2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4

Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 1.6L I4
Power:
181 HP / 177 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Manual
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
2,954 LBS
Seating:
2+2
Cargo:
16.5 / 41.3 CU-FT
MPG:
25 City / 31 HWY
Welcoming Mini's Burly Uncle into the Family



The idea of a maxi-Mini runs counter to everything we love about the brand. But despite our misgivings, our own Steven J. Ewing came away suitably impressed with the Mini Countryman when he drove it this time last year. How much did he like it? He insisted we add one to the Autoblog Long-Term Garage.

And here it is.

Coated in two-tone True Blue Metallic (as voted by our readers) and tricked out in Cooper S ALL4 guise, our long-term tester is as maxed out as they come – with the exception of an automatic transmission, natch. We think we ticked all the right boxes, including Sport and Premium packs, Xenons, Sport suspension and Mini Connected with Navigation, to get the full Countryman experience. And to kick things off, I headed north for a two-day, 500-mile trek up the coast to put our newest family member through its paces.

The good news: Mini's made one of the most entertaining cute 'utes in the world. The bad: You've got to shell out a heap of coin to enjoy it.
So let's get this out of the way now: Our 2011 Mini Countryman S ALL4 tester rings up at a cool $38,000. That includes all of the aforementioned kit and what's listed in the spec page on the Countryman Long-Term hub page. Yes, that's a metric ton of cash for a small crossover and we wouldn't expect anything less from an automaker run by ze Germans. But then again, we're an odd use case.

2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 side view2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 front view2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 rear view

Our long-termer is going to spend time in California, Arizona, Michigan and Ohio. Do I really need the $750 cold-weather package (heated mirrors, washer jets and front seats)? Not in Northern California. But EIC Neff and our Detroit team will. Is the Mini Connected system ($1,750) a necessity? No. But we also want to test out the latest and greatest apps and infotainment functionality, along with a guided tour of the system from BMW's R&D tech center in Mountain View, California.

So it's a pricy compact CUV, but premium build quality and a commensurate amount of luxury doesn't come cheap. Nor should it.

Mini has proven that consumers are willing to pay a premium for a compact car with high-end amenities and solid driving dynamics. The only problem – aside from the barrier to entry – was that a diminutive hatch and a long wheelbase variant left a massive chunk of would-be buyers out in the cold. The Countryman stands to rectify that. And our first test would be trying to get an 85-pound LabPointerPitDaneSpaniel comfortable for the 165-mile drive north.

2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 headlight2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 wheel2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 roof spoiler2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 exhaust tip

The chances of wedging said puppy into the 16.5 cubic-feet cargo area were... nonexistent, particularly with the subtle slope of the hatch. Thankfully, the two rear buckets fold flat, allowing the trunk to expand into a 41.3 cubic-foot dog house. It'll work, but it's also the Countryman's first Achilles heel. For a family of four to take a vacation, little Jonny and Jane will be carrying luggage on their laps. So it's best to think of the Countryman as a maximized daily driver and occasional weekender for a couple and their only child.

With all our assorted sundries packed up and the navigation system set for the Mendocino Coast, we headed out for the first of two long stints on the freeway and quickly found ourselves stuck in late afternoon traffic west of Berkeley. The combination of stop-and-go, all-wheel drive and a fresh clutch gave me a chance to get intimate with the six-speed manual gearbox. The clutch uptake is on the light side, with the friction point further up the pedal travel than I'd prefer. It's defined, but a little squishy, and the occasional shutter through the ALL4 system makes frequent starts and stops a jolty affair. The six-speed transmission, however, is just as good as any other Mini, with short, chunky throws and a softball-sized shift knob that plunks reassuringly into your palm.

2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 interior2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 front seats2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 rear seats2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 rear cargo area

With traffic finally clearing up once we reached 101, it was time to find out if the additional 400 pounds of weight saddled into the Countryman would be too much for the miserly four-cylinder to handle. Naturally, we opted for the S, which tacks on a turbocharger to the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, boosting horsepower to 181 ponies and torque to 177 pound-feet. A deliberate mash of the gas delivers an additional helping of compressed air into the engine, increasingly torque to 192 lb-ft from 1,700 rpm for a few moments.

