MINI : Countryman makes an early debut

MINI Countryman

MINI Countryman

MINI’s new Sport Activity Vehicle receives the historic Countryman name, but the five-door variation on the theme is an entirely new – and enlarged – proposition. Unlike the Clubman and subsequent concept vehicles, the new car receives five conventional doors and optional four-wheel drive.

The MINI Countryman comes as standard with four seats, while a three-seat bench is available as a no-cost option. The interior offers superior comfort also on long distances, with generous legroom, headroom and shoulder freedom. The rear seats move fore-and-aft either individually or in a 60 : 40 (three-seat bench) split while the backrests may be tilted for angle either individually or in a 40 : 20 : 40 (three-seat bench) arrangement, increasing capacity in the luggage compartment from 350 to 1,170 litres (12.2–41.0 cu ft).

The Countryman is significantly larger than the R56 family and sits rather higher off the ground. As an option the MINI Cooper S Countryman and MINI Cooper D Countryman are available with permanent MINI ALL4 all-wheel drive, an electrohydraulic differential positioned directly on the final drive varying the distribution from front to rear in an infinite process.

Under normal driving conditions up to 50 per cent of the engine’s power goes to the rear wheels, under extreme conditions up to 100 per cent, offering a new, high-traction rendition of that agile handling so typical of MINI. This superior traction and drivetrain technology is based on the top-end suspension of the MINI including features such as the front axle with McPherson spring struts and forged track control arms, the multi-arm rear axle and EPS Electric Power Steering complete with Servotronic.

The MINI Countryman furthermore comes as standard with DSC Dynamic Stability Control, DTC Dynamic Traction Control coming either as an option or as a standard feature on the MINI Cooper S Countryman and the MINI Cooper D Countryman with ALL4, as well as an electronic limited-slip function for the front axle differential.

The Countryman seems likely to get the full range of available MINI engines with it being topped by the turbocharged 1.6-litre, packing 184bhp. Inside, the Countryman gets a typically MINI-esque dash, door panels and seats.

You’ll be able to see more of the new Countryman at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and watched it steadily grow into AROnline. Is the Editor of Classic Car Weekly, and has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, Classic Car Weekly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

68 Comments on "MINI : Countryman makes an early debut"

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  1. KC says:

    Posers everywhere, here is your new plaything

  2. Jonathan Carling Jonathan Carling says:

    Wonder how they’ll price it – £25k for a MINI?

  3. Nic Fasci says:

    I think that should read:

    MINI Streetwise debuts early!

    Oh look! Rover’s much-copied Streetwise is back on the road with a new badge!!!! (Ok I’ll admit we used a bit of Audi Allroad to begin with!)

  4. James says:

    Why don’t they just produce a 5 door version of the existing 3 door? All this faffing about with 4×4 drivetrains, ‘backwards baseball cap’ styling and huge lights looks like a waste of time, not to mention very gimmicky and being in danger of dating incredibly quickly. A ‘standard’ 5 door MINI would doubtless sell better than this ugly looking thing?!

  5. Simon Hodgetts says:

    Ughh, re-arrange the following words:-

    Bulldog, a, looks, wasp, like, chewing, a,

    At least the original Maxi had charm and originality.

  6. JON says:

    They have no shame!!

  7. Paul says:

    All I can say is it’s a good thing that your typical contributor to this web-site doesn’t work in new car product development. They would be bust quicker than MG Rover!

    Reality is this car will sell. The market for small SUVs is expanding rapidly and, at the same time, plenty of existing and potential MINI owners will be looking for something that will actually accommodate rear seat passengers.

  8. Simon Hodgetts says:

    LOL! I have a degree in Industrial Design and turned down a place on the Automotive Design course at Coventry Polytechnic to study on the same degree course as Peter Horbury (Director of Design, Volvo), and Jonathan Ive (Head of Design, Apple). I have worked as a Designer all of my career and, well, this thing may sell by the bucketload, but jeez, it’s REALLY ugly. It’ll sell because of the brand but it won’t advance car design or new product development one iota!

  9. Ross Armstrong says:

    @Paul

    Well, at least it should make a little more sense than the X6 – but it probably weighs about the same… lol!!

