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!