As this is the same engine fitted to every S-equipped Mini, we weren't expecting horizon-come-hither acceleration, and the Countryman responded in kind. Forward thrust comes on predictably and smoothly, with just a hint of lag below 1,300 rpm as the turbo catches its breath. After that, it's a long, continuous wave of torque until the twist begins to bleed off around 5,000 rpm, necessitating a quick shift to keep things on boil. It's not slow, but the Countryman is suitably quick for something topping out over 3,000 pounds, particularly when you consider we averaged a 25.8 mpg – on the low side of the EPA-estimated 25 city/31 highway – during our two-day stint.

2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 engine

While the combination of the Sport suspension and 18-inch runflats (Pirelli Cinturator P7s sized 225/45 R18 at all sides) have the potential on paper for a rough ride, it's anything but on the freeway. At a comfortable cruising speed of 75-80 miles per hour, ruts and divots in the road are felt, but not endured, and there's an overall sense of sure-footedness that you just don't find in most barely burly crossovers.

The major demerit, though, comes in the form of darty steering that's in need of perpetual corrections. On-center feel is slightly dulled at speed (the electro-hydraulic rack is partially to thank/blame), but the moment you dial in the slightest hint of lock, you're off into the next lane. And it's predictably worse in the tightened Sport mode. But while it's a chore to keep up with on the open road, the Countryman's steering found its home when we broke off onto Highway 128 and headed towards the coast.

The sun was setting, the dog was curled up in back and the wife was rustled from her nap when I jumped off the throttle and a quiet cackling emanated from the duo of chromed muffler tips. "What was that?" she asked. I went off on a lengthy explanation about unburnt fuel igniting in the exhaust. "Can you make it stop?" Yes, but I wouldn't. It's part of the throttle remapping in Sport mode, but if I'm honest, it's a novelty that wears thin after a few miles.

2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 rear 3/4 view

What doesn't annoy is the Countryman's remarkable body control. That touchy steering is part of a greater whole, which, combined with the stiffened suspension, tweaked throttle and better-than-expected rubber make for an entertaining, encouraging drive. Yes, it rolls, and yes, it's not millimeter precise, but tearing along one of California's great backroads, you'd be forgiven for thinking you're behind the wheel of a top-heavy sports sedan, not a high-riding hatch.

But just as I leaned into the throttle and lined up for the next set of bends, the wife chimed in with a buzzkilling suck of air through her pursed lips. I would have to wring the Countryman out later. And on my own.

