Mini Countryman long-term test: report 2

Our senior videographer needs a car that's frugal, practical and fun – does the Mini Countryman plug-in hybrid fit the bill?...

Mini Countryman PHEV boot

The car Mini Countryman Classic Cooper S E All4 PHEV Run by Kiall Garrett, senior videographer

Why it’s here To see if there's more to a plug-in hybrid small SUV than its short-term fuel economy

Needs to Take life as a high-mileage videographer's workhorse in its stride, with enough practicality to be easy to live with and a plush enough interior to enjoy every journey.

Mileage 2960 List price £33,346 Target price £31,522 Price as tested £40,005 Test economy 44.0 mpg Official economy 156.9 mpg

3 July – Small SUV, big boot?

Two large suitcases, two rucksacks, two tripods, lights, various bags of cables, batteries, stands and other miscellaneous filming equipment is a challenge for any boot to take. Has the 405-litre boot in my Mini Countryman been up to the task?

Well, compared to a non-plug-in hybrid version of the Countryman, the boot on my car is reduced by 45 litres. That’s not the end of the world, but means it’s not as spacious as the rival Ford Puma. The Puma also has that massive underfloor ‘MegaBox’ storage area, which is useful for carrying muddy wellies. The Countryman doesn’t offer that, but it does at least have enough room under the floor to keep the charging cable.

The Countryman's boxy-shaped boot is helpful for making the most of the space, and there’s no loading lip, either, making throwing things into the back nice and simple. I do need to think creatively with my packing, though, because once the first two cases are loaded up that’s most of the space gone.

There’s no height adjustable boot floor to help out, and I don’t tend to remove the parcel shelf because it doubles up as a handy “desk” on shoots while I’m constantly swapping lenses, batteries and microphones to produce the videos you'll see on our YouTube channel.

Mini Countryman rear seats and Kiall and dog

But by dropping the rear seats, I can turn the Countryman into a far more spacious car. With those seats down the overall loading capacity is greater than that of the Puma with its rear seats similarly lowered, and goes toe-to-toe with any other small SUV rival. You might not think it to look at the Mini, but judging by the quoted storage capacity of both cars, the Countryman is indeed bigger

Plus, you get 40/20/40 folding rear seats as standard – quite the luxury in this class. Being able to drop each seat individually means it’s easy to configure in a way which means I can fit in loads of stuff and still have room for passengers – even the family puppy.

It would be better if they were easier to fold down, though. You’ve got to go in and grab a pulley by the seatbelt and then haul them down. It’s a two-handed job, so the dream would be to have levers in the boot which drop them – but that’s not exactly a common feature in this small-booted class.

But overall, while it’s a “small” SUV by name, the Countryman definitely punches above its weight for practicality in my book.

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