Mini Countryman review

Category: Family SUV

The latest Mini Countryman has a clever interior and should hold its value well

Mini Countryman front cornering
  • Mini Countryman front cornering
  • Mini Countryman rear cornering
  • Mini Countryman interior dashboard
  • Mini Countryman boot open
  • Mini Countryman interior driver display
  • Mini Countryman right driving
  • Mini Countryman front right driving
  • Mini Countryman front cornering
  • Mini Countryman rear right driving
  • Mini Countryman front right static
  • Mini Countryman right static
  • Mini Countryman grille detail
  • Mini Countryman headlights detail
  • Mini Countryman alloy wheel detail
  • Mini Countryman rear lights detail
  • Mini Countryman interior front seats
  • Mini Countryman interior back seats
  • Mini Countryman infotainment touchscreen
  • Mini Countryman interior detail
  • Mini Countryman interior detail
  • Mini Countryman interior detail
  • Mini Countryman front cornering
  • Mini Countryman rear cornering
  • Mini Countryman interior dashboard
  • Mini Countryman boot open
  • Mini Countryman interior driver display
  • Mini Countryman right driving
  • Mini Countryman front right driving
  • Mini Countryman front cornering
  • Mini Countryman rear right driving
  • Mini Countryman front right static
  • Mini Countryman right static
  • Mini Countryman grille detail
  • Mini Countryman headlights detail
  • Mini Countryman alloy wheel detail
  • Mini Countryman rear lights detail
  • Mini Countryman interior front seats
  • Mini Countryman interior back seats
  • Mini Countryman infotainment touchscreen
  • Mini Countryman interior detail
  • Mini Countryman interior detail
  • Mini Countryman 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.

As a result, this third-generation Countryman promises more interior space than ever 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 but similarly striking to look at.

The Countryman’s large headlights and front grille, combined with short overhangs, have been hallmarks since the original version was launched more than a decade ago. However, the rear tail lights now let you switch from the signature Union Jack pattern to two alternatives.

Perhaps the biggest break from tradition – other than the arrival of the battery-powered Mini Countryman Electric (which we've reviewed separately) – is the removal of any chrome exterior trim. Buyers can, though, choose between a classic or sporty look, and there are loads of personalisation options.

So, how well does the Mini Countryman stack up against the best family SUVs – including the Audi Q3, Nissan Qashqai and Volvo XC40? Read on to find out...

Overview

With a huge dose of style and a range of strong engines, the latest Mini Countryman injects some welcome fun into family SUV life. Thankfully, it also covers the basics, with a good combination of space and versatility. It isn't perfect, though, with a flawed driving position and too many hard interior plastics. We reckon the Countryman C in Exclusive trim with the Level 1 pack makes the most sense.

  • Gutsy engines
  • Spacious and flexible rear seats
  • Competitively priced
  • Awkward driving position
  • Fiddly infotainment system
  • Interior quality could be better
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Mini Countryman 1.5 C Exclusive 5dr Auto review
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Performance & drive

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

The entry-level model, the Mini Countryman C, has a 168bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine that drives the front wheels, and delivers all the performance most buyers will need.

It's effortless to drive at low speeds and has plenty of mid-range muscle when you ask for a burst of acceleration. We managed a respectable 0-60mph time of 8.4 seconds, which just beat the Volvo XC40 B3 (8.7 seconds) and the VW Tiguan eTSI 150 (9.0 seconds) on the same day of testing.

For something nippier, there's the Countryman S, which combines a 215bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine with four-wheel drive (called ALL4 by Mini) and drops the 0-62mph time to 7.1 seconds.

The fastest Countryman is the JCW, which has a 296bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine and ALL4 four-wheel drive. With a 0-62mph time of 5.4 seconds, it's even quicker off the line than a Mini Countryman Electric. The JCW never feels as rapid as the figures suggest, but has a healthy slug of mid-rev muscle that makes for easy overtaking.

Whichever version you choose, you get a seven-speed automatic gearbox. In the Countryman C, the gearbox is reasonably smooth most of the time, but when we pressed the accelerator when stationary or at very low speeds, there was often a lengthy delay between pressing the accelerator pedal and the car surging forwards. That's not ideal when tackling junctions and roundabouts.

Mini Countryman image
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Switching to the sportiest of the three driving modes – called Go Kart – sharpens up the accelerator pedal's response and the snappiness of the gearbox, but doesn't fix the issue entirely.

