Find a car review


Mini Countryman review - Mini looks, but where's the Mini fun?

Mini’s new SUV has grown up, but it’s lost the Mini fun factor along the way

Evo rating
from £22,465
  • Refined, comfortable, quality cabin, effective all-wheel drive
  • Grown up at the expense of enjoyment, grabby brakes

We can’t expect Mini to build ten-foot-long, era-defining city cars any more, but we do expect the BMW-owned company to turn out cars that are fun to drive and show up their rivals as sloppy, dull and character-free.

Unfortunately, the latest Mini Countryman doesn’t manage that. It’s undoubtedly a more rounded product than its predecessor and makes gains in all the areas you’d expect, from quality, through equipment and safety, to performance and economy. But in making a more mature, refined product, the Countryman moves even further away from the characteristics that until now have allowed even the least-mini Minis to put a smile on your face.

Subscribe to evo magazine

If you're passionate about the world's greatest performance cars, experience the thrill of driving with evo magazine. Try your first 5 issues for £5.

> Mini Cooper review - retro hot hatch is as fun as ever

And the Countryman is getting expensive. While that’s to be expected, and similarly-sized crossovers stray into similar pricing territory, we can’t help but notice the availability of some proper evo performance favourites for similar money - notably a wide range of hot hatchbacks, most of which are as practical as the jacked-up Countryman but considerably better to drive.

Mini Countryman in detail

> Performance and 0-60 time - Decent on-paper figures, but performance is blunted somewhat by the Countryman’s weight. Cooper S feels disappointingly strained.

Advertisement - Article continues below

> Engine and gearbox - Petrols and diesels, manuals and autos, front- and all-wheel drive. There’s plenty of variety here.

> Ride and handling - The Mini that doesn’t feel like a Mini. Perfectly competent, and rides well, but the fun-factor is slowly being lost.

> MPG and running costs - Diesels are most frugal, but petrols aren’t far behind. All-wheel drive harms the on-paper figures.

> Interior and tech - Better quality than before and all works well, but for some the cabin’s retro look will be a bit too much.

> Design - Some uncomfortable details and proportions. It’s hard to be original when your product lineup has to draw inspiration from a 1959 city car.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Prices, specs and rivals

£22,465 will get you behind the wheel of a Cooper Countryman, provided you stay away from Mini’s extensive options range. All-wheel drive (available on all models) adds £1090 to that figure, while the automatic transmission will set you back £1495.

Next up is the Cooper D at £24,425, while the Cooper S starts at £24,710. To step up to the Cooper SD (auto only) will cost you £27,965, and the John Cooper Works ALL4 begins at £30,675.

It goes without saying that all models are therefore a fair chunk of money, and the equivalent cash would net you plenty of options in the hot hatchback class. For Cooper money you could get a Ford Focus ST, while the JCW is well into Volkswagen Golf R territory.

But let’s assume that only a crossover will do. The new kid on the block is Toyota’s C-HR, whose futuristic styling is a counterpoint to the Mini’s retro vibe and has the nimble handling, precise steering and throttle-adjustability that were all characteristics you might have found in a Mini back in the day. Engine options are unfortunately limited (there’s a 1.2 turbo and a 1.8 hybrid) but it’s a compelling alternative.

The Countryman’s pricing creeps into premium territory, so you might also consider cars like the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA and Lexus NX as you stray further up the range.


Most Popular

spy shots

Porsche Cayman GT4 RS spied – 718 to receive Rennsport treatment

More power, more aero and less weight are already on the cards for Stuttgart’s fastest Cayman
19 Sep 2019
Best cars

Best V8 cars past and present – our favourite eights and the cars they’re found in

Whether it’s smooth and sophisticated or motorsport-like in its aggression, the V8 remains one of our favourite engine types, warts and all
20 Sep 2019
Volkswagen Golf hatchback

Volkswagen Golf Mk8 spied near-free of camouflage before October debut

All-new eighth-generation Golf is only weeks away from its reveal – this is all you need to know.
18 Sep 2019
Advertisement Feature

Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperSport (advertisement feature)

We went to Bedford Autodrome to find out what evo readers think of Goodyear’s new Eagle F1 SuperSport Ultra Ultra High Performance tyres
10 Jul 2019