    Seriously though, MINI would really have to screw things up for this not to sell and the complete process from design to sale would have been planned and continuously adapted to suit the given circumstances. The problem with the X6 was that circumstances changed quite abruptly – it even happened to the Lotus Carlton and the XJ220.

    Hence, while people cannot afford huge fast cars that look good, they can buy cheaper cars that will have some sort of a wow factor so, whilst no-one is buying BMW’s X3, X5 or the daft X6, bringing this Countryman’s debut forward makes sense right now. And they will sell.

    A pity the thing weighs about the same as the outgoing Jaguar XJ…

  10. Andrew McCheyne says:

    I feel a little queasy.

  11. Tim Nevinson says:

    @Paul

    Your assumption that we do not work in vehicle product development is incorrect.

    I do and I am dismayed by the Countryman’s styling. MINI have a good thing going and are in danger of diluting a very strong brand with appalling styling, let alone cynically producing a ‘green’ electric MINI at the same time as this colossus. It represents all that is bad about following the crowd rather than innovating.

  12. Shep says:

    Yet another reason not to buy a BMW…

  13. Simon Woodward says:

    I’ve never been a huge fan of BMW’s MINI range but I thought the design was neat and showed that ‘retro’ could work well in a small car. Retro has worked well for Mazda’s MX5 and is now a nice little earner for Fiat with the 500.

    The Countryman will sell like hot cakes because there’s thousands of school-run families who will want a trendy well-built family hatch with those all important extra rear doors. I liked the quirky Clubman version and I’d love to see a small van based on the MINI Clubman, preferably hybrid and built here in Britain.

    However, as a ‘typical contributor’, I am sorry I dared comment on the Countryman without first working in ‘NEW CAR DEVELOPMENT.’ I am just a humble Cabinet Maker & designer with a bulging order book for my bespoke furniture, so I wouldn’t understand?

    I, for one, am very glad that all types of people from all over the world (John Hollander is even welcome if he behaves-Englishman) and from all walks of life contribute to this site. Feedback is good and, if I was a Car Designer, I would be listening to consumers’ points of view – I do and it hasn’t done my business any harm.

  14. Lewis Rabett says:

    Good thing I haven’t eaten lately! That thing is disgusting!

  15. Darren says:

    Pitbull on a skateboard anyone? It’s all going wrong for the MINI – what happened to the cool retro look? MINI has become Big Fat and F***ing Ugly !

  16. Craig W says:

    I don’t like the styling at all – it just looks really bloated. More annoying is the news it is going to be built in Austria. It will probably sell very well.

    Oh, and as for the “typical contributor” comment, why is it some people can’t listen to a point of view on here with out making these type of comments? Everyone is entitled to an opinion. I dared say something negative about the awesome (LOL) CityRover a week or two ago and got an (anonymous) “just out of curiosity, what is your engineering background?” comment. Ouch!

    Whilst I’m on a roll, what do the capital letters M.I.N.I. actually stand for and why does every one use capitals just because some Germans say so? Well done to Simon for ignoring them :0)

  17. Andrew McCheyne says:

    Looks like the XC9002. See the ADO16 development story on this website.

  18. Andrew McCheyne says:

    @Craig W
    M.I.N.I. – Must be In No-one’s Interest.

  19. This car is a BMW, not a Mini. The Mini name has been destroyed by BMW.

  20. Hilton Davis says:

    I have to say I don’t care for the look of this “Countryman” – but I don’t much care for the Clubman either. I much prefer the original BL Mini Clubman and estate car – must be showing my age!!

  21. Jeff says:

    @Andrew McCheyne
    My thoughts exactly – except any hint of elegance has gone out of the window.

    There is a market for this type of thing and it will sell. It shouldn’t but it will – mainly to Essex hairdressers I suspect.

  22. Honary Swede says:

    John Hollander :This car is a BMW, not a Mini. The Mini name has been destroyed by BMW.

    Let’s be honest the Mini was all but dead under Rover when BMW turned up with potential customers even thinking it was out of production it was so lacking in profile in the market.

