The current Mini Countryman is getting ready to shuffle off into the great carpark in the sky, but there’s some life in it yet.
Mini has rolled out a cavalcade of new trim levels to keep the Countryman fresh in the last few years, one of which is the Mini Yours on test here.
With unique colours, wheels, badging, and interior trim bits, it’s designed to elevate what was already a relatively luxurious small-to-mid-sized SUV into something more special again.
Special or otherwise, it’s competing with a tough crowd of rivals in 2023. Along with the BMW X1 with which it shares showroom space, the Countryman goes head-to-head with strong offerings from Audi, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz.
Does it still have what it takes to make an impact in 2023?
The Mini Countryman Cooper S Mini Yours ($63,950 plus on-roads) sits between vehicles like the Audi Q2 40 TFSI ($53,300) and Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce ($56,400), and the BMW X1 xDrive20i ($70,400) or top-end Mercedes-Benz GLA250 ($77,300) based on price.
It’s knocking on the door of the bottom end of the more powerful all-wheel drive Countryman plug-in hybrid – or Cooper SE in Mini parlance – in the range, and is $4000 more expensive than the equivalent Cooper with its less powerful engine.
2023 Mini Countryman pricing:
- Mini Cooper Countryman
- Classic: $48,850
- Classic Plus: $52,425
- Mini Yours: $59,025
- Mini Cooper S Countryman
- Classic: $57,650
- Mini Yours: $63,950
- Untamed: $64,300
- JCW Sport: $64,450
- Mini Cooper SE Countryman (Hybrid)
- Classic: $64,000
- Mini Yours: $72,375
- Untamed: $72,725
- Mini John Cooper Works Countryman
- Essential: $68,625
- Classic: $72,375
- Mini Yours: $77,175
All prices exclude on-road costs.
Classic Mini design cues are still alive and well here.
The touchscreen infotainment system is still surrounded by a colourful LED ring, the driver display is still a pod on the steering column, and there’s still plenty of chrome toggles in place of regular buttons. It’s aged surprisingly well at a glance, although diving deeper reveals some flaws.
For starters, the infotainment and driver display technology has been well and truly usurped in the BMW world. The central screen is running on iDrive bones that are two or three generations old, and the ‘digital instrument cluster’ is actually just a small screen showing your digital speed above a regular trip computer.
On the plus side, the screen is still quick to respond, and the standard wireless Apple CarPlay allows you the ability to bypass the native interface. It’s a shame the wireless phone charger in the central armrest is barely big enough to take a regular iPhone 14, let alone a Pro Max.
We know new Mini models are imminent, and they’ll no doubt bring heavily updated technology.
Beyond our technology complaints, the fundamentals in the Countryman Cooper S are solid. The driving position is excellent for tall drivers, the chubby steering wheel is trimmed in what feels like quality leather, and the view out the upright windscreen is classic Mini.
There are cupholders at the base of the dashboard, along with an open storage space for wallets and keys, while the space below the central armrest will house a chunky Frank Green water bottle.
It’s not the most practical small-ish SUV out there, but there’s still enough space to house all the crap that comes with daily life.
The materials are all quite interesting in the Mini Yours, too. The seats are trimmed in leather, the doors feature Alcantara inserts, and the dashboard is finished with carbon-effect plastic.
Rear seat space is a bit surprising, given the Mini name. The upright windows and flat roof make for solid headroom, even in our sunroof-equipped tester, and legroom behind tall drivers is better than what was on offer in the previous-generation BMW X1 with which the Countryman shares its underpinnings.
The are air vents back there, along with USB-C ports, and the two ISOFIX points and three top tether points allow for child seats.
Behind the second row, the Countryman offers 450L of cargo volume with all five seats in place. Fold them down, and that expands to 1390L.
Power in the Mini Countryman Cooper S comes from a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine making 141kW and 280Nm, mated with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
It’s front-wheel drive, although you can get all-wheel drive in the Countryman if you opt for the more expensive John Cooper Works and plug-in hybrid options.
Claimed fuel economy is 6.7 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, and the Countryman drinks 95 RON premium unleaded. It has a 51L fuel tank.
Mini has updated lots of the little details throughout the Countryman’s life, but it hasn’t meddled too much with how it drives.
