2021 Mini Countryman Cooper S Review – Growing up

You can’t deny that Mini as a nameplate and as a brand is an icon – a celebratory figure, even. With appearances in movies, TV shows, and practically everywhere, the trusty small car is known across all ages.

But Mini models are grown up now, thanks to its relaunch as a brand back in 2000 under BMW. Ang the biggest of the bunch is the Mini Countryman.

With its sizable increase in overall dimensions, does the Countryman still carry the esteemed go-kart feel that Mini Coopers are best known for? Here’s an in-depth review of the Countryman Cooper S in Pure variant.

Exterior

Despite being bigger than regular Minis, the Countryman retains the Mini design ethos that made it an icon. You get the rounded headlamps, the mustache grille, the standard two-box shape – basically it’s still a Mini even at a single glance. That includes the luxury of customization you get when you buy a Mini, which you can arrange with the dealer.

In terms of specifics, you get LEDs all over, plus you have a choice as to which 18-inch alloys you want your crossover to come with. I personally like the classic-looking almost banana-type rims, though I’m not really a huge fan of the full-shape LED DRLs upfront. The mix of black trims and chromes, albeit busy, is in tune with the Countryman’s character, as well as the bike rack – but the latter’s an option you can buy.

Size-wise, the Countryman’s longer and wider than subcompact crossovers like the Honda HR-V, but its ground clearance is only at 165mm. That isn’t too shabby, though, as it can clear reasonable gutters with ease.

Interior

As with any other Mini available in the market today, the Countryman’s cabin literally filled with circles. From buttons to vents, even the jukebox-looking infotainment, everything’s circular and fun-looking. The atmosphere’s playful and youthful as well, especially the multi-color ambient lights employed in the cabin.

Unlike the smaller Minis, the Countryman has plenty of spaces for luggage (450-1,390L) and people. You also get plenty of cubbyholes and cupholders for your things, though you’d be hard-pressed to find a suitable area for your smartphone while charging. For tall individuals, the front seats have leg extenders for maximum comfort. Rear passengers, on the other hand, will appreciate the A/C vents but they have to live with it knowing the fact that a foldable center armrest with cupholders is missing.

For materials used, most of the touchpoints are soft and covered in leather. There are a number of hard plastics but very minimal, although Mini should have done away with scratch-prone piano black plastic trimmings for longevity.

A little party trick: the motorcycle-inspired gauge clusters adjust with the tilt-adjustable and telescopic steering wheel, while the LEDs around the infotainment move with the knobs – both cool tricks in their own rights. And oh, there’s cushioned seat at the trunk that you can store when isn’t in use.

Tech & Safety

In terms of technology, the Mini Countryman is pretty much on par with its contemporaries. You get easy-to-use cruise control, plus the good-looking screen, albeit slightly small, comes with a high-definition display for the rear camera and a very intuitive Mini version of BMW’s iDrive system. The electronic parking brake isn’t a surprise in this day and age, but I wish Mini had this unit come with an auto brake hold as well to complete the package. 

But at least all windows are automatic and there’s a foot-operated power tailgate, plus the right side mirror arbitrarily tilts down on reverse. Safety isn’t an issue as well as the Countryman’s equipped with standard equipment like a full set of airbags, stability control, and a bevy of proximity sensors.

Driving & Handling

Surprisingly, driving visibility isn’t hampered in the Countryman despite the unusual dashboard layout and a plethora of circular elements. Even with the round side mirrors, rear visibility’s okay thanks to the concave edges.

You need all the vista you can get with the Countryman because it isn’t a slow car. Matter of fact, it’s quick and responsive to accelerator inputs – much of the merit comes from the 8-speed automatic transmission that reacts sprightly to demand. The steering’s likewise responsive, as well, though it felt marginally more assisted compared to the small Mini Coopers.

For this S variant, despite the additional weight coming from the increased overall size, the 192hp and 280Nm of torque coming from the 2.0-liter BMW B48 engine were just enough for a satisfying, respectful drive.

The four disc brakes, on the other hand, were more than enough to safely put this crossover’s weight to a halt.

Fuel Efficiency

In mixed city and highway drives, the Mini Countryman Cooper S yielded 11.1 km/L but a pure highway run at average speed of 90 km/h read back 19 km/L. 

These numbers are quite fine and expected from a vehicle of this size and weight, considering that the 2.0-liter gasoline engine is paired with a twin-scroll turbo.

Verdict

The Mini Countryman ticks all the right boxes you normally would with a regular-sized Cooper. Even better, it’s also practical in terms of usable space. It’s basically the Mini you’ll buy if you want a stand-out vehicle but you also need space for outings, cargo, and even for a small family. It isn’t just a car; it’s also a fashion statement, one that grown-ups would choose if they want a Mini but want practicality.

Then there’s the question of price. At P3,250,000 for this “entry-level” Cooper S Pure variant, it is, of course, not your usual mainstream buy. But if you have the means, and if you can live with the minor issues I’ve discussed here, I don’t really see why you shouldn’t consider buying one.

Now, the question is: if I buy two of these, do I have two Countrymans or two Countrymen?

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