    OK, BMW may have cloned it into something we don’t like, but they have directly created 5000 good well-paid British jobs in the process.

  23. @Craig W

    You raise an interesting point about why everyone uses capital letters when referring to MINI.

    Well, I reckon that the use of capital letters serves to emphasise the distinction between the original BMC>Rover Group Mini and the BMW Group’s MINI – the latter’s models are all much bigger than the original version and, ironically, the use of capital letters underlines that.

    I rather suspect that some AROnline readers might also claim that the use of capital letters distinguishes the real Mini from today’s somewhat less iconic interpretation…

  24. Richard says:

    It’ll sell. One of several reasons why it’ll be made in Austria is that the Cowley factory doesn’t normally have a lot of spare capacity. Fancy that. Happened under BMW. Didn’t happen for decades under BMC, BLMC, British Aerospace. Well done BMW. You have supervised a range of MINIs that people actually want to buy and that make money.

    I agree it’ll be bought by people wearing baseball caps, but why make something for a bygone era when you could make something that people actually want to buy now? If you genuinely prefer an old Mini Countryman, then get that restoration project going.

    If I wanted a crossover car, I’d get a Qashqai. Made in Sunderland 🙂

  25. Rhyds says:

    Yes, it will sell well but BY GOD ABOVE it’s an ugly thing. I assume the MINI design language of “minimal” legroom and an absurdly small boot will be adhered to? Also why on earth does it need 4WD? It’s not high performance and its not an off-roader despite it’s pretensions to that effect.

    I could just about cope with the new MINI in its original form as it was a car that BMW could make and sell without sullying the core brand. The Clubman was a step in the wrong direction with its mad “three doors and a boot” setup but this just makes me want to reach out and punch someone at Cowley.

  26. Chris Chapman says:

    If you think that’s bad have a look at the new Nissan Qazana. There’s bold and there’s just plain daft – look what bonkers design did for Renault…. BMW are making more room for a sub-Mini platform (Isetta?) – just a shame it’s not the Spiritual…

  27. Steve says:

    Got to say it’s a 100% better than the last attempt.That one stupied back door (wrong side on right hand drive for small children)& the back doors that made the rear view mirror useless.

  28. Leslie says:

    Pass the bucket – I feel unwell when I look at it.

    What do the designers at BWM smoke in their spare time????

    They have taken a cute car (the Mini), created an ugly characture of it and, because people actually purchased it, have created uglier and uglier versions of it. Please will someone tell them to stop and design something that is a) small and b) cute.

  29. Alexander says:

    If I read the specs correctly only the top of the range versions will get 4WD, the more basic ones will be FWD (One, One D, Cooper).

    About the capital letters – didn’t Austin-Rover introduce these when the badges where changed in the 80s?

    I wonder if we would still have Mini as a name if BMC would have marketed the 1100 and 1800 under the name Mini – similar to what is happening now…

  30. Jorge Santos says:

    Absolute rubbish!!!!!!

  31. Jemma says:

    [Incidental music, sorta like A-team, but not because BMW were too tight to licence it…]

    [Narrator]
    “… in 1972 a SWB Land Rover and a Maxi got drunk at a party… the accidental result of *that* got ratted at the office Christmas do and copped off with a MINI – and now, if you are desperate enough, and stop projectile vomiting long enough to find your Visa card… maybe you can lease… the MINI CLUBfoot…”

    This thing is HIDEOUS – it has not one single redeeming feature whatsoever. Having to drive that every day would feel like waking up next to Anne Widdecombe for the next 50 years….

    … and the really horrible horrible part about it, the thing that makes you want to crawl into a hole until it all goes away? People WILL buy it and they’ll even buy it because it’s a MINI, and this – to quote the great Terry Pratchett -this is truely a “misery wrapped in an enema”

    I can’t *wait* to see the http://www.sniffpetrol.com advert for this…

  32. Simon Woodward says:

    @Jemma

    I like the recommended ‘Sniffpetrol’ website for which I am grateful. But I choked on my tea, poached Quail eggs with dunking soldiers, which has now buggered the keyboard on my laptop when you mentioned Anne Widdecombe, cheers!

