Friday, July 28, 2017

Bucket Seat: Mini Countryman Cooper

After having tested the Mini Countryman Cooper S earlier on in the year, when I was told I was getting the bottom of the range Countryman Cooper to test, it seemed to have been a bit of an anticlimax. I mean, how could I possibly enjoy the 1.5L twin-turbo motor variant of Mini's SUV range more than the 2L twin-turbo? Well, funnily enough, I did! While the engines do play a big part in a car, with Mini there's so many other aspects to their cars that oddly enough, you can have fun in any of the engine variants. That is the one major points that differentiate Mini from it's competitors and make it the brand it is. I know many look at the brand and think its just overpriced cars for a select market but people seem to link Mini to it's humble beginnings where it was an affordable, low income targeted vehicle. The brand ever since being reborn has transformed into a luxury premium offering, almost scrapping the essence of it's nature but it was for the better.


Every aspect of this cars design must be appreciated, while many would say the changes that differentiate this Countryman to it's predecessor are minimal but it's the subtle nature of these changes that make the big difference. The car is now longer and wider than before, as well as taller. The new Countryman has more bulk than before and the addition of the roof racks adds to this masculine look. For me though, the interior of this car was one of the best I've seen from Mini and a true reflection of how far they have gone in creating options for each Mini owner to make a car that is unique and a true reflection of themselves. The seats had the cross-sectional stitching which brought out the brown/tan colour of the leather, it really caught your eye when opening the door. The Mini welcome mat is an awesome extra, to greet the driver on arrival, the interior mood lights add that ambiance at night when in the car. The detail gone into the middle console is fantastic with all the switches finished in chrome, the huge infotainment screen is big and pronounced up top. Displaying information and easy navigation from the jog-shuttle controller situated behind the gear selector.


While the interior looks nice, it really is damn comfortable. With the extra space in the cabin due to the overall size of the car being made bigger, it feels as if the seats are also bigger than normal. There is the option to have the front seats heated as well, to help on those frosty cold winter mornings and evenings. The cabin is spacious enough to accommodate 4 adults, I suppose one can seat 5 in there, with just a tiny squeeze. The new Countryman also has the new optional extra offering of a picnic bench. Which conveniently folds away under the boot floor. Taking it out is just as simple as it opens out over the rear bumper with the cushion positions just on the tailgate. Ride quality, as per the Cooper S is magnificent. The engineers really have done a great job on the suspension with smooth driving on any surfaces. I did take the Countryman on some gravel trails and it handled it with ease. While it not might be a fully fledged 4x4, it does the SUV thing pretty well. 

Picture by @mvrc1988


Like I said at the start, this cars engine could do very little to persuade me over its bigger brother but surprisingly the 1.5L Twin Turbo engine that comes in the Mini Countryman Cooper isn't that bad. It's no slouch having to cart around this very heavy vehice. The engine pushes out 100kW with 220Nm of torque, pretty average numbers especially when you consider the type of vehicle its in but if you think of the purpose this car is serving, its pretty good. It has the perfect amount of grunt when needed but still perfect to cruise around with. When it comes to fuel economy, the weight will come into to factor again, while the claimed fuel consumption is 6 liters to a 100km, I very often found myself hitting the high 11L/100km. This could be due to my irradic driving style but the car is very thirsty. 

Picture by @mvrc1988


Overall, I really love this car. It's a Mini, its fun to drive and the high premium options one has to spec this car is insane. I love how you can personalise the car to such an extent and that makes every Mini made, sort of unique. They added the right type of extras which come standard to the car which make it that much more great. The roof racks and automatic tail gate, so you don't have to physically open and close the boot yourself. Downside has to be the it's appetite for fuel, I found myself having have to fill this car twice during my 7 days with it but there is some good news, Mini have confirmed that they will be bring a diesel version of the Countryman to our country in the last quarter of this year. I would love to see how that one performs.

Picture by @mvrc1988


 1.5 litre, Twin Turbo 4 cylinder
 Gear Box
 6 speed automatic
 Top Speed
 9.6  seconds
 R 428,500*

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