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Monday, August 9, 2010


I have been waiting for this car/truck/ something in between for quite a while now. By the way I know its officially an SAV. Let me say I am very excited to finally see some official photos. It is long over due that Mini has finally expanded their line up with something "different". Yes different. Not a stretched out Cooper but a raised up 4 wheel drive Mini Ute. A model that finally appeal to someone other than the current Mini owner.
All wheel drive will be the biggest selling point. Not being able to own a All drive Mini I believe really hurt the market for Mini. Canadians have made it their point to own at least All wheel drive whenever possible. There is a reason you can now buy a BMW 7 series in X drive as well as Mercedes S Class. You can even buy Jaguar and Bentley 4 wheel and all wheel drive models.
It simply does not matter if you like it for performance, safety or just piece of mind... All wheel drive SELLS. I would encourage anyone buying a new vehicle if there is a choice, get it. Its usually not an expensive upgrade an once you have it its there. Even if you live in Vancouver or Seattle and all you get is rain. Its just that much better.
Another big plus is the utility of this new model. A lot of people are quickly turned off by the fact that current Minis have a little rear seat and very little trunk space. The Clubman was really just a band-aid on a bigger issue. This model now adds needed space and utility that will bring back customers originally interested in Mini but needed something more. Honestly, everyone would like a little bit more room in their Mini. As for the third row, I do not think it will that many. More interior space is what people are really looking for in a Mini, not just more seats.

I see this Mini SAV being the perfect road trip vehicle. More utility but still the DNA of a Mini which means sporting performance and handling with good comfort and economy. Where current Mini Cooper and Cooper S appeal really to younger buyers, this appeals more to smaller urban families. Perfect for families with younger children that still want to be fashionable and not carry the image of a Mini Van or gas guzzling Sport Utility. The 2+2 layout will also be nice for small families. Like all Minis I am sure this one will have a very good crash test rating as well.
With new models also comes new colours, interiors and options. Mini has become famous for its unique colours and even the current interior is very nice and upscale. I expect the Countryman to be as good if not significantly better. Another plus is the carry over of the large panoramic sunroof from the R56 and R55 models (Coopers and Clubmans). Not only do you get a large opening but a large glass that vents as well for the rear seat occupants. Something unique to Mini.
What makes a Mini so special is of course the driving. Nothing provides more bang for the buck in performance that Minis do. Many magazines have quoted the JCW models as being hands down the best sports car at $35000cdn and I personally have not driven anything else better for that money. Special Civics and hot rodded Acuras, Toyotas and the like have all tried but if its made by BMW you know its hard to beat. I am very excited for this model. I wish the Countryman lots of luck and hope it will sell at a rapid pace. For any doubters all I can say is drive one yourself. Go to the dealer and drive it. Drive it hard. You will be impressed!



  1. I like the looks of the Countryman but for our family it's not likely to happen (unless the size is bigger in person than I expect). Besides our MINI we have a 4Runner. I hate the new 2010 4Runners so when it comes time to replace it another is out of the question. Occasionally we need something more utilitarian. Something we can load up the roof (100KG) or tow with (+1000KG). Unless the Countryman offers those sorts of specs it won't be terribly useful. I'm really like the refreshed X3 and I'm leaning in that direction.

  2. I found these specs on Motoringfile:


    •Length / width / height (unladen) mm: 4,097 / 1,789 / 1,561 
- Wheelbase in mm: 2595 

    •Turning circle in m: 11.6 

    •Fuel tank capacity in liters: about 47 

    •Curb weight according to EU in pounds: 2,937 (3,003) 

    •DIN load in kg: 1034 
- Allowable Towing capacity: braked (12%) / unbraked 1650 / 1100 (pounds) 

    •Trunk capacity l: 350 / 442 / 1,170 
- Coefficient of drag: 0.37

    I would equate it to a Rav4 or other small SUVs (although they call it an SAV). Best candidates are the Yaletown crowd who have sound outdoor adventuring to do.