  33. Jemma says:

    @Simon Woodward

    Sorry, lol. I didn’t mean to spoil your appetite – hmm… that’s an idea for a slimming programme. Everytime you get the craving for chocolate a hypnotically programmed mental image of Anne Widdecombe doing a tribute to 9 1/2 weeks slams into your head…

    Now where did I put that patent application for?

  34. Jemma says:

    @Keith

    If you have something for me to do then yes – I have already had some stuff published on other sites and a couple of poetry books…

    Let me know 🙂

    Jemma

  35. Simon Woodward says:

    @Jemma

    This is getting too much so try this – Mr Prescott in nothing but little black socks receiving a back wax from Maggy Beckett!

  36. Jemma says:

    @SimonWoodward

    … the sway of the man-boobs is almost hypnotically zen … but I am thinking maybe Lord Mandyson, Edwina Currie and a gimp suit… am I bad? lol

    You gotta admit, the video of Prescott trying to lever his jabba-esque bulk into a Radford Mini would be much loved on YouTube…

    I probably shouldn’t mention the two substantial lesbians I used to know and the roadgrading Fiesta. I didn’t know FordPart did titanium live axles. Not to mention the Astra they then had which was often doing a passable impression of the Titanic (hold the band).

  37. Simon Woodward says:

    @Jemma

    “Prescott in a gimp suit” – this would be a good way of describing this latest MINI. Now I’ll have a disturbed night sleep. Cheers, Jemma.

    “E by heck Maggy this latex do arf chaff me Clackers!”

  38. John says:

    I have been a MINI fan for the last 6 years but, with each new design, the cars just seem to get uglier and uglier.

    It’s interesting to see that the specialist MINI sites are as tolerant as ever but, here, the near universal opinion seems to be that it is vile.

    MINI is a powerful brand and it has a large following of customers that will buy anything as long as it has a MINI badge. However, how much more successful could it be if they designed some pretty cars instead?

  39. Frank says:

    Mini, Mini 4X4? I suppose it’ll sell – they must have done their market research.

    The concept thingy, the doorless Moke revival, I could see that selling well. After all, the UK has certainly bred a whole generation who can’t afford to leave home and become true adults, but can afford the payments for a car.

  40. Gary H says:

    Recipe for success – stick a BMW badge on it and add cup holders in the name of innovation. Could this magic formula apply to the City Rover? As much as we knock BMW, and I’m one of them, the bottom line is sales = success. I once saw a Mini, the sticker on it read – 100% BMW free. You get the picture… paint, rust, falling apart.

  41. Tommo says:

    Brilliant, sheer genius I want one now!

  42. Simon Hodgetts says:

    Eck! This post gets more and more bizarre – Prezza getting a back wax from Maggie Beckett? What are you lot drinking?

    Getting back to the ‘MINI’ Gangrene-Foot – I understand that Issigonis was anti-styling, but come-on, even Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Jose Feliciano would call this abomination ‘Fugly’. In fact, I was thinking about this today, there’s really not one car on the market today (at least aimed at mere mortals) that I can say I lust after. What do they teach designers these days?

  43. Simon Woodward says:

    @Simon Hodgetts

    I thought the same thing recently – it’s as if car designers are after the ‘shock and awe’ approach. Peugeot produced some very pretty cars at one time – 205, 306 etc – but now new Peugeots just look ungainly and tacky.

    However, I like the new Fiesta and Astra which look balanced and well built before you even drive one.

    Sorry about the ‘back waxing’, Jemma started it!!!!

  44. NIk Nak Noo says:

    Now they are really taking the p*ss – what a pile of cr*p.

    It looks a bit like an Austin 1800 only not as attractive – yuk!

  45. Chris L. says:

    How can this be called Mini? It’s bigger than that Austin 1800. Someone should take Mini away from those people! Minis should be, well, mini!

  46. CMPD says:

    My word, that MINI is fat, bloated and ugly. But I can assure you people will buy it because there are lots of people out there who are seduced by ugliness and have no care for good design. The car is so huge and the name is such a contradiction they should have called it the MINI Oxymoron. In fact, that’s who will buy this bloated beast – morons.