The Countryman JCW's auto gearbox is quicker to react, plus there are shift paddles mounted behind the steering wheel to let you take control of gear changes yourself. You can have these paddles in the Countryman C and S but they cost extra.

Ride comfort depends on which version you go for. Unsurprisingly, the sporty JCW has the firmest suspension. It's not jarring but it jostles you around more than a Cupra Ateca. We've yet to try the Countryman S, but the C offers a ride that's mostly supple yet well controlled. It doesn't isolate you from bumps as well as the best versions of the Volvo XC40, which provide a calmer and more cosseting ride.

The JCW's stiff suspension means there's not much body roll through corners, plus grip is plentiful. Sadly, the steering doesn't stream much feedback to your fingertips. So, although you can go round corners surprisingly quickly, you won't be having as much fun as in a Cupra Formentor, Ford Puma ST or VW T-Roc R.

That's less of a worry in the Countryman C. It's not sporty but it handles appropriately for a family SUV, with more grip than a Tiguan and staying a bit more upright through bends than an XC40. It's also quieter than the Countryman JCW, with less tyre noise and an engine that stays hushed, even when worked hard.

The mild-hybrid electrical system in the C and the JCW will switch the engine on or off quickly and smoothly in stop-start traffic. Even though the Countryman also has regenerative braking to harvest electricity when you press the brake pedal, it’s easy to come to a halt smoothly.

“The only thing that lets down the ride of the Countryman C is a bit of low-speed fidget.” – Will Nightingale, Reviews Editor

Driving overview

Strengths Punchy performance, especially in JCW version; reasonably comfy ride

Weaknesses Steering is rather numb; Countryman C has a slow-witted gearbox

Mini Countryman rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

The driving position in the Mini Countryman is rather flawed because the steering wheel is offset from the seat, doesn't offer enough reach adjustment to suit everyone, and the head restraint forces your head forwards uncomfortably.

There’s also a shortage of lower back support in the front seats, and although adjustable lumbar support fixes that, it's available only with the Level 3 Pack, which pushes up the price considerably.

More positively, the raised seating position and low dashboard make it easy to see over the bonnet, while the windscreen 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 over-the-shoulder visibility 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 have automatic high-beam assist and cornering lights that illuminate when you turn in to bends (if you want those on a Countryman C, you can add them as part of the Level 1 Pack).

The 9.6in infotainment touchscreen – which is circular as a tribute to the speedo in the original 1950s Mini – has sharp graphics and several brightly coloured themes.

The operating system seems designed primarily to look snazzy rather than be simple to use, though. Iit’s extremely busy to look at with so much information on display at all times. The menus could be more logical to make it easier to find what you want, and some of the icons are small and fiddly.

The standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring let you run music and sat-nav apps on your mobile via the touchscreen. It's just annoying that the rectangular layout of the smartphone mirroring is shoehorned into the middle of the circular display.

It's also frustrating that you don't get physical controls for the air-conditioning, so you have to use the touchscreen to change the temperature. It's a criticism we've levelled at the Volvo XC40 for years and is sadly common among modern cars.

As for the rest of the interior, there’s plenty of colour, and a variety of textures and materials on show, but that can’t hide the hard plastic on the dashboard. While the VW Tiguan and XC40 are not as playfully designed inside, their interiors are built from classier materials.

It's also worth noting that the Countryman doesn't have conventional instrument dials behind the steering wheel. The S, the JCW and the Level 1 Pack-equipped C get a head-up display that projects your speed and other information on to a piece of perspex on the dashboard, but otherwise you'll need to glance across at the infotainment screen.

“The knitted interior fabric that you get with Exclusive trim transitions from blue on the dashboard to brown on the doors, but I can't help thinking that this makes it look like mud has been splattered across the latter.” – Steve Huntingford, Editor

Interior overview

Strengths High driving position; interior has plenty of visual appeal

Weaknesses Lots of hard plastics; no physical air-con controls; flawed driving position

Mini Countryman interior dashboard

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.

In addition to a cupholder for each front occupant, there's a lidded cubby and a few small trays each large enough to hold a phone. The door bins are quite a good size, but the door armrests above them mean it can be a struggle to fit in water bottles and other taller items.

As for the rear, there's enough leg room for a six-footer to stretch out when sitting behind someone of similar height, with a bit more space than in a Volvo XC40. There’s plenty of foot space under the front seats, and rear head room is generous – even the optional panoramic glass sunroof doesn’t compromise on space.

