2011 Mini Countryman: January 2012
Mile after mile, the Mini dutifully carried on while I watched large SUVs and a host of mid-size sedans slide off into the ditches on either side of I-94. I've lived in southeast Michigan my entire life, and I know how to drive in the slushy, slick stuff, but there's nothing quite like the combination of all-wheel drive and proper winter tires for times like this – it not only helps with driver confidence, but makes the whole process of safely navigating through a snowstorm much less fatiguing. Mini's All4 all-wheel-drive system made sure power was being sent to exactly which wheels needed it most, and our car's Bridgestone Blizzak WS-70 winter tires provided by the folks at Tire Rack kept the rollers from slipping during acceleration or skidding during braking.
After using the Mini to schlep many an Autoblog staff member to and from various Detroit Auto Show happenings, I handed the Countryman off to executive editor Chris Paukert, who turned it back over praising the All4 system and snow tires' handling on split-mu surfaces – even with the driver's side tires on wet asphalt and the passenger-side wheels trudging through ice and slush, the Mini remained confident and steady despite times when traction coefficients differed at every corner.
The Countryman now resides in Cleveland, Ohio, where it will be under Editor-in-Chief John Neff's care for the next month. We haven't had any snow to speak of since sending the Mini to Ohio, but I'm sure if Neff complains enough, Mother Nature will reward him with a big ol' lake-effect dumping to the Lake Erie coast so he can see just how good our All4/Blizzak combo is.
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