When the first redesigned MINI Cooper was released in the U.S. back in 2001 it was a huge hit. It was small, quick and handled like a slot car and with that funky interior, it was a car that was difficult not to like. Over the last nine years there have been a couple of changes, but by and large the MINI as a whole looks pretty much the same as it did when it was first released. Two years ago though, MINI introduced the Clubman. It was a bit bigger with a split tailgate design and was designed for those who loved the original but wanted a bit more room.
For 2011 MINI takes the Cooper one step further by offering the new 2011 Countryman. Think of it as a MINI on steroids, but in very small doses. The Countryman is MINI’s gift to all those who want MINI styling and performance, but with a bit more room and all-season flexibility. Right from the get-go you’ll notice a considerable size difference as well as two extra doors. Up close the Countryman really is a burly little beastie and with the All4’s elevated stance it gives one the impression that the MINI is actually quite larger than it actually is. This is the MINI for those who have grown up from the original.
The Countryman you see here is the Cooper-S version and is loaded with all the goodies including blacked out 5-spoke wheels, roof-rack and macho mini fender flares. The Countryman will be available in front wheel or all-wheel drive configurations and will be powered by either a 1.6-liter, 121 HP four cylinder or 1.6 Turbo with a 181 HP for the Cooper-S. In speaking with the MINI representative I was also told that the handling will feel just as sporty and nimble as that of the standard Cooper and Clubman.
Interior wise MINI has managed to maintain their funky side with a nice center view speedo and smaller tachometer located in plain view behind the steering wheel. For a 6’4″ guy like me the new Countryman offers plenty of front head and leg room with no annoying protrusions like a big bulky center console. The seats are nice and supportive as well. Rear buckets are comfy but passengers over say 5’10” may find themselves to be a bit cramped on longer trips.
The Countryman is MINI’s answer for the crossover vehicle. It’s big enough to accommodate a family of four, has all season capability and performance and retains the great look and feel that MINI fans worldwide fell in love with almost ten years ago.