What's the used Mini Countryman hatchback like?
Upon first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking there isn’t much that’s mini about the Mini Countryman. Apart from a few visual cues, its chunky styling bears little resemblance to the classic Minis of old from which it takes its name.
Minis have a reputation for terrific handling, and the Countryman is certainly sharper than most SUVs to drive, with minimal body lean if you throw it into a corner and a responsive front end that turns in sharply, making the whole car feel agile and nimble.
However, it isn’t perfect – for one thing, the steering doesn’t offer the same incisive feedback as smaller cars, and it’s far too heavy, which makes the Countryman a bit of a chore when the time comes to park it up.
You also pay the price for that tight handling the minute you go over a bump. Well, actually, you don’t even need a bump to tell how firm the Countryman’s suspension is – the slightest imperfection in the road surface will communicate that to you. Even the most basic models suffer from a bouncy ride, while the hot Cooper S model is firm enough to jiggle your teeth around.
The sit-up-and-beg driving position won’t be to everyone’s tastes, meanwhile, but at least the seats are welcoming and supportive, and there’s a reasonable amount of space for four people, too. Squeezing in a fifth won’t be a popular move with your rear-seat passengers, though, as shoulder room in the outer two seats is pretty restrictive.
They’ll be happier to know that you should be able to fit their luggage in the boot, mind you, thanks to a sizeable load area that’s larger even than some cars from the class above; this is further enhanced on cars fitted with the optional storage compartment pack, which gives you a lockable, variable-height boot floor and some other neat additions such as netting, load straps and tie-down eyelets.
You get a choice of turbocharged engines in the Countryman; pick between a 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre petrol, the latter in two different power outputs, or a pair of 2.0-litre diesels. All were made available with the option of four-wheel drive, and an automatic gearbox (though the automatic was only available on four-wheel-drive models).
There’s also a plug-in hybrid called the Countryman Cooper S E, which comes with four-wheel drive as standard, and combines the 1.5-litre petrol version with an electric motor that can operate independently, giving you a short burst of electric-only range if it’s charged up.