Driving position and dashboard
The standard seats are fractionally more comfortable than the optional sports seats, but the latter are more supportive in corners. The spring-loaded backrest is also tricky to adjust in small increments and the release lever is awkwardly placed, but electric adjustment is available. It’s a shame, though, that adjustable lumbar support is only offered as part of the expensive electric seat and memory pack upgrade.
The steering wheel has both reach and height adjustment and, in combination with the seat adjustments available, it’s easy for drivers of all shapes and sizes to get comfortable in no time. The dials are attached to the steering column so they’re clearly visible no matter how the steering wheel is set, and a head-up display is optional on all trims. The retro toggle switches in the centre of the dashboard look good, too.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Although Mini calls the Countryman an SUV, it feels much more like a conventional hatchback from behind the wheel. It may have slightly raised ground clearance and a tall roof, but rivals such as the Seat Ateca and Nissan Qashqai both tower over you.
Forward visibility is pretty good, though, with that tall screen and those bulbous headlights making it easy to judge the edges of the car. Thick front, side and rear pillars can make for tricky visibility over your shoulder and when approaching junctions, though, and the small rear windows make it rather dark in the back seats.
The good news is that rear parking sensors are standard while front parking sensors are fairly affordable. Should you want even more reassurance, a rear-view camera is also available.
Sat nav and infotainment
All versions of the Mini Countryman get 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.
Being related to BMW’s class-leading iDrive system, both versions of the Countryman’s infotainment system have clear graphics and menus that are easy to navigate. However, the smaller system is just as easy to use as the big one so if you don’t need live traffic alerts or road status, then you’ll be perfectly happy with the smaller one.
The latest Countryman makes good use of tactile soft-touch plastics around the dashboard and tops of doors, but let your fingers stray further down and you will find harder, scratchier plastics.
The Countryman retains Mini’s trademark toggle switches in the centre of the dashboard. These feel impressively solid and look like they’re actually made of metal. The other switches aren’t quite as industrial in design, but they do click with a pleasing precision.