New Mini Countryman review

Category: Family SUV

The 2024 Countryman offers a sense of fun plus plenty of space for a family

Mini Countryman JCW front cornering
  • Mini Countryman JCW front cornering
  • Lawrence Cheung road testing Mini Countryman JCW
  • Mini Countryman JCW interior front seats
  • Mini Countryman JCW interior infotainment
  • Mini Countryman JCW front cornering
  • Mini Countryman JCW front cornering
  • Mini Countryman JCW front left driving
  • Mini Countryman JCW rear cornering
  • Mini Countryman JCW front right static
  • Mini Countryman JCW left static
  • Mini Countryman JCW rear left static static
  • Mini Countryman JCW rear static
  • Mini Countryman JCW front detail
  • Mini Countryman JCW alloy wheel detail
  • Mini Countryman JCW roof detail
  • Mini Countryman JCW rear lights
  • Mini Countryman JCW interior dashboard
  • Mini Countryman JCW interior
  • Mini Countryman JCW steering wheel detail
  • Mini Countryman JCW interior detail
  • Mini Countryman JCW front cornering
  • Lawrence Cheung road testing Mini Countryman JCW
  • Mini Countryman JCW interior front seats
  • Mini Countryman JCW interior infotainment
  • Mini Countryman JCW front cornering
  • Mini Countryman JCW front cornering
  • Mini Countryman JCW front left driving
  • Mini Countryman JCW rear cornering
  • Mini Countryman JCW front right static
  • Mini Countryman JCW left static
  • Mini Countryman JCW rear left static static
  • Mini Countryman JCW rear static
  • Mini Countryman JCW front detail
  • Mini Countryman JCW alloy wheel detail
  • Mini Countryman JCW roof detail
  • Mini Countryman JCW rear lights
  • Mini Countryman JCW interior dashboard
  • Mini Countryman JCW interior
  • Mini Countryman JCW steering wheel detail
  • Mini Countryman JCW interior detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

Mini by name – not so mini by nature. The Mini Countryman was already the brand’s largest model, and this latest version is even bigger than its predecessor.

Now in its third generation, the Countryman family SUV still has a boxy shape, but with a longer body than the second-generation car, it promises more interior space for occupants and their luggage. That’s great news if you’ve grown out of the Mini hatchback and want to upgrade to something more practical without sacrificing the cutesy styling.

The Countryman’s large headlights and front grille, and short overhangs are all still instantly recognisable. Meanwhile, the rear tail lights now let you switch from the signature Union Jack light array to two alternative set-ups.

Perhaps the biggest break from tradition – other than the addition of an electric Mini Countryman (which we'll review separately) – is the removal of chrome exterior trim altogether. Buyers can, though, choose between a classic or sporty look, and there are lots of personalisation options.

So, how well does this new Mini Countryman perform against the best family SUVs – including the Audi Q2, Kia Sportage and Seat Ateca? Read on to find out...

Mini Countryman JCW rear cornering

Overview

With a huge dose of style and tidy handling, the Mini Countryman promises to inject a bit of fun into family SUV life. Thankfully, it also covers the basics, with a good combination of space and versatility with a smart interior. The firm-riding John Cooper Works model we’ve tried so far has limited appeal, though. The cheaper and less performance-focused versions are likely to be better choices.

  • Responsive automatic gearbox
  • Smart interior
  • Flexible rear seats
  • Firm ride on JCW version
  • Fiddly infotainment system
  • Countryman C misses out on useful kit
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

So far, we’ve driven the quickest and most powerful petrol Mini Countryman – the John Cooper Works (JCW) version – which has a 296bhp 2.0-litre engine that punches its way from 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds.

While the Countryman JCW never feels quite as fast as the official performance figures suggest, a healthy slug of mid-range muscle will get you up to motorway speeds with little trouble.

The seven-speed automatic gearbox is slick and pleasingly quick to change down a gear with just a small press of the accelerator pedal. You also get paddles mounted on the steering wheel that let you take control of the changes yourself, and they too react quickly. 

The Countryman has a sportier drive mode, called Go Kart, which sharpens up the response of the accelerator pedal while piping an exaggerated engine sound through the speakers, creating a constant background done. Thankfully, you can turn off the sound in a sub-menu.

Without the artificial noise, the engine is naturally hushed, and very little sound is heard from the quad exhaust pipes. There’s a moderate level of road noise on a motorway, while wind noise is localised to the upright windscreen and pillars. 

