Kuyper: Mini grows into Countryman proportions

The 2018 Mini S Countryman All4 has a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The 2018 Mini S Countryman All4 has a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

The most spacious Mini on the market has arrived. It is the 2018 Countryman. An S E All4 model was tested recently. The All4 means all-wheel-drive; the “S” means upgrade trim; and the “E” stands for electric, as this is a hybrid gas-electric wagon. The All4, S and E are options that raise the starting price of a Countryman from $26,600 to $36,800.

The upgrade S trim replaced a six-speed stick shift with a six-speed automatic and turned 17- into 18-inch alloy wheels. The electric component raised horsepower from 134 to 221.

The market is loaded with these subcompact SUVs or wagons. Countryman competitors include Audi Q3, BMW X1, Buick Encore, Fiat 500X, Ford EcoSport, Hyundai Kona, Infiniti Q30, Jeep Renegade, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Nissan Rogue Sport and Toyota C-HR. Most of these subcompacts have come to market in recent years, appealing to buyers who like the price and SUV-wagon design.

For those interested in a spirited small city or suburban wagon with some elan to it, the Countryman is a good choice. The wagon fits easily into cramped parking quarters and is big enough to take a small family on a tour of the countryside. The cargo area is spacious and suitable for overnight trips. Overhead roof rails can safely carry 150 pounds of cargo.

The 1.5-liter, twin-turbocharged three-cylinder engine is very peppy and can go from zero to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds. Since BMW owns Mini, the engine is from Germany, which helps explain performance.

Also, the wagon is economical. It averaged 26.8 mpg while operating on gasoline alone during test week. Two adults were aboard for rides on interstates and suburban roadways. The manufacturer claims the average mpg is 65 if the electric is fully used. With a 240-volt outlet, the battery pack can be recharged in three hours. The electric motor-combustion engine mix is up to the driver, who can choose either Auto eDrive, Max eDrive or Save Battery modes.

The interior is laid out sensibly. Some controls, including start and stop, are on toggle switches. If there were a panoramic sunroof, and the test Countryman did not have this option, its operation would be on a toggle switch. Controls for the heated exterior power mirrors, though, remain on front door panels.

The 40-20-40 split rear seats fold down individually. A buyer can opt for a foldable cargo floor, and even a foldable picnic cushion option that transforms the rear bumper into a cushioned seat. Option price information can be provided by a dealer or signing up for information on the company’s website. Most options are in packages that can cost from $1,500 to $4,000. Standalone options cost less, such as $300 for one year of free satellite radio and $750 for a heads-up display (legal speed and actual speed reflected onto the windshield in front of driver). Those two standalones were on the test Countryman and so was the $500 optional silver metallic exterior finish. The three options, plus $850 delivery, raised the suggested manufacturer’s price of $36,800 to $39,700.

Standard inclusions on the $36,800 Countryman are power and heated front seats, door locks and the exterior mirrors, LED fog and headlights, leather trim, ambient lighting, six-speaker sound system for AM-FM high definition radio and auxiliary ports, connected app system for smartphone usage, charging socket, dual zone automatic climate control and real time traffic information via a MINI system.

The Countryman’s sound and climate systems are easy to operate and understand. After finding them, and it took some practice, the levers for front seat adjustments worked well. It can get loud in the Countryman as outside noise does get inside the cabin.

Rear child seat anchors, whether in a Mini or a BMW, are among the easiest to install. Instead of searching for an anchor bar seatback crevasse, those anchor bars are in a rectangular box with a flip top lid.

One of the Countryman’s advantages over competitors is the 37.6 inches of leg room in the rear seat. The powerplant is a big plus, too, as well as the solid ride.


Vehicle: 2018 Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4

Type: all-wheel-drive, five-passenger, four-door hybrid subcompact wagon

Price: $36,800

Power sources: 1.5-liter, 134-horsepower turbocharged three-cylinder, electric motor with lithium-ion battery pack 87 horsepower

Transmission: six-speed automatic

Performance: Zero to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds

Fuel: 91 octane recommended

Fuel tank: 16 gallons

Cargo: 17.6 cubic feet rear seats up, 23.5 cubic feet rear seats folded flat

Leg room: 40.4 inches front, 37.6 inches rear

Wheelbase, length, width, height in inches: 105, 170, 72, 61

Weight: 3,690 pounds

Safety: antilock brakes, stability control, eight airbags, puddle lights with Mini logo (helps locate vehicle at night), park distance control sensors, rear camera

Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles, 8 years/80,000 miles battery, 4 years/unlimited mileage roadside assistance

Assembly: Netherlands


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