Our long-term 2011 Mini Countryman is nearing the end of its year-long stay in the Autoblog Garage, the past six months of which have been spent bouncing back and forth between the various Detroit-based team members (and Cleveland – we mustn't forget about Herr Neff). And while we've all had plenty of time behind the wheel of the biggest Mini, this is one car that always seems to be in high demand, whether its for long road trips or just because we all really like driving the thing.

With the odometer nearing the 20,000-mile mark, I must commend the Countryman for how well it's held up over the past ten months of use. I recently spent a few days in it for a quick jaunt across Michigan, and aside from surface detritus like dust on the IP and an occasional french fry found under the driver's seat, the interior doesn't seem to really show any signs of aging – something we couldn't say about our recently departed long-term Hyundai Equus after only six months of service. There are no rattles or creaks to speak of and the various fabrics and plastics used throughout the cabin look as good as they did on Day One. Then again, we expect nothing less considering our Mini's $38,000 price tag.

The one constant complaint from literally every single person who drives the car is how harsh it rides on the road.

The one constant complaint from literally every single person who drives the car is how harsh it rides on the road, Detroit's horrific street surfaces aside. It's not entirely the fault of our car's optional sport suspension, though – we think it all comes down to its awful run-flat summer tires. The whole car will jolt as you coast over even the most minute of pavement irregularities, and it gets to be very, very annoying. I truly miss the Bridgestone Blizzak WS-70 winter tires that were fitted to the car during the cold months. Yes, the 18-inch Pirelli Cinturato P7 run-flats offer better grip on dry roads, especially when driving the Countryman enthusiastically, but the rubber compound of those Blizzaks was so much more pleasant for everyday driving scenarios.

Brake dust also continues to be an issue, and it makes me wish we had opted for one of the darker alloy wheel choices when ordering our car. (I suppose I'm the one to blame, since you readers picked this Mini in our initial poll, and the car you see here is the one I had configured.) But still, even after just a week of driving, the front wheels become coated in black soot, and even a run through a car wash won't completely do the trick in removing the grossness.

But these are simple fixes. Get yourself a proper set of summer (or all-season) tires and the ride quality will surely improve. And if you build a Countryman with one of the dark alloy wheel options, there are plenty of lighter body colors that look really sharp with contrasting black accents. Even so, these quibbles with our long-term tester won't steer me away from spending more time with the Mini before it leaves, and judging from all the requests from other staffers eager to get another stint behind the wheel, they haven't upset too many of my fellow editors, either.

