Mini Cooper SD ALL4 Countryman - iDrive

 

There’s certainly no shortage of choice for anyone in the market for a MINI. We now have the new MINI (would you believe it’s been 10 years since BMW brought the small car back to British roads?) the Cooper and Cooper S, the Clubman, a convertible, the Countryman in its four-wheel-drive and standard variants, various limited editions and soon a coupé.

None of them hold the same allure or sense of fun as the original 1959 model but the Germanic pretender has become the car of choice for Middle England from Surrey and Suffolk to Cheshire and the Cotswolds.

With the latest Countryman, the Cooper SD ALL4, the company has gone back to the wooden-panelled model of the 1960s, dosed it up on the steroids and launched it into the sporty crossover market to cement its suburban dominance.

Its bulbous exterior is certainly attention grabbing and it’s the biggest car to wear the company badge so far. Not that purists will like that. It’s so large that it hardly deserves the historic badge that graces its bonnet. That said there’s just enough trademark MINI styling (of the modern kind) to link it to its ancestor and it has buckets of the unique appeal that makes modern MINIs so desirable to some.

Inside it's hit and miss again. The control panel seems to have been afflicted by a particularly virulent form of automotive acne with too many controls, buttons, switches and dials squeezed into the central control panel (which itself extends too far to the floor to be practical). This may be because my test model was fitted with nearly £7,000 of optional extras, but it’s still confusing. And when I struggled to find the windscreen demister, window controls and hazard lights it verged (almost literally) on dangerous.

The Countryman’s ample space seems poorly utilised at first – there are only four seats – but they move forward sufficiently or collapse easily to allow for near saloon-like levels of storage. The trademark MINI configuration of a rail that runs the length of the cabin along the transmission tunnel isn’t for everyone but provides several handy storage spots.

On the road its four-wheel drive is more than at home in the urban shopping centre car park or pulling a horse box in the Home Counties than with any serious off-road action, but many drivers will find the plentiful torque useful and the relatively high seating position.

In town its diesel engine can be a little sluggish at slow speeds, which makes you wonder what the sport tag really delivers – it takes some work and some down-shifting to make the most of it. Many modern diesels, including many BMWs, have managed to square this circle of diesel power and sporty performance but the designers at MINI still have some work to do it seems.

But then there’s only so much need for a sporty drive in the retail parks of Surrey and affluent lanes of Cheshire. The petrol model gets nearer to offering the go-kart like handling that the company’s blurb suggests, but still feels like its sitting on stilts and fails to deliver the sense of fun a MINI should offer. While on the motorway the Countryman is an accomplished tourer at least and offers good fuel economy, a high degree of driving comfort and little by the way or road noise.

In all honesty the car’s performance is more than adequate for most drivers and its styling and historical purity are a matter of personal taste. But if you must have one, and can forgo the four-wheel drive and extra space of the Countryman, I’d suggest the Cooper D. It’s only slightly slower, handles just as well, is more comfortable and lacks the bulbous styling. Best of all it’s almost £3000 cheaper.

Price from £23,190 (£30,120 as tested)

Engine capacity: 1995cc

Power output (PS@rpm): 143 @ 4,000

Top speed (mph): 121

0-62 mph (seconds): 9.4

Fuel economy (mpg): 57.6

CO2 emissions (g/km): 130



The Competition

The Nissan Juke isn’t exactly a direct competitor but is far cheaper at £12,795. It’s fun to drive and is aimed at the same well-heeled, iPhone owning customers. The Peugeot 3008 crossover is more practical, easy to drive and well-styled.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Solar Business Development Manager – M&A

    £50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

    Test Analyst

    £20000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An experienced Tes...

    Mechanical Design Engineer

    £35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: MECHANICAL D...

    SQL DBA (2005/2008/2012, projects, storage requirements)

    £45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

    Day In a Page

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried