I’ve always been a fan of Mini, and my wife has been threatening to buy a Cooper S as her next car for about five years now. I’ve always wished they were just a bit bigger and had an AWD option for even better handling. It looks like I’m running out of excuses to buy one, since Mini just unveiled the Cooper S Countryman with available AWD at last week’s Paris Auto Show.
The Countryman is a longer (by 5.5 inches), wider and taller version of the Mini, built to target the SUV market (though calling it an SUV, in my option, is a bit of a stretch). The Countryman features four doors and a large tailgate, which makes it equally adept at hauling passengers (an optional rear bench seat will hold 3 adults), dogs or cargo. The S version comes with a turbocharged 1.6 liter four, good for 181 horsepower, and offers Mini’s ALL4 AWD system as an option. As you’d expect from Mini, both manual and automatic transmissions are available.
Mini claims that the Countryman’s suspension has been reworked to enhance the car’s off-road capability. Based on the images I’ve seen, the Countryman’s ground clearance will limit it to dirt roads (even fire roads are a bit ambitious), but that’s fine with me since I’ve got a 4wd truck for the off road stuff. I can’t wait to test the Cooper S Countryman, and I promise you a full review after I drive it.