The interior layout, fit and finish
Mini’s trademark quirky dials and toggle switches remain, and each feels solidly put together, working with a satisfying click. In terms of visual appeal and perceived quality, it’s way above the Cupra Ateca’s interior, with smart details such as contrast stitching on its leather steering wheel. There are still scratchy plastics lower down the centre console, but coloured gloss-plastic trim details help distract attention on the most part.
Like all versions, the JCW gets an infotainment system with a 6.5in screen and sat-nav, and you can upgrade to an 8.8in touchscreen with a sharper display as part of the Navigation Plus Pack. Both use a rotary dial between the seats that makes controlling the infotainment system easy, and the optional head-up display can be used to select radio stations and view sat-nav prompts without taking your eye from the road ahead.
The sports seats are quite firm and can become tiresome on longer journeys, but they do at least offer extra support when cornering. They are also heated and come with lumbar support, although you can’t add electric adjustability.
The Comfort Plus Pack is also included as standard, and features a rear-view camera and parking assistant to help with visibility when reversing. The Countryman doesn’t have the raised-up stance of the T-Roc R or Cupra Ateca, and feels much like a regular hatch, so you don’t get the same commanding view over the road as those rivals.
Forward visibility is pretty good, though, with a tall screen and those bulbous headlights making it easy to judge the edges of the car. But thick front, side and rear pillars can make for tricky visibility over your shoulder and when approaching junctions, and the small rear windows make it rather dark in the back seats.