Meanwhile, a middle rear passenger gets a relatively comfy seat and doesn’t have much of a floor hump to straddle.

We'd recommend adding the Level 1 Pack if you're buying the Countryman C (it comes as standard on the S and JCW). That adds a sliding function for the rear seats, allowing you to choose between more knee room in the back or more boot space. You can also recline the backrest to boost long-distance comfort and free up some extra head room when they’re tilted back.

With the rear seats fully back, the Countryman has a 460-litre boot, which is officially bigger than the Volvo XC40's. However, we squeezed in just five carry-on suitcases, whereas the XC40 took seven and the VW Tiguan managed nine.

It doesn't help that the Countryman's load bay isn’t as long as those rivals' and is also reasonably shallow. While there is some underfloor storage, you can’t lower the height of the floor as you can in many family SUVs. A powered tailgate is standard, although you’ll have to heave heavy items over a high load lip.

To help you fit more in, the rear seatbacks split and fold in a 40/20/40 configuration, as they do in a Tiguan. That's more useful than the 60/40 layout in many rivals – including the XC40 – because it means you can carry long, narrow items between two rear passengers. You can’t fold down the rear backrest remotely with levers in the boot, unlike in a Tiguan.

“I'm 6ft 5in tall and felt really cramped in the back of the old Countryman, but I'm fine in this latest model.” – Chris Haining, Sub-editor

Practicality overview

Strengths Rear bench slides and reclines on most versions; plenty of passenger space

Weaknesses Boot isn't particularly well shaped; high load lip

Mini Countryman boot open

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

The starting price of the Mini Countryman C is slightly higher than that of entry-level versions of the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Karoq but it undercuts any version of the VW Tiguan or Volvo XC40.

Likewise, the high-performance Countryman JCW version is cheaper than a Ford Puma ST but undercuts the Cupra Ateca and Cupra Formentor while costing thousands less than a BMW X1 M35i or Mercedes-AMG GLA 35.

Whichever version of the Countryman you choose, expect relatively slow depreciation. That's obviously a good thing if you're buying outright, but also helps if you're signing up to a PCP finance agreement, because it means lower monthly repayments than you might be expecting.

If you're a company car driver, the Mini Countryman Electric is a much cheaper option tax-wise than any of the petrols. However, the Countryman C is reasonably competitive on the BIK tax front, with CO2 emissions as low as 133g/km.

Entry-level Classic trim isn't too badly equipped, because on top of the infotainment system and parking aids, it comes with 17in alloy wheels, two-zone climate control, keyless start and cruise control.

Exclusive trim is worth the extra though, because it gets you bigger 18in alloys, some slightly more upmarket interior finishes, a heated steering wheel and a far more enticing palette of exterior paint colours to choose from.

If you're going to hand over more money, we'd advise you to spend it on one or more 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 recommend adding it to the C if you get one, because it includes a 54-litre petrol tank (instead of a 45-litre one), keyless entry, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and heated front seats.

Meanwhile, Level 2 gives you adaptive cruise control, rear privacy glass, a panoramic glass sunroof and a Harman Kardon sound system upgrade.

As you'd expect, Level 3 goes further still, with electrically adjustable front seats (with a massaging function) and an augmented-reality view for the sat-nav. However, it pushes the price into the territory of bigger and better SUVs.

In terms of safety equipment, every Countryman comes with automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assist, traffic-sign recognition and an emergency call function (e-Call). At the time of writing, Euro NCAP hadn't published a safety report, so we can't tell you how it rates against rivals for crash protection.

The latest Countryman is too new to have featured in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey but Mini as a brand deserves praise for finishing third out of 32 manufacturers in that 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 nothing special, with Kia offering seven years of cover and Toyota up to 10.

“On our fuel economy test loop, the Countryman C average 37.2mpg, which is around 10mpg down on its official average.” – Dan Jones, Reviewer

Buying & owning overview

Strengths Fairly well equipped as standard; competitive entry price; strong predicted resale values

Weaknesses Optional extras can quickly drive up the price; no Euro NCAP score yet


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Mini Countryman interior driver display

FAQs

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

  • The 2024 Mini Countryman is 4444mm long, 1661mm tall and 1843mm wide (excluding door mirrors). It's bigger than the second-generation car and we class it as a family SUV.

  • We reckon the 168bhp 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine makes the most sense. This is found in the Countryman C.

At a glance
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RRP price range £29,340 - £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