Literally two days after my last update about our long-term Mini Countryman, I found myself trudging through a snowstorm at 30 miles per hour on Interstate 94 along Michigan's west coast. I guess Mother Nature had heard my cries about not being able to test our Mini in the snow, and decided to reward me with super slippery roads and poor visibility for two and a half hours straight. Lovely.

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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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 9 Comments
      Avinash Machado
      • 2 Years Ago
      What a short update.
      Sealy
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm very glad you have the All-4 and winter tire set up to rely on. The CM has proven a boon to aftermarket tire providers. Here, we're having a mild winter and I've got the No-4 and standard tire set up and am keeping my fingers crossed. It seems like corporate irresponsibility to sell a SUVette without a decent tire option. BMW's slavish worshiping of run-flat performance tires is a diservice to its customers. When I paid $38K for a Countryman, I didn't expect panic when the temp dips to be a part of the deal.
        Dayv
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Sealy
        The configurator offers all-season tires as a $0 option. I'm surprised they aren't the default.
          Sealy
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dayv
          Only on the smaller wheels. Nothing for the 18's.
      throwback
      • 2 Years Ago
      I am a big fan of Blizzaks, i've used them for years.
      Tiberius1701
      • 2 Years Ago
      If we get dumped on Neff, I'm coming after you.. ;-)
      Lachmund
      • 2 Years Ago
      i like most cars but I just saw one yesterday and I HATE THAT CAR. ugly blob
      Brand X
      • 2 Years Ago
      So what I took away from this is that you need to purchase aftermarket Blizzak's, which are pretty expensive, in order to drive safely in the Countryman on snowy roads to prevent slipping around. It would have been nice to get a sense of what the manufacturers factory issued tires are like, but we'll never know unless we buy the Mini. Those other SUV's have been slipping off the roads and into ditches for quite a while now, but if you look at the Mini Countryman and a typical SUV, they don't look alike, nor are they the same type car. Nissan created the Sport Cross, the Nissan Juke and it's good to see more competition. The Juke however is a sales monster in Europe and in the USA people are buying them up fast, and they have great in the snow without Blizzaks.
      Erick
      • 2 Years Ago
      It's irritating to see people's ignorance about tires... here's the bottom line, It's SAFER to drive in snow with *gasp* SNOWtires! Depending on weight distribution, rear wheel drive < front wheel drive < all wheel drive. Period. Yes, it's possible to get around in a rear wheel drive vehicle with all season tires, you're just not as safe. A subaru might be great in the snow with all season tires, but hey, guess what? It's BETTER with snow tires! Pretty shocking huh?