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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 28 Comments
      docfink
      • 2 Years Ago
      I completely agree. I've had a similar car since 2/2011, and changed to regular all-seasons after a few months of kidney pounding. I'd say the ride has improved at least 50% subjectively, and I'm no longer embarrassed to carry passengers. It's a fun car for sure, but could use more power--then again, what regular car couldn't? I'm interested to see the Works version, and will inquire about upgrading my engine to its specs. Don't let haters hate; this car is unique and fun. It's enjoyable to drive (now that it has real tires) and its control layout makes it personal and enjoyably quirky. Its electronics and sound system are impressive. Not cheap, but it's certainly a winner.
        Justin Campanale
        • 2 Years Ago
        @docfink
        Just curious, do you own a Countryman base or a Countryman S/All4. When I was shoppoing for my Country man, I test drove the base model with the 1.6 NA and I was disappointed with the drive-acceleration was sluggish at best. I hopped in an All4. With the 1.6 turbo, it was one peppy vehicle. If you have the base model, I completely understand when you said the car needs more power. If ou have the All4/S, not so much. In a perfect world thr car would have GTI levels of power....but oh well, it's still not bad.
        Justin Campanale
        • 2 Years Ago
        @docfink
        Just curious, do you own a Countryman base or a Countryman S/All4. When I was shoppoing for my Country man, I test drove the base model with the 1.6 NA and I was disappointed with the drive-acceleration was sluggish at best. I hopped in an All4. With the 1.6 turbo, it was one peppy vehicle. If you have the base model, I completely understand when you said the car needs more power. If ou have the All4/S, not so much. In a perfect world thr car would have GTI levels of power....but oh well, it's still not bad.
      ACSRHS
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yeah, I've noticed many BMW owned products have an issue with dirty rims due to braking, and I could never figure out why...
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ACSRHS
        [blocked]
      Bruce Lee
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is what happens when everyone has a bizarre obsession with huge wheels and low profile tires. A sports suspension plus 18 inch rims plus run flats is a guaranteed ride nightmare. I refuse to buy anything with run flats or rims over 17 inches and it's driving me crazy that manufacturers insist on putting 19 or 20 inch rims on their higher end trim now, no I don't care to "upgrade" to a spine destroying ride.
      Mark_H
      • 2 Years Ago
      re "Get yourself a proper set of summer (or all-season) tires and the ride quality will surely improve." Maybe. Maybe not. I replaced the run-flats on my 128 with all-season Michelin's and the ride went from awful to just bad. Still harsh. You should actually try this and give us feedback before predicting an outcome.
        msspamrefuge
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mark_H
        "Maybe. Maybe not. I replaced the run-flats on my 128 with all-season Michelin's and the ride went from awful to just bad. Still harsh." While the logic isn't wholly wrong, merely swapping tire types definitely isn't a sure fix. Some tire research is in order, and I don't mean just driving into the nearest Discount Tire and asking the attendant what he/she thinks.
      Lachmund
      • 2 Years Ago
      this car on the road is FUGLY
        Mark
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Lachmund
        To me, it is the best looking Mini. That isn't saying a whole lot though.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Mark
          [blocked]
      thedriveatfive
      • 2 Years Ago
      Mini in this case is a misnomer.
        untitledfolder
        • 2 Years Ago
        @thedriveatfive
        How so? It's still the smallest production CUV/SUV? The classic Mini made lots of different variants of the same idea.
          holysmoke.s
          • 2 Years Ago
          @untitledfolder
          I have a hard time seeing this as an SUV. It's no more an SUV than the Suzuki SX4 AWD. Is this MINI smaller than the Suzuki? Is it smaller than the Juke?
          untitledfolder
          • 2 Years Ago
          @untitledfolder
          Yes it is smaller than the Juke. No one buys the SX4 so I'm not sure. AFAIK it was the smallest CUV (ok maybe not SUV)...
      holysmoke.s
      • 2 Years Ago
      Good friend last night at 11 pm had a flat in her 3-series. Tried to make it home but the tire just couldn't. 11pm on the side of the road waiting on a tow truck is not worth a few cubic feet of trunk space.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @holysmoke.s
        [blocked]
        Brian Calhoun
        • 2 Years Ago
        @holysmoke.s
        BMWs typically have Bridgestone Potenza RE050 runflats. Unless it was an older model the tire should have gotten the car off the road to some kinda parking lot. I had a flat in my Z4 once the tire pressure warning light went on I pulled over looked at the tire drove home called BMW in the morning.
      Justin Campanale
      • 2 Years Ago
      I own a Countryman All4 with a 6spd manual and I understand the comments about harshness. I had the same tires the reviewer did- Pirelli cinuarato P7 at first. Due to the harshness of the ride i switched to some all season tires and the ride quality has improved.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        [blocked]
          holysmoke.s
          • 2 Years Ago
          agreed. If they don't have a factory option for a spare and good tires, this would be a NO buy option.
          action3500
          • 2 Years Ago
          Fun fact, when I switched to regular tires from run flats on 3 series (did it the moment I picked it from the dealer), I actually saved close to 4lb PER tire. That's over 15lb of unsprung weight savings just by switching to proper tires. Needless to say ride improved drastically and I have sport suspension too. As for "stuck in the middle of nowhere scenario". I have portable pump and "hole plug" kit, yes it will take me and hour or so to try and plug the whole, but I won't get stuck for hours. Usually flat is caused by puncher that leaks slowly though, so you can just pump and go. Still not an excuse for BMW to keep using RFT.
      brgtlm
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think this car is an abomination, but people seem to buy them. My friend as a 2006 Cooper and he replaced the runflats with Bridgestone RE760s. Much better than the awful RFTs. My Mazda doesn't have a spare and I don't think it is that big of a deal if you're traveling in urban areas or some place that AAA can rescue you.
      Don G
      • 2 Years Ago
      Theres a product called wheel wax. I used it on my E90 3 series. It had a coating of dust on the wheels 3 miles after cleaning. It didnt come off after a car wash. The wheel wax did the trick. Dust rinsed right off. Didnt get as bad between washes either.
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