Below the JCW in the range comes the Countryman S, which has a lower-powered version of the same engine, producing 215bhp and taking 7.1 seconds to sprint from 0-62mph. The JCW and the S both have four-wheel drive as standard.

Mini Countryman image
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The entry-level Countryman C has a 167bhp 1.5-litre unit that drives the front wheels, and officially gets from 0-62mph in a respectable 8.3 seconds. The S and C versions have mild-hybrid assistance to help improve fuel economy.

How about ride comfort? Well, with its firm suspension and optional 20in wheels, our JCW test car was far from the most comfortable family SUV we've driven.

Be prepared for a jiggly low-speed ride that jostles occupants around over speed bumps. It settles down at motorway speeds, but you can’t adjust the softness of the adaptive suspension. A Cupra Ateca is a more comfortable sporty SUV. 

Mini says the Countryman retains a "go-kart feeling" when cornering, thanks to direct steering and minimum body lean. And, yes, the JCW contains body lean neatly at a moderate pace, but does start to feel a bit top heavy when pressing on.

The steering feels precise and there’s plenty of grip available, but the sleeker Cupra Formentor will feel more agile overall. 

Driving overview

Strengths Neat handling; punchy performance from JCW version

Weaknesses Firm ride on JCW; some wind and road noise

Lawrence Cheung road testing Mini Countryman JCW

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Finding a comfortable seating position takes a matter of seconds in the Mini Countryman, with the seat and steering wheel offering plenty of adjustment. The sportier front seats in the JCW version come with plenty of side bolstering to hold you in place when cornering.

The raised seating position and low dashboard make it easy to see over the bonnet, while the front pillars are positioned in such a way that you can see around them easily at junctions and roundabouts.

The chunky side and rear pillars can make visibility over your shoulder a little more tricky, but at least every Countryman has rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera. All versions come with LED headlights, while the JCW and S versions add automatic high-beam assist and cornering lights that light up when you turn into bends (you can add them to the C as part of the Level 1 pack).

The Countryman has a high-definition 9.6in circular touchscreen with sharp, vibrant graphics and various themes to choose from. It looks slick and has the initial wow factor, plus you can play arcade games on it using a smartphone as a controller. The standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring lets you run music and sat-nav apps from your mobile on the touchscreen.

The screen's menu system is fairly easy to get to grips with and there's a row of icons permanently on display so you can hop between functions such as the sat-nav, phone and radio. There are also a few knobs and buttons below the screen.

However, during our time with a test car, we found the operating system slow to respond to inputs, whether it was to adjust the temperature or switch between drive modes, which was distracting while driving.

A 365-watt Harman Kardon stereo with 12 speakers is available as part of the Level 2 pack.

The Countryman doesn't have a driver display, but it is available with a head-up display that shows speed, sat-nav instructions and other information.

Without the head-up display (which is standard on the JCW and S versions, and available as part of the Level 1 pack on the C), you’ll have to look across at the infotainment screen, which can prove distracting. Switching to the Go Kart driving mode at least dedicates the screen to large dials for a speedo, rev counter and fuel level indicator.

The Countryman’s interior is up there with the better efforts in the family SUV class, both in terms of build quality and plushness of materials. Knitted fabric material that feels soft but hard-wearing covers the dashboard and doors, adding a bit of colour. There are quite a lot of plastics elsewhere, but they at least feel higher quality and more robust than those in a Ford Kuga.

Even so, the interior is not as good as in the previous-generation Countryman, which had chrome-finished toggle switches that worked with a satisfying click. It feels more modern and appealing than the Cupra Ateca interior, but the Range Rover Evoque looks and feels more plush inside.

Interior overview

Strengths High driving position; interior has plenty of visual appeal

Weaknesses Laggy infotainment system on our test car; rear visibility could be better; no driver display

Mini Countryman JCW interior front seats

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

The Mini Countryman makes good use of its boxy dimensions. Its high roof gives even tall drivers plenty of head room, plus there's lots of leg and elbow room.

As well as two cupholders, there's a lidded cubby and a few small trays large enough to hold a phone each. The door bins are quite long but the armrest above it means you won’t be able to fit taller items (such as a bottle) in there. 

The Countryman is one of the biggest family SUVs in the rear, too. A huge amount of rear leg room means a 6ft tall occupant can stretch out when sitting behind someone of equal height. There’s also plenty of foot space under the front seat. Rear head room is generous, and the optional panoramic sunroof doesn’t eat into the space available.