That's fine. I've got another three months and an endless assortment of roads to enjoy while the Countryman is in my possession. There's plenty to look forward to, but with one trip down and the three of us no more worse for the wear, our newest family member is already impressing. Next up, a thorough review of the Mini Connected system and a look at the interior. Oh, and proper flogging sans the fam.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 118 Comments
      Avinash Machado
      • 3 Years Ago
      Seems overpriced. Not sure that it will sell well in a country where small is often equated with low prices.
        Zoom
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Avinash Machado
        Mini has been selling hundreds of thousands of small cars at high prices for years. They seem to know what they're doing.
      DCI Gene Shunt
      • 3 Years Ago
      As someone who owned a MINI for 8 years, I'm a bit disappointed. The interior has 20 different things going on, and seems inconsistent. The $38K tag? I remember the base price for my '03 MINI being $17K and being a bit more fun. This just seems to have numerous BMW toys thrown in it, going away from the subcompact fun car niche it created.
      Tahoe Ed
      • 3 Years Ago
      I just put my first 600mi on my CM S ALL4 with Auto. It is not optioned out and ran me less than $31k. I have owned 4 Subarus, 2 Impreza Outback Sports and 2 STI's (both with Cobb AP tuning). My last two Subaru's were a disappointment and had their own problems with reliability. So far I am getting 28mpg through the first two tanks. For a tight car with auto, I am not disappointed. Last week I got the chance to make the run from Reno to Lake Tahoe over Mt. Rose. 5000 ft elevation gain on a twisty two lane road, 4500rpm limited. I have driven this road many times in an STI and the Mini handled it without drama. Fast, Smooth and Effortless. I have always wanted a Mini and now with the ALL4 I can without having to consider chains in the winter.
      NightFlight
      • 3 Years Ago
      $38,000 That's all I needed to read. That is absolutely absurd given the vehicles size, interior materials and four place seating. I've driven one, and I don't think there is anything standout about the Countryman other than its tossability that comes with its smaller size and suspension tuning. At least BMW was smart enough to offer a true 5 passenger option. To me, this is just another overpriced Mini with questionable practicality and reliability.
        NightFlight
        • 3 Years Ago
        @NightFlight
        $38,000 and it doesn't even have full leather seating surfaces? I just realized this after looking through the pictures. That is inexcuseable, as is its interior packaging. XC60/GLK/Q5/LR2/RDX/X3/etc >>>> Countryman This thing is a ripoff.
          NightFlight
          • 3 Years Ago
          @NightFlight
          @ Justin 1. Your price doesn't include AWD, and what good is a 2WD raised wagon? 2. $38,000 will get you a FULLY LOADED Acura RDX with AWD. It includes leather, has more horsepower, a more advanced AWD system, it is bulletproof reliable, has great resale value, and outperforms this overpriced BMW. 3. Let's say you wanted to get leather, in the Countryman, that'd be $40,000 on the dot. You can actually get a XC60 with 300HP, or the R-Design with 325HP for about $1,000 more. @ Turbo 4 1. No, they aren't direct competitors but they make more sense. 2. The BASE Countryman has a 120HP four cylinder, all for $28,000. Did you read that??? $28,000 for 2WD and a 120 horsepower engine. Have fun driving that. 3. My arguement is weak? Read the above again. Do I really have to point out anymore how overpriced this thing is???? You people are blind and biased fanboys.
          Turbo 4
          • 3 Years Ago
          @NightFlight
          None of those cars are even competition for the Countryman. I don't even consider it a CUV especially without any real cargo space. This car has all the bells and whistles minus the $2000 leather option. The countryman starts in the high 20s so your argument is weak.
          Justin Campanale
          • 3 Years Ago
          @NightFlight
          Typo.... I meant "once you option" insted of "once you price"
      Justin Campanale
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't know why so many people are hating on this thing, how could you not love it? It looks much better than most of the bloated CUV's out there, the driving dynamics and handling are exceptional, and the price is justified once you consider that it has very good interior materials.
        NightFlight
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        I understand your need to defend it, because you own one, but it isn't a great vehicle. PERIOD. The pricing isn't justified, or you would see a LOT more of them on the road like the regular Mini. The interior materials are nothing to write home about either.
          Quen
          • 3 Years Ago
          @NightFlight
          I seem to recall that the Countryman is already the 2nd best selling Mini based on last month's sales, and catching up to the hardtop fast.. You don't see a lot of them because it just came out.
        Synthono
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        You... you're looking at the same thing I'm looking at right? Because you just described it as looking better than "bloated CUVs" but I'm looking at a picture of the most bloated CUV you can buy. It looks like it's got some sort of disease.
          NightFlight
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Synthono
          It is rather bulbous and bloated looking...
      Carnut0913
      • 3 Years Ago
