For those of us who crave a vehicle with design distinction, how can something so cute, so distinctive and yet so flexible be ruled out? It can't and it really shouldn't. The Countryman is good for most average small-family errands, and on the weekends, it works well for parents whose kids' activities require smaller gear. Or even better yet, it could be a family's second car.
The Countryman is a crossover; it has four doors, and the Mini Cooper S Countryman has available all-wheel drive. All of these new aspects of the Countryman make Mini purists wince, but if you have no Mini snobbery about you, you'll be pleased that Mini took this leap into larger territory.
This four-seater is for parents who like to drive. The famed Mini go-kart handling remains intact and is sure to make any driver quite happy. Non-kid, aka adult, passengers will have a little rougher go of it only because the Countryman's suspension is so stiff and sporty. If the sportiness isn't enough for you, just switch to Sport mode for even "quicker throttle response and steering response," says Mini. I just call it more fun. I loved that the automatic transmission in my Mini Cooper S Countryman test car was almost as much fun as any stick shift I've driven.
Kids will likely adore the Countryman. Mine did, but they also really like to ride roller coasters 10 times in a row. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine is a blast, and the tight steering and responsive brakes turn anyone into a grinning lunatic behind the wheel, even poised princes and princesses.
Maybe the Windsors wanted to consider something more upscale. OK, fine, but with a more upscale price than most cars in its class, the Mini could have been an offering. The Countryman starts at $21,650. The turbocharged Mini Cooper S Countryman starts at $25,250; my test car, which had all-wheel drive, rang up at $35,150. That's more than a few pence, m'lady.
The chasm of utility that Mini has bridged by putting four doors on its beloved vehicle, giving it available all-wheel drive and adding just a little more room is pretty amazing. The raised ground clearance and available all-wheel drive are just what the doctor ordered for this Colorado mom and her family.
The Countryman's doors are tricky to use because the handles look like you should be able to pull them and the door will open. In reality, the handle needs to be squeezed with good effort to open the door. This will be a headache for smaller kids, but they'll grow into it and the next thing you know, they'll be out the door to college.