The quirky mini Countryman has been hugely popular since it arrived seven years ago. In February 2017, we’ll get an all-new model that’s bigger and roomier with a higher quality interior. Its increased size makes it a direct rival to the Nissan Qashqai and Seat Ateca, while its improved quality could help it appeal to potential buyers of smaller prestige SUVs, such as the Audi Q2.
The new Countryman will cost from £22,465, a £6000 price rise, but gets more standard kit than the outgoing model. We invited a team of What Car? readers to give their verdicts on the new Mini at an exclusive preview.
Age: 27 Job: Sales manager Drives: BMW 320d M Sport
‘I like the rugged exterior styling, and the fact that this car is a fair bit bigger than its predecessor.
‘The interior represents a significant step forward for Mini in terms of quality; it’s almost on a level with BMW for the premium, executive feel of the materials and build quality. The switches, infotainment screen and sat-nav are all top notch.
‘It’s so much easier to navigate through all the different menus on the new infotainment system, especially with the shortcut buttons. There’s also the option of having a touchscreen with the standard rotary dial controller, which is good; it better integrates the car with today’s smartphone culture.
‘The screen is well positioned on the dashboard, too, so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road for too long to look at it, and you can work it via the rotary dial controller between the front seats.
‘This car has much more space inside than the previous model, which felt a bit cramped with four adults inside. Rear space is better now, and the car is roomy enough for a family with two children and a dog to go away on holiday in.’
Age: 38 Job: Dog groomer Drives: Mini One
‘I’m impressed with the size of the boot. In my car, if I go shopping and have four large carrier bags, I have to fold the rear seats down. In the Countryman, I could easily squeeze in at least seven with the seats up.
‘I love the optional folding picnic bench in the tailgate; you can sit on it and there’s a cover to stop it from getting muddy. I’m not convinced about the Countryman’s headlights, though. I think they look a bit strange; I prefer the Mini hatchback’s traditional round ones.
‘The silver metal strips at the bottom of the doors are great, though. They’re only a small detail, but they give the car a 4x4 look.
‘You can opt to have a little light in the shape of the Mini logo that projects onto the ground when you unlock the car; that’s one of those quirky Mini brand features that I love.
‘The interior feels a lot sturdier and better made than my 15-year-old Mini’s. The difference between the two cars is huge; you can see how the brand has evolved, but they’ve kept all the design signatures, such as the toggle switches on the dash.
‘Unfortunately, this Countryman loses marks with me because it’s pricier than the previous model.’
Find out what our other two readers thought of the Countryman on the next page.
Page 1 of 2