2011 Mini Cooper Countryman new car reviews

It's like a MINI, but bigger. Meet the new MINI Countryman.
Like the original MINI, the new one also has a way-back.
And here's the actual car we tested. It passed the burger run test.

Better than: Dodge Nitro
But not as good as: Mini Cooper Countryman S
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 57.42

Riding on the back of the diminuitive Cooper’s success, MINI recently expanded its model lineup beyond the extended-wheelbase Cooper Clubman to a full five-door cute ute. Though the Mini Cooper Countryman is substantially larger than its stablemates, it shares the same available drivetrains, adding only an optional all-wheel-drive system to the mix. True to its heritage, the name hearkens back to the Austin Mini Countryman, an extended-wheelbase version of the original.

This model is presumably aimed at those who want the cute cachet of the MINI Cooper, but need more cargo- and kid-hauling space. Despite being considerably larger than the original, though, this mega-MINI is still smaller than a Mazda 3.

Our tester had the base 121-horsepower, 1.6-liter engine and a six-speed transmission, sans AWD. The turbocharged S model packs the punch of an additional 60 horses. We also had about $5000 worth of options on top of the $21,650 base price, including a panoramic sunroof; heated seats, mirrors, and washer jets; and a sport package. That last one installs 18-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, racy hood stripes and sport seats.

Other staff views

Joe Gearin Joe Gearin
Associate Publisher

Who's been giving our beloved MINI steroids? Like the artificially inflated baseball players of recent years, the MINI Countryman is a bloated exaggeration of a good thing. Unfortunately, there is no "loaded" ball in this game, as this MINI's naturally aspirated engine can't hope to keep up with the added mass. Even in manual transmission guise, this MINI forces you to "flat-foot" the accelerator constantly just to avoid being run over by traffic.

When the MINI first hit our shores it's retro-inspired interior was whimsical and cute if a bit overdone. In the Countryman the cuteness has worn off, and the pizza-sized speedo, and Fisher Price inspired controls are just plain annoying. In the standard MINI, we dismiss minor interior niggles, as the driving experience is so rewarding. Unfortunately, the Countryman isn't all that much fun to drive. It's chassis is capable, steering direct, and it handles well enough, but it never forces a grin like the standard car. It feels too tall, too heavy, and much, much too slow.

Who knows, maybe the Turbocharged version with a manual trans would be a suitable WRX or Evo fighter. As it stands though, this N/A Countryman is more cartoon than car.

Andy Reid Andy Reid
HalfDork

Just to chime in. I also had the opportunity to drive the car a few weeks ago.

The acceleration, or lack thereof, is unbelievable. You honestly do have to floorboard the car to even begin to accelerate. The Mini Countryman is the slowest BMW product I have driven since the 1984 E30 318i. Think Rabbit Diesel performance levels.

The aluminum track that runs through the car impairs loading it with many objects because you are in fear of breaking off the aluminum track. The track did hold a pair of plastic cup holders that were so flimsy and vulnerable, that they had already been broken off by the people who drove the car previous to us.

I have owned 2 previous MINIs, the first a 2002 Cooper S and the second a 2004 John Cooper Works MINI. I loved both of them and found them to be great cars.

Sadly to say, Countryman is not a great car.

As a side note, does the speedometer really have to be the size of a pizza?

Join Free Join our community to easily find more articles.

Comments

View comments on the GRM forums
kurtz
kurtz New Reader
9/29/11 11:49 a.m.

I saw one in person recently, its hideous. And what is with the 4 seats? It has an aluminum track running though the cabin!

kanaric
kanaric Dork
1/1/13 4:00 a.m.

Mentioning the turbo charged evo fighting. I don't understand why they don't make a manual trans street version of their rally version of this car. It would be interesting.

This? Even the john cooper works version is garbage.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/10/13 12:00 a.m.

Riding on the back of the diminuitive Cooper’s success, MINI recently expanded its model lineup beyond the extended-wheelbase Cooper Clubman to a full five-door cute ute. Though the Mini Cooper Countryman is substantially larger than its stablemates, it shares the same available drivetrains, adding only an optional all-wheel-drive system to the mix. True to its heritage, the name hearkens back to the Austin Mini Countryman, an extended-wheelbase version of the original.

This model is presumably aimed at those who want the cute cachet of the MINI Cooper, but need more cargo- and kid-hauling space. Despite being considerably larger than the original, though, this mega-MINI is still smaller than a Mazda 3.

Our tester had the base 121-horsepower, 1.6-liter engine and a six-speed transmission, sans AWD. The turbocharged S model packs the punch of an additional 60 horses. We also had about $5000 worth of options on top of the $21,650 base price, including a panoramic sunroof; heated seats, mirrors, and washer jets; and a sport package. That last one installs 18-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, racy hood stripes and sport seats.

Grassroots Motorsports Magazine

Subscribe Today

Also get your instant access to the digital edition of Grassroots Motorsports Magazine!

Learn More
OJVtUGbKvPhlm9eBcvO8VDX6QuLWLwEL