  47. Simon Hodgetts says:

    You gave me a good idea for a new name for the ‘MINI’ brand CMPD – (drum roll, dry ice, dancing girls on standby etc…)

    ‘BLOTI’

    Ooh, and there’s even a ‘BL’ in there to give that tenuous link to the past… I’m on fire!

  48. MarinaNation says:

    Why call it a MINI? Blimey… it’s about as ‘mini’ as a SAAB 9000

  49. KeithB says:

    @Simon Hodgetts

    Bulldog licking p*ss off a nettle more like!

  50. Lord Stokes says:

    Cracking little car, this is a true crossover and a real groundbreaker – if only Rover Group had developed and built the Mini brand like BMW have. Should sell buckets here.

  51. Carl Maynard says:

    It WILL sell to… a certain type of clientele who might have a X5 or Range Rover Sport and whose idea of a fun weekend is to play on a Wii after returning from IKEA… That doesn’t alter the fact that the whole crossover idea is incredibly naff…

  52. Gary H says:

    Yes, which part of “mini” didn’t they understand?

    However, if you imagine that Mini was a single car company ie a car manufacturer that made minis and nothing else, then in that light you could see how it could evolve and be any shape or size they want it to be. Those folks down at Mini have gone and made a 4×4 etc…

    I think they should have made the Spiritual as well. It is the car I would have bought, even if I won’t buy a MINI. If it takes forty years to get the cash registers ringing for the Mini, well they should have started on the Spiritual ten years ago.

  53. Frank says:

    Simon Hodgetts :Eck! I was thinking about this today, there’s really not one car on the market today (at least aimed at mere mortals) that I can say I lust after. What do they teach designers these days?

    To use a computer to ensure that the vehicle will pass NCAP ratings and comply with the latest Euro bable about saving ped’s by having ‘user friendly’ front ends. Given the constraints, it is hardly surprising that nearly everything looks like everything else, also hardly a surprise when the number of cars being built on the same base as others via the same accountants is the ever growing trend.

    For example, the new Vauxhall Insigina which when I first saw it on the road could have been a Renault or a small Lexus. Cars are becoming like the public – all eccentricity is frowned upon, everything and everyone must conform.

  54. Will says:

    Frank :

    Simon Hodgetts :Eck! I was thinking about this today, there’s really not one car on the market today (at least aimed at mere mortals) that I can say I lust after. What do they teach designers these days?

    To use a computer to ensure that the vehicle will pass NCAP ratings and comply with the latest Euro bable about saving ped’s by having ‘user friendly’ front ends. Given the constraints, it is hardly surprising that nearly everything looks like everything else, also hardly a surprise when the number of cars being built on the same base as others via the same accountants is the ever growing trend.

    For example, the new Vauxhall Insigina which when I first saw it on the road could have been a Renault or a small Lexus. Cars are becoming like the public – all eccentricity is frowned upon, everything and everyone must conform.

    Must agree with that. I was disappointed when Citroen went the German route with the C5 and did away with the hydraulics in all but the top of the range models. Then Saab went to the wall.

    It seems that, unless it is an SUV or German (or both), Joe Public doesn’t want to know. Originality and eccentricity mark you out when you want to fit in like the good little sheep in Gordon Brown’s consumerist taxpayers. Now get back to watching adverts for BMW in between the latest X-factor-got-dancing-talent-on-ice mind-degrading televisual broadcasts…

  55. Simon Hodgetts says:

    @Frank

    No, sorry, I don’t agree with that argument at all. As a practising designer, I and colleagues of mine find that the constraints imposed by the packaging of components, legislation, materials and production techniques can actually feed creativity – for example, look at the Fiat 500 and the Ford Ka – same platform, same NCAP rating – one cute, desirable car, one car shaped like an orthopedic shoe (draw your own conclusions which is which), or even better compare the Maxi and the Aquila (yes, I know it was the 70s, and the regs were not as tight – but the Maxi’s powertrain package was a complete b*gger to clothe – just as with today’s smaller cars).

