Review: MINI Countryman (2017)
Biggest ever MINI. Upmarket and quirky interior. Good to drive. Available as a plug-in hybrid.
Very expensive to buy new. Firm ride. Not great at long distances. Most of the smart kit is optional.
MINI Countryman (2017): At A Glance
- New prices start from £24,285, brokers can source from £19,758
- Contract hire deals from £236.40 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 10–36
- On average it achieves 69% of the official MPG figure
First things first - the new Countryman is the biggest MINI ever. For most people that’s not an issue by now, but if you’re still in the "Minis should be small and packaged cleverly" camp, this Countryman crossover is conspicuously offensive.
That said, it is packaged cleverly. Remove the BMW-era MINI design nonsense and you’ll see that the Countryman actually squeezes a lot of space and practicality into a relatively compact footprint.
It’s also fantastic to drive, as these things go. No other mid-sized crossover feels as sharply engaging as the Countryman. That BMW has managed to expand the dynamic essence of the MINI hatchback into a package this large is truly impressive.
The downside of that is relatively firm ride quality, making this one of the less comfortable crossovers over long distances. Added to that, the seats – although good looking by design – are on the small side and won’t suit all.
Its combination of practicality and downright quirkiness will really appeal to some, though. MINI’s cabin design is both unique and high quality, and although the whole ‘central speedometer and toggles aplenty’ shtick is losing its lustre now, three generations in, it’s still a refreshing change from the ever-more-homogenous cabin design of many crossovers.
The Countryman is practical too, with plenty of headroom and a significant improvement in rear leg space compared to the outgoing model.
Alongside the familiar MINI petrol and diesels - Cooper and Cooper D, Cooper S and SD, and John Cooper Works - there’s a plug-in hybrid too, called Cooper S E. It boasts some startling numbers with 134.5mpg and 49g/km.
That makes the PHEV a fantastic company car proposition because of the tax breaks, though private buyers will find its high list price and poor real-world economy off-putting.
A standard Cooper or Cooper D should suffice though, offering decent performance and economy while keeping the price reasonable – in the mid-£20k range. For that you’ll get a crossover full of personality that’s practical, versatile and great to drive, albeit not flawless.
What does a MINI Countryman (2017) cost?
MINI Countryman (2017): What's It Like Inside?
If you’ve spent any time in any BMW-era MINI then the Countryman’s interior will feel very familiar. Massive central sat nav unit (standard on all Countrymans…Countrymen?), small bubble rev counter, toggle switches everywhere, soft touch surfaces and a very hefty feeling in general. It’s fair to say that MINI cabin design has very gently evolved since 2001.
But that’s no bad thing, because the Countryman is still the most idiosyncratic crossover there is – and a welcome differentiator in the ever-swelling sea of conspicuously homogenous SUV-type family cars. An example of a little smile-inducing touch - there are a few of them - is the backlit pinstriped dashboard, whose colour you can change.
It’s all very intuitively laid out too – the massive toggles and dials are easy to find and read. All intuitive, that is, apart from the multimedia interface for the infotainment unit. MINI’s iDrive-based system (a BMW staple) uses a scroll wheel and shortcut buttons on the centre console. And to this day – as in the early 2000s - it makes simple things like inputting a postcode or finding a song needlessly complicated. The screen is touch sensitive but that sometimes feels like an afterthought.
The driving position is excellent, though – assuming you can get comfortable in the strangely small chairs. Most people should find a good driving position, with MINI’s whole ‘go kart handling’ thing applying here and making for a quite low set chair, with lots of adjustment for the wheel too.
Saying that, all round visibility is excellent, especially at the front because of the large upright screen and thin front pillars – more hallmarks of unchanging MINI design.
Boot space is much improved over the outgoing Countryman – up by 100 litres to 450, putting it in the upper echelons of the family crossover set. The Nissan Qashqai has 430 litres. Added to that the loading floor is nice and flat, the boot lip small and unobtrusive, while the rear bench not only tilts forward to liberate more space, but has a 40/20/40 split. The PHEV version loses some boot space on account of the battery, so is down to 405 litres.
Elsewhere in the cabin, although there’s plenty of rear space – certainly enough for all but the tallest adults and a big improvement over the outgoing Countryman – there’s a slight lack of oddment space. The door pockets are quite shallow, there’s limited space in the centre console and the glovebox is quite small. It’s a car that can quickly become engulfed in detritus.
