Mini has been long associated with small cars that were fun. Not just to drive but enjoyable to the core with its quirky features as well.
As with life, we do have to grow up and be our own family man or woman. That’s why in 2010, Mini decided to come up with something for the family and more – the Countryman.
The car we’re driving is the mid-cycle update of the second-generation F60 which originally launched in 2017. The local rollout -like our lives- was put to a momentary halt, only making its way to the Philippines in late 2021. For this release Mini Philippines decided to only offer the Countryman in the Cooper S trim as the starting model. There is, however, a JCW (John Cooper Works) version as the premium performance trim.
I have to say the update is rather mild, most of the work was done on the bumpers to make it look sleeker and more urban with the new aluminum accents. The grille now gets fully blacked out. There’s also a new set of 19-inch “turnstile spoke” wheels. A new pair of Union Jack pattern tail lamps to give it a "fun character". Overall, it appears like a more consistent-looking "Mini" in crossover form compared to the bulky look of the first-generation Countryman.
Once you settle yourself on the driver's seat, you are welcomed by a new full digital cluster. The new display greatly improves how the driving info is shown but we do miss the "weighing-scale" style speedometer. The ergonomics of the car and controls remain largely the same.
The infotainment system gets additional support for wireless Apple Carplay, which I found more convenient. It pumps out music through a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system. The screen, however, is a bit too "mini" for this age of large infotainment screens; perhaps they should have done away with the round motif.
Other amenities include dual-zone automatic control, a power-adjustable driver's seat with memory function, a power tailgate, and a digital heads-up display. There's also a picnic bench hidden at the back, great for when you're having some quality time outdoors or at a nearby park where you'd rather sit and sip by your car. It can also double as a bumper protection mat should you load bulky cargo.
As with all Minis, the front seats come with nice bolstering to keep you planted for spirited driving. For rear occupants, seating is nice and comfortable, legroom is also decent.
As for cargo, it can hold about 450 liters with the rear seats up, 1,000 liters with the combo seatback folded, and a maximum of 1,390 liters with both seatbacks down.
As with the 2019 local update, the car we’re driving is powered by the B48 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo it shares with its BMW UKL2 stablemates X1 and X2. It is now mated to a 7-speed DCT, replacing the Aisin-sourced 8-speed automatic. It is now rated at 192 PS at 5000 RPM and 280 Nm of torque at 1250 RPM, a little less on peak torque but somewhat negligible.
The change to a gasoline or petrol engine greatly improved driving comfort as there's less vibration compared to a diesel engine. Power and torque are easily available on tap, especially when you activate 'sport mode' which brings out the lively side of the Countryman. The 7-speed DCT goes through gears quickly giving better overall acceleration.
Handling-wise, it is quite good considering its "taller" stance; it can take on corners respectably without much effort and body roll. However, the ride comfort is a bit on the firm side with the 19-inch wheel and tire combo that gives it a better look and stance.
The Mini brand has always been about fun and playfulness, as seen with the unique touches here and there. There isn't a lack of fun factor in driving this. But as a crossover, one would expect a certain level of compromise for practicality.
Fun and all, but the real challenge Mini has to hurdle is its hefty price tag despite being a bit less than the predecessor at Php 3,750,000. It goes against BMW X1, Lexus UX, and Mercedes-Benz GLA, priced about 10-20% less with premium badges and status to boot. You can even get a larger Lexus NX 350h for less.
If you want a different type of lifestyle crossover though, then the Countryman S could be the one for you.
- Make: Mini
- Model: Countryman Cooper S
- Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve Inline-4 TwinPower Turbo
- Max Power: 192 PS @ 5000 rpm
- Max Torque: 280 Nm @ 1250 rpm
- Transmission: 7-speed DCT
- Price as Tested: ₱3,750,000