    The bigger issue is the cynical marketing machine that is new car development – developing niche products for niches that simply don’t exist, adding novelty where there is no need, playing it safe (would a modern car maker produce the Citroen CX… nope) and forgetting that cars are the nearest we all get to owning a piece of kinetic sculpture.

    I did re-think the contemporary ‘ordinary’ cars that I do like and have come up with:- Jaguar XF, Honda Civic, Alfa Romeo Brera, Fiat 500, Fiat Punto (but not the awful face-lifted Evo model) and most Volvos.

  56. Rich says:

    It’s not a looker is it….

    Wheels are too small.

    Bet the ride is rock hard as the other Mini.

    Is it related to the BMW X1, same chassis?

    That’s ugly also.

  57. Mo says:

    This is the ugliest thing I have seen for a long time. The styling is far from British and is rather German. Looks like a typically fat, overweight (overpriced) characterless Volkswagen from the front and just doesn’t do it.

    I’m sure people will buy it though as it looks vaguely like the original BMC Mini… in the way that a mole looks like a beauty spot.

    Woof!

  58. JK says:

    I like it!!! Might consider getting one when I come to change my Grand Vitara. Reminds me of an Allegro Estate… think I’m the only one who liked them too!!!!!

  59. Brilliant says:

    …just brilliant!

  60. Paul says:

    How can you say that! The MINI is more popular and is sold in more countries than it ever was under BMC/BL etc. BMW have a far better understanding of the value of the MINI concept and have made into a car that sells in vast numbers, profitably and keeps thousands of British worlers in highly skilled, well paid, secure employment.

  61. Bajandave says:

    I like what BMW did with the Clubman – it’s tasteful and stays in tune with the original car’s looks, but 4 doors and a lift kit really don’t suit a MINI. Nevertheless, if they can get the 5 GT and X6 sold (and they are equally ungainly), I am sure they’ll have no problem finding buyers for this monstrosity.

  62. Andrew McCheyne says:

    German plates look so naff.

  63. Stokesmiester General says:

    Lovely, Issigonis would have loved this. After all remember the Twini.

    If BMW hadn’t rescued MINI from BL, then it would have gone to the Chinese, so we should all be grateful to Herr Pischetsrieder!

  64. EDMUND LAU says:

    IT’S NOT A MINI ANY MORE. IT SHOULD CALLED MAXI MORE LIKELY, I PREFER THE OLD CLASSIC MINI LOOKS MUCH BETTER

    • GP-DAV says:

      Mini aint about being a small mini anymore, The name mini is a brand,
      BMW have done a brilliant job with the 21st century mini. Things have changed and moved forwards unlike yourself. I own a classic mini and 2 BMW minis one being a countryman and the other a r53 GP and believe me they drive like a classic they hold the road better than a classic and most of all they are reliable and dont seem to suffer from tin-worms unlike the classic does. You shouls move on in life and try a new mini you will be pleasantly suprised.

  65. Paul Van Nijen says:

    Yuk, what an ugly car, absolute rubbish.
    A real classic Mini lover from Belgium,
    Paul

  66. Ianto says:

    Jemma :[Incidental music, sorta like A-team, but not because BMW were too tight to licence it…]
    [Narrator]“… in 1972 a SWB Land Rover and a Maxi got drunk at a party… the accidental result of *that* got ratted at the office Christmas do and copped off with a MINI – and now, if you are desperate enough, and stop projectile vomiting long enough to find your Visa card… maybe you can lease… the MINI CLUBfoot…”
    This thing is HIDEOUS – it has not one single redeeming feature whatsoever. Having to drive that every day would feel like waking up next to Anne Widdecombe for the next 50 years….
    … and the really horrible horrible part about it, the thing that makes you want to crawl into a hole until it all goes away? People WILL buy it and they’ll even buy it because it’s a MINI, and this – to quote the great Terry Pratchett -this is truely a “misery wrapped in an enema”
    I can’t *wait* to see the http://www.sniffpetrol.com advert for this…

    It is very easy to criticise, but we all owe BMW a huge debt for saving MINI and creating a really fresh new brand. Personally I think that the Countryman is the best compact 4×4 I have ever seen, and I cannot wait to buy one.

    Big up to BMW!

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