MINI Countryman One SUV (2010 - ) review
Read the MINI Countryman One 4x4 (2010 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.The Auto Trader expert verdict: 4.2 The cheapest diesel Countryman majors on distinctive looks and impressively low running costs. The One D could be the perfect crossover for small families.
- MINI personality in a bigger package
- Really good new diesel engine
- Great economy and low costs
- You need to spend more on options
- Not as good to drive as MINI Hatch
- Seats quite narrow
At a glance
There’s no doubt that the MINI Countryman splits opinion. It goes a lot further than the Hatch and Clubman in that it’s a large car by any standards – though still notably more compact than the average 4×4. We love the distinctive styling. A word of warning however: the One does not feature alloy wheels as standard and they’re crucial to give the car a bit of street cred. Naturally MINI will allow buyers to choose from a vast array of colour schemes so very few Countrymans will look alike.
Some don’t like the design of the modern-day MINI interior, but there’s no doubting its individuality. The large centrally-mounted speedometer is retained in the Countryman, with a smaller rev counter located behind the steering wheel. The Countryman’s interior is obviously from the same design school as the rest of the MINI range, though the dashboard features a few tweaks that enhance the feeling of quality. The switchgear is more tactile and there are more soft-touch plastics. This is in keeping with the car’s elevated price tag and that it has to compete with established favourites such as the Nissan Qashqai.
The Countryman is the most practical MINI yet. For starters, the rear seats offer decent legroom and the boot is a useful 350 litres. The latter features a deep hidden area under the floor and the rear seats split 40/20/40, folding to create a flat load space. The Nissan Qashqai has a larger boot, at 410 litres, but its seats don’t fold flat. An innovative storage rail runs down the centre of the Countryman, though it’s not very wide. Nor are the door pockets, glovebox and two cup holders. The middle rear seat is too slim for most adults too.
Ride and handling
MINI’s marketing focuses its attention on the car’s kart-like handling. Translating the Hatch’s agility to a taller, more family-oriented car was always going to be a challenge. It’s best to compare it to real rivals, such as the Qashqai and Hyundai ix35. Ride comfort is generally very good – though larger alloys detract from that – while body control is excellent. There is a little more body roll through corners than in the Hatch, and the steering is a little slower, but in all it’s quite a fun car to drive. All Countryman Ones are front-wheel drive only.
The One D’s 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine produces 90bhp. That makes it the lowest power output of the whole Countryman range. However, it has significantly more pulling power (torque) than even the petrol-fuelled Cooper model. Hence it doesn’t feel slow, despite a pretty unimpressive 0-62mph time of 12.9 seconds. It’s also available with a 1.6-litre petrol with 98bhp, The standard six-speed manual gearbox is a real gem. Its ratios are well-suited to the engine and the gearchange itself is quick and satisfying to use. Despite more power, the equivalent Nissan Qashqai is no faster and the MINI’s performance will be adequate for the majority of buyers.
This particular Countryman’s forte is its low running costs. Average fuel economy for the diesel is 64.2mpg, which beats the 1.5 dCi Qashqai’s 57.6mpg figure. Stop-start and brake energy regeneration help with that and the 115g/km emissions. The latter puts the One D into VED band C for relatively low road tax. Along with that, insurance is somewhat surprising for a desirable car, as it’s only group 13.The petrol model can average 47.1mpg and emits 139g/km of CO2. The icing on the cake is exceptionally good-value servicing deals direct from MINI.
As the MINI Countryman is a new model, there is little or no history of its reliability. However, it’s built using well-proven components. On top of that MINI generally has a good reputation for quality and reliability. Objectively, the Countryman feels of good quality – even more so than the other MINIs.
MINI achieved a full five-star safety rating in the EuroNCAP crash tests. That includes 84 percent adult occupant protection, 83 percent for children and 71 percent for safety assist. The latter score was bolstered by the standard fitment of traction control, stability control, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Cornering Brake Control and Brake Assist. Also included are Isofix child seat mountings, six airbags and a tyre pressure warning system. It all ensures that the MINI is one of the safest cars in its class.
As the One is the cheapest Countryman, buyers need to be aware that it’s not as well equipped as some rivals. As mentioned, alloy wheels are not included. Air-con is though, as are electric windows all-round, rear parking sensors and a decent CD stereo with USB and aux-in connectivity. Most buyers will add to that list to customise their Countryman.
Given how massively successful the MINI brand has been, it may seem strange to say buy the Countryman for its individuality. We expect this car to attract thousands of buyers, yet it has so much personality that we don’t think they’ll feel like they’re buying a mass-market car. Fans of the MINI that need more space will appreciate the much larger interior and those who really want to stand out have a long list of customisation options to peruse. That’s true of all Countrymans, but the One D stands out for its exceptionally low running costs.