Meanwhile, a middle rear passenger doesn’t have much of a floor hump to straddle and they don’t have to sit on a raised section of the seat base.

The Countryman's 460-litre boot edges ahead of the Honda ZR-V and Renault Austral but trails behind the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA.

The load area is a uniform shape, while underfloor storage is generous. The boot's high load lip means you have to lug heavier items quite far from the ground, though. All Countrymans come with roof rails fitted as standard.

The rear seats split in a handy 40/20/40 configuration, which is more useful than the 60/40 format in the Austral because it makes it easier to carry long, narrow items between two rear passengers.

Reclining rear seats come as standard, while S and JCW versions include sliding rear seats as well (they're also available in the Audi Q3 and Ford Kuga). You can add the sliding seats to Countryman C cars as part of the optional Level Pack 1. The rival Kia Sportage has reclining rear seats, but they don't slide.

Practicality overview

Strengths Rear bench slides and reclines; plenty of passenger space

Weaknesses Some rivals have bigger boots; high load lip

Mini Countryman JCW interior infotainment

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

The starting price for the Mini Countryman is slightly higher than entry-level versions of the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Karoq, but less than an Audi A3, BMW X1 or Ford Kuga. 

The high performance JCW version is cheaper than a similarly powerful Cupra Ateca, while costing significantly less than a BMW X1 M35i xDrive and Mercedes-AMG GLA 35. 

With strong resale values, the Countryman is expected to lose its value more slowly over three years than many rivals, including a Q3, X1 and Sportage. 

In terms of fuel economy, the 1.5-litre’s official figure of 47.9mpg beats a similarly powerful Q3 35 TFSI S tronic, but matches an X1 sDrive20i. If you're a company car driver, the Mini Countryman Electric is a better bet, but the Countryman C (with the lowest P11D price and CO2 output of 133g/km) is going to be the cheapest petrol version in terms of BIK tax.

The JCW officially returns 36.2mpg, which is identical to the X1 M35i and significantly more than the low 30s from the Cupra Ateca 300 and Mercedes-AMG GLA 35.

We reckon entry-level Classic trim represents good value because it’s well equipped, with infotainment and parking aids, 18in alloy wheels, two-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel, keyless start and cruise control. 

If you're going to spend more money, we'd advise you to spend it on some of the useful option packs (simply named Level 1, Level 2 and level 3).

Level 1 comes as standard on the more powerful S and JCW versions, and we'd recommend adding it to the Countryman C, because it adds a larger 54-litre fuel tank (an increase of nine litres), keyless entry, adaptive cruise control, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, heated front seats and sliding rear seats.

Level 2 adds rear privacy glass, a panoramic glass sunroof and a Harman Kardon sound system upgrade.

Level 3 adds electrically adjustable front seats with a massage function, Park Assist Plus, interior camera (which displays an image remotely on your phone via the Mini App) and an augmented reality view for the sat-nav.

Adding option packs can make your car easier to sell on, but they doesn't necessarily guarantee it'll be worth more. 

In terms of safety equipment, every Countryman comes with automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keep assist, traffic-sign recognition and an emergency call function (e-Call). The model hasn't yet been tested for safety by Euro NCAP.

The latest Countryman is too new to have featured in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey but Mini deserves praise for finishing third out of 32 manufacturers in same survey, behind only Lexus and Toyota.

Hopefully that means you won't need to call upon the three-year, unlimited mileage warranty. Three years is par for the course, with Kia offering seven years of cover and Hyundai offering a five-year warranty as standard.

Costs overview

Strengths Well equipped; competitive pricing; strong resale values

Weaknesses Plenty of tempting options can quickly drive up the price

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FAQs

  • No. The 2024 Countryman is the first Mini model to be manufactured in Germany.

  • Yes and no. The second-generation Countryman is available as a PHEV but the latest, 2024 Countryman is available only with mild-hybrid petrol engines or as an electric car.

  • The 2024 Mini Countryman is 4,444mm long. That's longer than the second-generation car, and puts it in our family SUV class.

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £676
Target Price from £28,908
Save up to £676
or from £336pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £27,499
RRP price range £29,335 - £56,180
Number of trims (see all)4
Number of engines (see all)5
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)electric, petrol
MPG range across all versions 36.2 - 49.6
Available doors options 5
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £84 / £3,376
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £168 / £6,753
Available colours