Is this the Mini that die-hard sentimentalists love to hate? Or is the Countryman for those who wish to have extra space and comfort without compromising on the fun, all while retaining many of the Mini hallmarks?
See also: The Rolls-Royce For The Next Generation
Nicknamed Woody for its wood frame panelling on the exterior, the first Countryman, the Austin Seven Countryman, was launched as a variant of the classic Mini in the 1960s. 50 years later in 2010, the Countryman was re-born and over half a million were sold.
Will these owners consider trading-up for the next generation? We take a look at the new XXL Mini Countryman in detail.
Compared to its predecessor, it's now 20cm longer and 3cm wider. Despite its size, the car is still recognisable as a Mini with the typical proportions.
Apart from the dimensions, what makes this Mini Countryman stand out from the other models are its unique design elements: the helmet roof, arrow-like side indicators, satin finished aluminium roof rails and silver-coloured side sill tops. One notable aesthetic alteration is the large headlamps, evolved from the traditional round ones to a squarer shape.
More space, more refinement and lots of boxes to tick on the options list, such as Chester British Oak seats. The dinner plate infotainment system is now bigger and more intuitive, coming with a touch screen option.
The 40:20:40 split rear seats can be shifted by 13cm either way to allow for additional leg room, and can also be tilted for extra comfort. The boot space of 450 litres is perfect for storing your outdoor gear.
There are three variants: the Cooper with a 1.5l engine, the Cooper S 2.0l and the Cooper S All4. The premium model has an all-wheel-drive system and may be useful during typhoons. Coupled with an 8-speed gearbox, it can sprint from 0-100 kmh in 7.2 seconds and is slightly faster than its predecessor.
The ride remains firm but not uncomfortable. The front suspension is a single-joint spring strut axle, while the rear suspension is a multilink rear axle with a design optimised for weight and rigidity. There's an optional Dynamic Damper Control to choose between mid, sport and green modes.
Among the long list of options and standard equipment, the auto tailgate, Mini logo projection on the ground and the heads-up display particularly stand out. The Mini picnic bench—a cushion for you to sit on the luggage compartment lid—adds a nice touch and can be useful if you find yourself exploring the great outdoors with the family.
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