking and rear parking sensors. If you want to access adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, or automatic parking assistance, you’ll need to upgrade to a more expensive trim and throw a $ 1,250 package into the mix. If you are looking for a lane departure warning, a lane keeping assistant or blind spot monitoring, you will need to look at a completely different car.

The interior of the Mini hasn’t changed much over the years.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

This leaves us with the driving experience. Guess what? This is also disappointing. The Oxford Countryman’s only engine offering is the base 1.5-liter inline-3 that produces 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. It will generate enough oomph to whiz through urban traffic with ease, but it seems dead below the belt in more open suburban and suburban environments. Constantly sounding like it’s running under duress, this three banger doesn’t like the highway, and even something as simple as accelerating from 70 to 80 mph requires planning. The situation is dire on paper too, with my all-wheel drive tester set to hit 60 mph in a quiet 9.6 seconds.

The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is at its best when it doesn’t need to change gear; pushing away from a traffic light feels clunky, deceleration incurs low-speed transmission vibrations, and the stop-start system is so annoyingly obvious that I’m willing to pay the extra money to keep it off permanently. It’s not very efficient either, delivering just 23 miles per city gallon and 32 mpg on the freeway while trying to push around 3,300-plus pounds with four-wheel drive. Oh, and it requires premium fuel.

Maybe running is okay? Nah, fam. In his copy of the website, Mini refers to the Oxford Edition’s fixed suspension as “super-tight,” which is accurate to no one’s advantage. The Countryman is perpetually stiff, transferring all sorts of bumps and bumps directly to the skeletons of the occupants, and in urban areas where the Inline-3 thrives, this means running will almost always be uncomfortable. Of course, its handling is as flat as a pancake, which he could make for a few thrilling moments on curved roads, but not when such a weak engine has to move so much mass with a transmission that it is reluctant to act in any degree of haste.

Mini’s small three-cylinder engine may be fine in purely urban environments, but once the roads open, it’s hard for this little guy to keep up the pace.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

I could forgive him a lot if the 2021 Countryman Oxford actually presented solid value, but the BMW influence also bleeds into the price. Including $ 850 in destination fees, my all-wheel drive tester sounds at $ 29,350, which I think is about $ 4,000 too high given what you I can not obtain. Yes, there is some inherent value to some of the standard equipment, which includes automatic climate control, heated front seats, and the larger touchscreen, but when you align this wannabe premium offering against ultra-compact mass market competitors like Hyundai Kona or Mazda CX-30, it’s hard to recommend the Mini when its rivals offer so much more. Even the slightly more expensive base variants of the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class and Volvo XC40 feel much more complete, even if the window sticker takes a little more from your salary.

That’s the problem with the 2021 Mini Countryman. Even in the Oxford Edition trim, trying to stand out from the crowd isn’t enough to get past an unmotivated powerplant and odd-looking package with some very notable omissions. If you simply have to get into the BMW lifestyle before you possess the financial means to put a Roundel in your garage, the Countryman will fulfill its mission, but when you take a variety of other factors (and cars) into consideration, its luster fades quickly. .

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