How are we to respond to the coming of the Countryman? It’s a MINI. It’s an SUV. It’s got four doors for crying out loud. So what exactly is this thing and are you ready for it?
On the one hand you could argue that the Countryman is just the response from a car company trying to keep up with trends. See the Porsche Cayenne for one glaring example. Extend the line and you extend the brand and so extend your reach into the car buying publics’ collective pockets.
OK fine. But on the other hand you could argue that giving your current car some added ground clearance to deal with bigger potholes and four doors to deal with passengers with bigger potbellies isn’t exactly a “Cayenne” leap. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s still a MINI, isn’t it?
2011 Mini Countryman Cooper S ALL4
Engine: Turbocharged inline-4, 1.6 liters, 16v
Output: 184 hp/177 lb-ft (192 lb/ft w/overboost)
0-62 MPH: 7.6 sec
Top Speed: 132 mph
Cargo Volume: 43.1 cu ft
Base Price: $31,000 (est.)
Besides the four-door thing, the Countryman also comes available with the ALL4 System, which is a handy 240-lb. electromagnetic muilti-plate clutch system that throws the power around between the front and rear axles. Normally it works in a 98% front, 2% rear formation, but you can also adjust it to an even 50/50 split or take out your stability control and it throws 100% to the rear. This isn’t exactly Land Rover territory, but it will get you stuff that would leave you stranded in a “standard” MINI.
Then there’s the question of style, which is up to the beholder, of course. You’ll get the “MINI on steroids” thing a lot, which may or may not be a bad thing, depending upon whether you’re a professional athlete. There will be those who go all nostalgic on you, pining for the “old look” but that happens with every new variation on every car.
Performance-wise, the S model sports a 184-hp and a Getrag six-speed manual transmission and, let’s face it, the Countryman is bound to move better than anything else in its class. It won’t be all go-kart like its stablemates, but it’s taller, heavier and much more spacious.
I guess like everything there is compromise. If you don’t like it, it’s likely you were never going to. If you do, you’re a MINI lover and no one is going to dissuade you.
Now, bring on the Beachcomber!
SIGN UP for the Latest Deals on MINI Parts & MINI News!
Please wait while we calculate your shipping cost.....