      $38K for a Juke competitor. Just not seeing it. I know its not sharing the same market but just for grins and giggles- A grand Cherokee 4x4 with Leather heated seats is cheaper. Can anyone look me in the eye, keep a straight face, and say that the Mini is worth it?
        Justin Campanale
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Carnut0913
        It is worth it. Comparing a GC to this is like comparing apples to oranges. This Countryman is a PRENIUM model. It offers better driving dynamics than the Jeep. In fact, I'd consider it an alternative to the A3/C30.
          Carnut0913
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          I readily, and upfront, admitted that the two are not sharing the same market BUT both offer 4 seats, 4 doors, and either tout or deliver off-road capability. No way can the Mini be considered Premium over the GC. If you want the comparison, either the A3 Quattro trumps this for premium content or the Juke trumps it for price. Mini wins for those who play at being snobs without sense.
        Gorgenapper
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Carnut0913
        *looks you in the eyes* The Mini is completely worth it. How can you be dissatisfied with its overwhelming 181hp, and miserly class leading 25mpg highway, along with a sardine-can interior, questionable reliability...all at an affordable $38k? You don't have $38k just lying around in a shoebox somewhere? What are you, a smart consumer or something?
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Gorgenapper
          [blocked]
          Gorgenapper
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Gorgenapper
          Sarcasm, look it up sometime.
        flammablewater
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Carnut0913
        An A3 Quatro with similar options costs exactly the same money. That's what this is competing against.
          Carnut0913
          • 3 Years Ago
          @flammablewater
          feature/ name- more comparable to Juke than Audi. audi compares with BMW or MB, not Mini
      Robert D.
      • 3 Years Ago
      A ridiculous amount of money for a ridiculous vehicle.
      grimgrinning999
      • 3 Years Ago
      I just can't get past that horrible interior design. Does it appeal to anybody older than a teenager?
        Synthono
        • 3 Years Ago
        @grimgrinning999
        That requires getting past the horrible exterior design, which is why I can't abide the Countryman.
        lemonite
        • 3 Years Ago
        @grimgrinning999
        Everything its... round... and bulging... what is going on!
      midlvl
      • 3 Years Ago
      Gotta love autoblog comments.. If you don't like it, don't buy it.
      SteveM
      • 3 Years Ago
      We currently own a Clubman that we paid too much for, and I traded in my 05 Cooper on the Juke. Unfortunately Mini is going too far out on the pricing for this one. The price finally turned us away from Mini. Someone in the comments compared it to a Juke, and appropriately so. There are Euro sites that have compared them, and Motor Trend did as well. All favorably compare the Juke. Is the Mini better in some ways, sure. Is the Juke better in some ways... you bet. So we bought a Juke... similar performance and it left about 13k to 14k in my pocket. Can I live with a fun albeit ugly car for that kind of savings... you bet. Simply put, the Countryman is not a unique proposition... and the price of admission isn't justifiable from a practical sense. If it moves you enough... go get it! But there are options that are more fun, more practical, and less expensive. Indeed, at this price there is quite a selection out there.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SteveM
        [blocked]
        VRSix01
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SteveM
        The Juke is probably a fine machine technically. I've never driven one, but the specs look great on paper. But the design it just way too out there.
      brgtlm
      • 3 Years Ago
      Didn't like the concept and don't like the execution. $38K! BMW definitely milking the trendy crowd. A lot of people will get the automatic and the weight just overwhelms the engine and, from what I've read, the handling leaves a lot to be desired.
        Justin Campanale
        • 3 Years Ago
        @brgtlm
        Name one small SUV that has better driving dynamics.
          Justin Campanale
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          keyword:SUV
          NightFlight
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          The Juke. Done.
          Quen
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          @Fried_Rice No manual transmission on US-market CX-7's, so "intensely more fun" goes right out the window. Also, from what I read the automatic is a very poor match for the turbo engine.
      davidbenzino09
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's probably worth pointing out a little more clearly that you put $10,000 worth of options into the price tag of this thing.
        Robert D.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @davidbenzino09
        As long as they also point out those "options" come standard on many vehicles $10,000 cheaper than this one.
        futuramautoblog
        • 3 Years Ago
        @davidbenzino09
        @NightFlight So what car do you own? 1985 E30 BMW? 1992 Honda Civic Si?
          NightFlight
          • 3 Years Ago
          @futuramautoblog
          Anonymity is the most beautiful part of the Internet. I own three vehicles, two are newer than 2006 and both are considerably nicer than the vehicle in question. The one older vehicle I have is a nearly dedicated track vehicle that only comes out on weekends or for track time.
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