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
Our long-term 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 has served out its time in Northern California and is set to head down to LA later this month. But before it departs the sunny side of the bay, I've got some closing thoughts after a few months behind the wheel.

To begin with, Mini has succeeded in creating a livable, entertaining crossover that's nothing if not unique and hasn't diluted the brand's core values... much. Particularly in S and All4 guise, the Countryman has just the right amount of sport to keep us interested and enough functionality to make it an everyday vehicle. Sure, I'd like a little more cargo space, but there's ample room for a family of three – maybe four – to make a weekend trip up to the hills or out to the coast and enjoy the spaces in between.

As we showed you yesterday, one of the Countryman's party pieces is the Mini Connected system, which blends navigation, infotainment and a range of audio and connectivity solutions into a fairly easy use, seamless experience. But just like everything else from Mini, it comes at a price and our long-term's $38,000 sticker is a tough pill to swallow. Yes, this is a premium product from a premium automaker in a segment it helped to define, but for that kind of coin there are dozens of other options with just as much, if not more, functionality and value. But they don't have the style, they don't have the panache and they don't have the character. The Countryman has all those in spades. What it doesn't have, however, is a clutch I'd be willing to live with.



We thought it might've been a fluke with our particular car, but having spoken to a handful of colleagues and owners, the Countryman's clutch seems to be universally loathed, specifically on the all-wheel-drive models. Uptake on the pedal, particularly when the six-speed manual transmission is cold, is ill defined with no discernible friction point that's been the cause of countless stalls when pulling out of the driveway. Reversing seems to highlight the issue, but I've experienced the same problem in first gear more than I care to remember.

