2017 Mini Countryman Review

It’s the biggest Mini so far – but is it still a Mini?

By Shahzad Sheikh

Watch my video review of the Mini Countryman be clicking below.

It’s the second generation Mini Countryman – the F60 they’ve dubbed it – and it went on sale earlier this year. It is big. Very big – 20cm longer, 7cm longer in the wheelbase and 3cm wider then before. I frankly feel shy about calling it a ‘compact’ SUV.

I guess it still is though, even if the price doesn’t quite reflect that. Oh yes, sit down for this, but the car seen in these pics is AED190,000 ($52,000) – though this is the Cooper S. The regular Cooper starts at AED164,000 ($45k) which is still on the rather jaw-dropping side.

2017 Mini Countryman Review

I mean if you want to talk compact SUVs you can just about get TWO Honda CR-Vs for the same dosh!

So is there another cheaper, non-Cooper variant? Nope you just get the two for now. And it’s not just the same car with slightly different spec – they are different engines.

The Cooper is a three-cylinder motor – a 1.5-litre Turbo putting out 134bhp and 162lb ft of torque driving through a 6-speed auto and achieving a 0-100kph time of 9.8seconds.

2017 Mini Countryman Review

Our test car with the ‘S’ badging is a 2.0 four-cylinder giving you 189bhp and 207lb ft of torque running through an 8-speed auto, for a 0-100kph time of 7.2seconds and a top speed of 222kph.

Whilst the bloated 4×4 version of BMW’s reincarnated Mini still has a familiar silhouette about it, it does seem to have a face that’s trying to get out of its own way! The eyes seem to be getting further apart. But it’s still not quite as bad as the latest Clubman.

2017 Mini Countryman Review

Plus to be fair, it’s got quite a substantial stance about it. Stick a nice paint job and some stripe decals on it, and you’ve got a stand-out sorta-stylish ride that sits apart from the crowd.

Inside, whilst the boot is average, the rear seat compartment – now without the over-elaborate centre rail that would bisect the cabin in the previous gen Countrymen – is not too bad at all. Plus you can slide the seat back and forth.

2017 Mini Countryman Review

Up front of course there’s plenty of room with a rather upright but still very comfortable seating position, and talking of comfort, special mention has to be made for the seat upholstery which frankly was good enough to convince anyone that the seats could be from a Bentley or Maybach! Plus adjustable thigh support – wow!

Toggle switches, big central dial, round or oval motifs abounding, and an instrument pod atop the steering column – all present and correct as you’d expect in a Mini. Everything works, is familiar and intuitive and rather charming.

2017 Mini Countryman Review

On the move it is of course easy-to-drive and very user-friendly. I hit a few dirt tracks and the 4×4 seemed competent enough, but a bit uncomfortable, the car never really seemed very happy with the terrain, but that could be to do with the large wheels and the road-racery tyres.

Get back on tarmac though and it all comes together. Press on– using the paddle shifts as they respond better than the initially rather sluggish auto mode – keep the pedal mashed and spin that wheel and the old Mini magic comes flooding back.

2017 Mini Countryman Review

You almost forget you’re in an SUV, and the average performance levels matter not a jot, because you can really exploit what’s on tap. It is, as every Mini – new or old – absolutely has to be from behind the wheel: an absolute hoot to pedal hard!

And when you’re done and you want to the adrenalin surge to fizzle out, you can wind up the tunes and cruise rather smoothly back on the motorway with no issues and churning out decent economy.

2017 Mini Countryman Review

Verdict

Whilst I’m not as enthused by the styling of this Mini compared to others (with the exception of the still-I-maintain hideous new Clubman) I don’t mind growing used to it, and overall I’ve got to give it a pass because a) it is remarkably practical and useable around town and on the long commute, b) it’s still oozes a lot of Mini charisma and most importantly c) it still drives like a little hooligan. If only it was a bit cheaper – my tip, buy it used.

 

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