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.