When we first drove the new Countryman, we liked its impressive practicality, comprehensive list of standard equipment and premium-feeling interior. Yet at the time, we couldn’t recommend one in Cooper S guise. Why?
Well, it’s expensive to buy and run, rides poorly and doesn’t handle as well as more sporting rivals such as the Seat Ateca. So has the standard Cooper addressed those issues? Yes and no.
At £23,035, it’s a whopping £2180 cheaper than the Cooper S and it rides better, too. However, its 1.5-litre petrol engine feels distinctly underpowered, which will be a hindrance if you spend most of your time on the motorway or carrying several passengers.
Where does that leave us, then? So, if you really want a Countryman, we would still recommend the quicker, more efficient 2.0 diesel. But for the best SUV in this price range, we'd point you in the direction of the excellent Ateca all day long.
What Car? says...
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Mini Countryman Cooper
Price £23,035 Engine 3cyl, 1499cc, turbocharged, petrol Power 134bhp at 4,400rpm Torque 243lb ft at 1400rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual Kerb weight 1265kg 0-62mph 9.6sec Top speed 126mph Economy 51.4mpg (official average) CO2, tax band 126g/km, 24%
Looking for a new small SUV? Here's our pick of the best cars to buy right now, and the ones to avoid.
Top 10 best small SUVs 2017:
10. Kia Soul
The Soul is more of a jacked-up hatchback than a fully fledged SUV. However, it still offers many of the benefits buyers in this market are looking for – it's competitively priced and its interior is roomy and well equippped. All of the Soul's engines could be more efficient and quiet, though, and there's plenty of wind noise at motorway speeds. There's a fully electric version to consider if you'll mainly be driving in town.
Our pick: 1.6 GDi 2
9. Audi Q3
While high-end versions are pricey, the Q3 is a desirable choice in this market, with a high quality interior. It's also good to drive and relatively inexpensive to run, with engines that are mostly smooth and strong.
Our pick: 2.0 TDI 150 SE
Compact on the outside but spacious inside, the Vitara is an easy car to live with. There's lots of standard kit on offer and it's relatively practical. It's just a pity that its petrol engines' CO2 emissions are unusually high for this class.
Our pick: 1.6 SZ4