  3. Thank you for the comments Rixter.
    The Countryman will still be for the Yaletown type crowd. BMW's strategy is if you want to tow your boat or have a large family with a lot of gear you should step up into an X3 or X5. A Mini Cooper and a 4Runner is a very nice mix of cars. The 4Runner is a very capable 4 seasons truck with good utility and the Mini is an affordable sports hatch with a lot ofbang for the buck. I think the Countryman will be very appealing for the inner city type with a small family and limited parking. Families that can only really keep one vehicle.
    I believe the fuel tank should be larger than 47 liters because when an R56 is completely empty it will take 55 liters.
    The refreshed X3 will be a lot more modern than the one it replaces. The X3 has been LONG overdue for the new model. Thats not to say I did not like the outgoing X3. There has just been so much more technology since the X3 was first introduced. Also something to look out for and if the X1 makes it here early next year!

  4. The only real negatives I have read about in reviews concerns the driving characteristics. Understeer was a problem for the MINI hatch, and is apparently worse in the Countryman. This may be due to suspension that is softer with longer travel. And the steering response is reported to be lower than in the MINI hatch. I am very interested in the Countryman S All4, but it sounds like it may need a sport suspension option.

  5. Hey David,
    yes the understeer will always be a problem in the Mini. Front drive and forced induction/higher power obviously make understeer an issue. Even Mini Cooper without sport suspension is very tight and firm and customers complained even the softest ride was too hard. And this did come with its issues with damaged strut towers, wheels and tires on R50 and R53. I would agree the soft suspension would add to the understeer problem. The all wheel drive SHOULD cut down the understeer considerably and if you do start loose proper traction the traction systems are very good in that car. Larger vehicles and trucks almost always have less precise steering response and feedback than sporting cars. I do expect the Countryman in all aspects give up some performance to the more sporty Coopers. I think only a real long test drive will determine this. thanks for the comment David !

  6. I'm thinking the X1 and the Countryman will be very similar, just a brand preference (MINI or BMW), whichever people prefer.

    I love the styling on the X5 but that's a bit too expensive for me. The refreshed X3 looks very interesting though.

  7. I have not heard anything about the X1 and Countryman sharing platforms but it could be possible. I saw the X1 when I was in Germany last October. Very nice for an entry level SUV/SAV. X5s are very but very expensive. I think you will be happy when you see the new X3

  8. I believe I read over at MotoringFile.com that there were two separate design teams for the MINI Countryman and the BMW X1, so if they share anything, it probably isn't much, and probably by coincidence. Also, the X1 is being produced in Germany by BMW while the MINI Countryman is being produced in Austria by Magna. Parts coming from Austria! Technician to Owner: "It'll be 16 weeks for a new MINI Countryman Cooper S All4 transmission. (and if you're lucky) Here's keys to your MINI Cooper loaner."

  9. Hi Cal,
    I had the opportunity to sit inside several Countrymans at MINI Takes the States a couple weeks ago in Chicago->Denver.

    I found the finishes to be of a higher quality than what is in the current generation MINI. I also found that the inside space was very usable - just like in the current MINI. However, the press photos make the car look much larger than it really is. When you see it compared to a Clubman, the size difference from the outside is MINImal. The Countryman looks like a *slightly* wider but taller version of the Clubman.

    I think it will be very successful for the brand! (but I can't wait until the MINI Coupe comes out next summer!)


  10. Hi Chrissy !
    that is wonderful to hear you were able to see the Countryman in person. I think the interior you saw in the Countryman is a look into the near future where the Mini interior is going. The R56 interior was such a huge step from the R50/R52/R53 in terms of appearance and quality of finish. I do like the look of R56 interior and it seems Mini is looking to keep the theme ultra modern as they do forward. Very happy about that.

    I was never expecting the Countryman to give a large impression even with the smaller size. I really just expect it to have more utility and functional space in a larger volume than the Clubman. Like I said before, the clubman was a temporary solution to the standard Cooper's small lack of space. I am very excited to see this model.

    I just saw the face life for R56s on Friday. Nothing too crazy but very nice touches and bit more chrome looks elegant. The bigger news is the new engines of course. This should be a very exciting year for Mini ! And Yes, the Coupe will be fantastic !
    thanks for the comment Christina !