Cooper specification includes 16-inch wheels fitted with 225/55 R17 tyres, roof rails, Thatcham Category 1 alarm system, air conditioning, hated door mirrors and washer jets, rear park distance control, three-seat rear bench w/ 40/20/40 split, Dynamic Stability Control, six airbags, tyre puncture warning system, six-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, DAB radio, navigation, USB connection and passenger airbag deactivation
Cooper S/SD adds 17-inch alloy wheels and cloth-leather upholstery
Chilli pack adds automatic air con, MINI driving modes, part-leather sports seats and LED headlamps
TLC pack adds five-year/50,000 mile tservicing package incl. first service visit (oil service and micro-filter), brake fluid service at two years (brake fluid service at four years is not covered), second service visit (oil service, micro-filter, vehicle check, spark plugs and air filter)
Child seats that fit a MINI Countryman (2017)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the MINI Countryman (2017) like to drive?
- Engines range from Cooper to John Cooper Works ALL4 Automatic
- Readers report Real MPG to be between 25–88 mpg
If you’re after a MINI-like driving experience with space, you’ve found it here. An obvious statement, yes, but what’s so impressive about the Countryman is just how much it’s like the much smaller MINI hatchback behind the wheel.
That’s a two-edged sword though, because while it makes the Countryman the most involving mid-sized crossover with which to enjoy a back road, it also means it doesn’t have the lightness or comfort you might want door-to-door.
The steering rack is heavy – sporty, even – compared to most SUVs and crossovers, plus the ride quality is on the firm side. That might help the Countryman feel small and dynamic, but it also makes things seem cumbersome and relatively unrelaxing at low speeds. Most crossovers are more comfortable than the Countryman around the doors, it’s fair to say.
The Countryman also comes undone a little over long distances, for similar reasons. The hard-set suspension lacks a little of the give that it takes to soften a motorway, while cars equipped with an optional panoramic sunroof suffer from very excessive wind noise. The MINI’s seats aren’t the most comfortable on the market either – also on the firm side.
But the engine line-up is fantastic. It’s true that the three-cylinder petrol unit in the Cooper looks a little underpowered, with 136PS dragging along all this crossover (0-62mph: 9.6 seconds), but sounds great and it generates its maximum 220Nm torque at just 1400rpm. Flexible, like.
It gets better from there. The Cooper S has genuine pace and character (7.5 seconds from 0-62mph), and although the Cooper D and SD diesels lack the charm, they make up for it with excellent economy (65.7 and 61.4mpg respectively) and great low speed flexibility. All that torque, see.
The PHEV is a little different, given its complexity. In a nutshell, it combines an 88PS electric motor with the 136PS three-cylinder petrol engine from the Cooper, the former driving the rear wheels and the latter the fronts. The result is 224PS and 385Nm giving a 6.8-second 0-62mph time, as well as 20-odd miles zero emissions driving, in the right conditions.
It’s impressively economical (134.5mpg) and a company car tax dream (49g/km CO2), but it’s not without flaw – click here to read our reports during six months running a Countryman PHEV.
The Countryman has also been awarded a five-star rating from Euro NCAP, with an especially excellent 90 per cent score for adult occupant protection, with 80 per cent for children.
|Cooper||47–51 mpg||9.6–9.7 s||126–137 g/km|
|Cooper ALL4||46 mpg||9.7–10.0 s||139–147 g/km|
|Cooper ALL4 Automatic||47 mpg||9.8–10.0 s||136–142 g/km|
|Cooper ALL4 Steptronic||-||9.8 s||145 g/km|
|Cooper Automatic||48–51 mpg||9.7 s||126–134 g/km|
|Cooper D||61–66 mpg||8.9–9.1 s||113–120 g/km|
|Cooper D ALL4||58–60 mpg||8.8–9.0 s||124–128 g/km|
|Cooper D ALL4 Automatic||58–59 mpg||8.7–9.0 s||126–130 g/km|
|Cooper D Automatic||61–64 mpg||8.8–9.1 s||115–122 g/km|
|Cooper S||44–46 mpg||7.5–7.6 s||141–149 g/km|
|Cooper S ALL4||40 mpg||7.3 s||159 g/km|
|Cooper S ALL4 Automatic||44 mpg||7.2–9.8 s||146–150 g/km|
|Cooper S Automatic||47 mpg||-||137 g/km|
|Cooper S PHEV||-||6.8 s||49–56 g/km|
|Cooper S Steptronic||47 mpg||7.4–7.6 s||136–138 g/km|
|Cooper SD ALL4 Automatic||58–59 mpg||7.4 s||129 g/km|
|Cooper SD Automatic||61–63 mpg||7.7 s||121 g/km|
|Cooper Steptronic||48–49 mpg||9.6–9.7 s||126–134 g/km|
|John Cooper Works ALL4||38 mpg||6.5 s||169 g/km|
|John Cooper Works ALL4 Automatic||41 mpg||6.5 s||156–158 g/km|
|One D||67 mpg||12.9 s||115 g/km|
Real MPG average for a MINI Countryman (2017)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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