We're not sure what the root cause is, but we suspect that adapting the front-wheel-drive system to All4 spec has caused some unforeseen drivetrain issues. The extra load of driving the rear wheels appears to be too much for the engine/transmission combo to handle. Considering this is BMW's first front-wheel-drive system that's been modified to all-wheel-drive, we're sure there were some hurdles to overcome. But being a vehicle engineered by the Germans, we're surprised the issue has become so prominent. I'm looking forward to my So Cal colleagues' impressions to get their take on the matter and possibly take it into Mini to rectify the issue. Or at least lessen it.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 46 Comments
      Anubis
      • 3 Years Ago
      I had a 2007 Mini Cooper S and the car was prone to stalling when the "sport" button was not engaged. The car was also in the shop three times for the cold start death rattle and then I got rid of the car and never looked back.
      Durishin
      • 3 Years Ago
      They should have called in Subaru for a consult on the clutch/driveline issue.
      donnieorama
      • 3 Years Ago
      $38k is a tough pill to swallow? It's like trying to swallow a baseball. It ain't happening. Not for what you get.
      Stephen
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm always intrigued by a car that has or has had a WRC derivative, but mounting evidence (on top of looks and price) suggests this thing is only for the truly mini-obsessed...too bad.
      xmailboxcancerx
      • 3 Years Ago
      The clutch descriptions remind me of my past '03 Vibe GT ... a bizarrely difficult clutch to feel friction through, not to mention incredibly long. Anyone drive either of these vehicles to know what I'm talking about?
      natron3030
      • 3 Years Ago
      Baby, I love you, but you got an interior like a f'ing d*ckhead.
        Justin Campanale
        • 3 Years Ago
        @natron3030
        Please kindly find ONE compact car that has a better interio, qualitywise.
          Chris Fabri
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          Audi A3. Audi A4. Porsche Boxster. Porsche 911. Volvo C30. BMW 1 series. BMW 3 series. Mercedes C-class. VW GTI.
      natron3030
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's a weird world when the vw beetle is more manly than the "countryman".
      Sukairain
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why are they calling this a Mini? There is nothing mini about it.
        nettsu
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Sukairain
        It's the smallest SUV in it's class - hence it's still a "Mini" Mini's core ethos is to be the smallest car in it's respective class - which now seems kind of pointless with the Mini Cooper *shrugs* but that was the intent. It's actually quite smaller than the X1 one which it is based on and I think of any other premium SUV that's the smaller... The idea behind the Countryman also was to provide people who are in the demographic for Mini Coopers who want something bigger to have something bigger. It's the Mini family car... we seriously looked at buying one but unfortunately while we still have children in strollers it's two small (and trying to get a double-wide stroller in was an entertaining exercise).
      owenrec
      • 3 Years Ago
      I love this damn thing, but I have never heard a single good thing about reliability or quality with Mini's. I cant handle a car that doesnt just work. Especially at these prices.
        Brett Fisher
        • 3 Years Ago
        @owenrec
        As the MINI service department manger said to me in a frank conversation about the quality of my 2003 MINI and possibly buying a new one for my wife: "don't buy a turbo, they are a mess".
        Mojosan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @owenrec
        I have a 2009 Cooper S bought new and it's been the most reliable car with the least issues (0) of anything I own or have owned in the past. I have a lot of cars and I drive the Mini hard ( it's my "city car"). It's never had an unscheduled maintenance visit and it still does not have a single squeak or rattle. The comment above about "don't buy a turbo, it's a mess" is absurd.
        Dayv
        • 3 Years Ago
        @owenrec
        Further anecdotal evidence: I know three Mini drivers, and none have had any significant reliability issues.
      JF
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'd rather get a 2012 Impreza hatchback and keep the change. LOTS of change.
        natron3030
        • 3 Years Ago
        @JF
        That golf R looks pretty tasty at a much cheaper price.
          Justin Campanale
          • 3 Years Ago
          @natron3030
          I'm going to have to agree with zamafir and natron over here. For only a little more, you can get a stage 2 Golf R that can murder Evo's and STI's on the track. And this is coming from a Countryman owner. I'm not going to be keeping my Countryman for lon. I'm thinking of replacing it around February or March of next year, and so far, the best choice is the Cuntryman.
          zamafir
          • 3 Years Ago
          @natron3030
          @ Snark - the Golf R will cost $2,000 more than an apple for apples countryman (five door, nav, sunroof). The Golf R weighs less (3188 vs 3252 lbs), has more leg room in front, more leg room in back, same headroom up front, more in the rear, more shoulder room in either place, seats an additional person, has a later max cargo volume, 1.5" larger brakes up front (on a lighter car) and 1.2" larger brakes in the rear (again on a lighter car), a smaller turning circle, 85 more hp, 81 more lb ft of torque and hits sixty a full two seconds faster than the similarly spec'd countryman S. Tons more power, Lighter, a lot quicker, with more room all around where it counts. Not bad for 2k. Kinda makes spending so much on a car with a crappy clutch and which is less compelling in damn near every metric (including drive, i've driven both) kinda confusing. Unless you're a hair dresser.
          futuramautoblog
          • 3 Years Ago
          @natron3030
          @zamafir Obviously you haven't checked all the spec sheet. Other than Front Headroom, Countryman outclasses Golf in most interior dimensions, including rear headroom, front and rear legroom/shoulder room. While I am sure Golf R is defenitely a better car to drive, MINI also has its unique charm Golf can only wish it has. Both are great cars.
          Chris Fabri
          • 3 Years Ago
          @natron3030
          You mean at basically the same price - $36K for the 5 door. I was really excited about the R - mainly cause I'd rather not have FWD - but not at that price. I'm seriously thinking Mustang GT, even though I said I won't buy something with a live axle. About the same price, and 150 more HP.
          ravenosa
          • 3 Years Ago
          @natron3030
          Justin, for less money you could get a stage 3 WRX that will murder any VW in production.
        zamafir
        • 3 Years Ago
        @JF
        meh, the impreza's only LOTS roomier, LOTS more intelligently designed in terms of space, LOTS faster, and LOTS more fun... oh... hm.. good point ;)
      Waltzon
      • 3 Years Ago
      Love the looks and the functionality, but the price is a bitter, bitter pill. For that kind of money, Mini can't justify fundamental problems like the clutch issue described above. I see Mazda, Mini, and Porsche as primary examples of companies who get away with engineering, packaging, or pricing compromises because of their products' dynamic excellence and joir de vivre. Any aspect of the vehicle which impinges on the whole purpose of those vehicles threatens any justification for price premiums and compromised convenience.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
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