For MINI lovers who think big, the Countryman offers four-door convenience, a rear seat for adults, and three times the cargo capacity of the MINI hatchback on which it's based. Although the Countryman doesn’t quite measure up to small crossovers, its sprightly handling and charming looks make it a standout.
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2016 MINI Countryman Overview
What's New for 2016
The Countryman receives minor equipment revisions only.
Choosing Your MINI Countryman
The Countryman offers outstanding rear passenger room for a car with such a tiny footprint. Two full-size adults fit comfortably, and the seat slides and reclines to make maximum use of the space. With the seat folded, you're looking at 42.2 cubic feet of cargo space, which is competitive with the smallest crossovers on the market.
All models make use of a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, which produces 121 horsepower in standard form and 181 horsepower with the optional turbocharger. There’s also a special version of the turbo that puts out 211 horsepower. With all variants, you can stick with the standard six-speed manual transmission or opt for a six-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is available, even with the manual, a combo that's almost unheard of these days. Selectable driving modes are standard across the board.
The amount of power you get depends on the trim level:
- Base: Comes with the non-turbo engine and a high level of equipment for this class, including automatic headlamps and wipers, a chilled glove box, keyless ignition, leatherette upholstery, and a six-speaker sound system with HD radio.
- S: Adds the 181-horsepower turbocharged engine along with adjustable traction control, sport seats, and specific exterior trim. All-wheel drive is optional.
- John Cooper Works: Receives a bundle of performance upgrades, including the 211-horsepower turbo, standard all-wheel drive, a sport-tuned suspension, and 18-inch wheels. You also get more aggressive styling touches and grippy cloth upholstery.
Major options for all models include a panoramic sunroof, navigation, leather seating, rear bucket seats, and a full-feature Harman Kardon sound system. The JCW's upgraded suspension is available on the other models as a standalone option. It’s easy to give any Countryman a custom look with the huge array of available body graphics, color schemes, wheels, and interior trim.
With its ample power and available all-wheel drive, the midrange S is the best choice for everyday driving. The base model is simply underpowered, and the JCW rides too firmly for most people's tastes.
2016 MINI Countryman Review
After starting with the basic retro-styled two-door hatchback in 2002, BMW’s MINI organization developed a series of offshoots. Introduced for 2011, the four-door Countryman is the only one that’s available with all-wheel drive (ALL4). Otherwise, the Countryman—like other MINIs—comes with a choice of three engines. Back in the Sixties, the original MINI also came in a few variant body styles.
Pricing and Equipment
Starting at $22,750 (plus $850 destination charge), the Countryman comes in four levels: base-model, Countryman S, Countryman S ALL4 with all-wheel drive, and John Cooper Works ALL4. Other MINIs have switched to BMW-derived TwinTurbo engines, but the Countryman retains its original powertrains.
The base model holds a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 121 horsepower, with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic transmission. Countryman S and S ALL4 get a turbocharged 1.6-liter that develops 181 horsepower, while the high-performance John Cooper Works model contains a 208-horsepower rendition of the 1.6-liter turbo four.
Standard Cooper Countryman S ALL4 equipment includes:
- All-wheel drive
- Cooper S 181-horsepower engine
- Getrag six-speed manual transmission
- Electric power steering
- Tilt/telescope steering column
- Leatherette seat upholstery
- Mesh grille and hood scoop
- 315-watt, six-speaker audio with HE radio
- Cornering brake control
- Bluetooth hands-free phone
- Roof rails
- Heated power mirrors and washer jets
- Seventeen-inch alloy wheels
An automatic transmission is optional ($1,250). Also optional are a moonroof, premium Harman/Kardon sound system, Sport Package, Park Lane Edition, Mini Connect infotainment, and a navigation system.
- All-wheel drive availability. AWD is a sensible option for anyone living in areas where inclement weather is an issue, though it's a bit unexpected for a MINI. Then again, with its tall wagon profile, the Countryman isn't quite an ordinary MINI.
- Crash-test scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety are Good in every category, though the federal government has not tested the Countryman.
- Steering and handling aren't on par with other MINI models, including the basic Cooper hatchback, but the Countryman behaves better than any rivals on the road.
- Acceleration with the base model is on the sluggish side, especially with all-wheel drive.
- Active-safety features are mostly absent, even as options.
- Electric power steering feels somewhat numb, though maneuverability is a strong point, as on all MINI models.
- Comfortable front seats aid the driving experience.
- Unlike Cooper hardtops, the Countryman retains a variant of the center-mounted speedometer that long served as a hallmark of the brand--though many buyers favor the more modern layout, with both the tachometer and speedometer ahead of the driver.
- Available MINI Connected infotainment system can integrate smartphones and provide internet-based services.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
Despite its different body shape, the delightful nature that defines the MINI brand hasn’t disappeared. It’s overshadowed somewhat, but the driving pleasure from other members of the group can still be observed and enjoyed—with almost enough room in back for a pair of actual adults.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
Considering that regular Cooper hatchbacks and convertibles have adopted new TwinPower turbo engines, including a three-cylinder base engine, continuing with the previous 1.6-liter four-cylinders in the Countryman seems a little odd and behind the times.
The Bottom Line
As much as we enjoy and admire various members of the MINI lineup, the Countryman seems more like a distant cousin—maybe even an outsider. With so many small wagons and compact or smaller crossover models available these days, many with available all-wheel drive, it’s hard to see the Countryman as a viable competitor.