It’s still a slightly keener, sportier take on the average small SUV formula with plenty to offer keen drivers.
The turbocharged petrol engine packs a decent punch low in the rev range, and has enough mid-range torque to squeeze you back in your seat when you really put your foot down. There’s a bit of exhaust bark in the cabin to back it up, although the JCW offers more of everything for drivers who commute like their pants are on fire.
BMW has mostly moved away from dual-clutch transmissions, but the Countryman still features a seven-speed DCT. It’s pretty smooth off the mark once you’re dialled into what’s required, although it’s not as smooth as a conventional torque converter – but it’s nice and snappy on the move.
In Eco or Normal mode it’s very keen to change into a taller gear, which is good for fuel economy but does undermine the sporty feeling Mini is chasing. Put your foot down and it needs to kick down one, two, sometimes three gears to send the four-pot engine back into the meat of its torque band.
You’re able to take charge with the plastic paddles behind the steering wheel, or using the stubby gear selector.
There’s a distinct difference between the steering in Mini and BMW cars, even though they’re built on the same bones. The steering in the Mini Countryman feels quite direct, sending the nose darting into corners with smaller movements off centre.
It makes the Countryman fun to punt around the city in, although it also means you’re busier on the highway. You’re less insulated from what the wheels are doing on cambered roads than in some rivals; the steering wheel pulls a bit from side-to-side as the nose follows the angle of the road.
Although it comes with adaptive cruise control capable of maintaining a gap to the car in front, the Countryman doesn’t have active lane-centring to go with it.
It’s able to correct the steering if you drift towards the white lines, but it won’t more actively steer to keep you centred in its lane like the new BMW X1, or any number of cheaper alternatives. That won’t worry drivers who prefer being in charge anyway, but it does make the Countryman less relaxing than its rivals on long drives.
It’s also worth noting the noise in the cabin on Australian highways from the tyres is more noticeable than it really should be in a premium SUV. You’ll need to crank the stereo up a few notches to drown out the drone.
The noise is a shame, because the ride in the Countryman is decent at highway speeds. Ignore the Mini name, it feels tied down like you’d expect of a bigger vehicle at the legal limit.
Cooper Countryman highlights:
- 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Satellite navigation
- DAB+ digital radio
- Wireless Apple CarPlay
- Wireless phone charging
- Adaptive cruise control with Stop and Go
- 5.5-inch digital instrument cluster
- 6-speaker sound system
- LED headlights, fog lights and tail lights
- Proximity entry with push-button start
- Power tailgate
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Leatherette front sports seats
- Reversing camera
- Front, rear parking sensors
- Semi-autonomous parking assist
- Automatic headlights
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Dual-zone climate control
Cooper S Countryman adds:
- Piano Black exterior trim
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- Leather sports seats
- Selectable drive modes
- Heated front seats
The Countryman has a five-star ANCAP safety rating based on 2017 Euro NCAP tests.
That rating was based on an adult occupant protection score of 90 per cent, a child occupant protection score of 80 per cent, a vulnerable road user protection score of 64 per cent and a safety assist score of 51 per cent.
All 2023 Mini Countryman models come standard with city-speed autonomous emergency braking with forward-collision warning, as well as traffic sign recognition, anti-lock brakes and six airbags.
The Mini range is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Maintenance in the Countryman is required every 12 months or 20,000 kilometres, and Mini offers two servicing plans.
The first costs $1495 and covers oil, fluid, filter and spark plug changes, the Plus package is priced at $4031 and covers brake pad, brake disc, wiper blade, and clutch disc and plate replacements.
The Countryman still has something to offer in 2023, provided you’re willing to look past a few of its age-based flaws.
It’s still fun to drive if you’re willing to miss out on some of the latest driver assists, and it has a surprisingly spacious cabin provided you’re not expecting the latest technology.
It also still looks like nothing else out there, and features more potential for personalisation than its rivals. Our Mini Yours tester wasn’t cheap, but it did stand out.
That’s always been the story with the Mini Countryman. It’s not a class leader in any particular area, but it does still have a certain charm.
If you do want a Countryman, the Cooper S represents the right balance of value and performance.
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