Home Editors' Picks Mini Countryman: Dichotomous me

Mini Countryman: Dichotomous me

Split 2nd

The Countryman wants you to lend it your ears

FOR A LITTLE over four decades (from 1959 to 2000), the Mini was a triumph of interior packaging. Tiny on the outside, it stunned those who would venture inside its surprisingly spacious cabin. The design genius of Sir Alec Issigonis would become the template of all front-wheel drive cars when they became the norm in the ’80s.

Fast-forward to the present. It’s the age of crossovers and SUVs — a time when one of Toyota’s best-sellers is a big SUV and Ford’s top sellers (here and in the US) are humongous trucks.

What is an iconic small car manufacturer to do? Lend its ears and listen to the customers, that’s what.

And that’s precisely what Mini did when it unveiled its biggest-ever model 12 years ago. The aptly named Countryman literally crossed over to a new genre when it presented a compelling concept: A still relatively small car that retains the celebrated go-kart-like driving dynamics of a Mini while offering more generous interior capacity and improved go-anywhere capability, thanks to a higher ground clearance and the usual off-road protective body cladding.

Needless to say, the game-changing, segment-redefining new Mini was such that more than half-a-million Countrymans have since been sold worldwide. And now the latest edition of the Countryman goes even further in versatility, agility, and luxury.

Roughly eight inches longer than its predecessor, the latest Countryman is the biggest, roomiest, and most versatile model in the brand’s history. It boasts cool features like a touchscreen infotainment system for the signature huge 8.8-inch circular display in the center of the dash, a stunning Harman Kardon audio system, an electric tailgate with foot motion-operated opening and closing, customizable cabin ambient lighting, and even a fold-out sill cushion that doubles as a picnic bench for the coolest tailgate party.

The latest Countryman is 30mm wider and its wheelbase has been extended by 75mm, making it a true five-seater with a significantly bigger cargo space. Particularly genius are the rear seats. The seatback splits 40/20/40 while the bottom cushion, which can be moved forward and backward up to 13cm, is split 60/40. The cargo area has a 450-liter volume that can be expanded to 1,390 liters with the rear seats folded.

Style-wise, the Countryman is every inch a Mini, displaying most of the brand’s beloved design details but with a mud-proof, higher riding stance. This is arguably the first Mini that can function as a vehicle for one-car families.

The Mini Cooper S Countryman is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder petrol engine (mated to an eight-speed Sport automatic) developing 192hp at 5,000rpm to 6,000rpm and 280Nm of torque from as low as 1,350rpm. It can accelerate from a standstill to 100kph in just 7.5 seconds and reach a 225kph top speed.

State-of-the-art Dynamic Damper Control is also available for the Countryman. Two program maps can be activated for the electronically controlled dampers via the optional Mini Driving Modes. A rotary switch at the base of the gear lever enables the driver to select between Mid, Sport, and Green modes. This adjusts the car’s responsiveness to the driver’s motions on the accelerator pedal and steering wheel, the quickness of the gearshifts, the operating mode of electrically powered comfort features and even the engine sound.

The standard Collision Warning with City Braking function can be extended to include the Driving Assistant system with camera-based Active Cruise Control, Pedestrian Warning with Initial Brake function, High Beam Assistant and Road Sign Detection. Park Distance Control, Rearview Camera, Parking Assistant and Head-Up Display are also optionally available.

The Mini Cooper S Countryman retails for P3.75 million and tops out at P4.85 million for the sensationally fast Mini John Cooper Works Countryman.

The Mini Countryman presents the ideal blend of exclusivity, technology, design, performance, and versatility to take on even the finest — and much more expensive — luxury European crossovers. It’s an overachiever in every sense of the word.