The petrol-powered Cooper S revs smoothly while emitting a sporty rasp in keeping with the badge (the JCW, with its sports exhaust, sounds even rortier, popping and banging when you come off the accelerator). The engine sounds a bit strained at high revs, but you won’t have to stretch the motor that far under normal driving conditions. The Cooper D actually has a smoother, quieter and more free-revving diesel engine than many rivals, making it our pick of the Countryman range.
The entry-level engine in the Cooper, being a three-cylinder, fails to match the Cooper S’s smoother four-cylinder motor when it comes to vibration and noise. And due to that lack of grunt, you have to keep this unit above 2500rpm to make meaningful progress, compounding its aural intrusion.
The Cooper D actually has a smoother, quieter and more free-revving diesel engine than many rivals, making it our pick of the Countryman range. Because the Cooper SD has a higher-output version of the 2.0-litre diesel, it’s noticeably louder.
As you’d expect, the Countryman SE All4 plug-in hybrid is the quietest of the bunch when it’s running on electric power alone, and even when its 1.5-litre petrol engine joins in, the sound isn’t gruff. In fact, the engine and electric motor work together very smoothly.
However, road and wind noise is still worse than rivals and the Countryman is harder to drive smoothly regardless of engine choice due to a heavy, springy clutch movement and gearshift.
As for the eight-speed automatic gearbox, shifts are smooth and well timed. It’s a big improvement on the old auto 'box.
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