New Mini Countryman and new Volkswagen Tiguan vs Volvo XC40: practicality

Mini and Volkswagen have conjured up new models to take on Volvo’s family SUV stalwart, the XC40. Let’s see if this spells a changing of the guard...

Mini Countryman rear seats

Space and practicality

Front space, rear space, seating flexibility, boot

Space and practicality are important considerations with any family SUV, and thankfully none of our contenders trips up badly in this regard.

Front seat occupants will find that they have plenty of leg and head room, even if they’re taller than average, and there’s no danger of rubbing shoulders with each other. While the panoramic glass roof fitted to our Mini Countryman test car (part of the Level 3 pack) doesn’t do much to harm head room, you can expect even more in a car without one fitted.

Volkswagen Tiguan rear seats

The Volvo XC40 doesn’t have quite as much rear leg room as the others, but there’s still plenty for a couple of six-footers, while head room is generous in all of them. A middle passenger’s legs will have to straddle a floor hump in each car, but the Countryman’s flatter seat base is slightly more comfortable to sit on; the others are more sculpted for the two outer passengers.

While the XC40’s rear seats are fixed, the Countryman and Volkswagen Tiguan are fitted with reclining seatbacks that boost long-distance comfort and free up some extra head room when they’re tilted back. What’s more, their rear benches are split 60/40 and can be slid forwards or backwards, freeing up extra space in the boot in exchange for some of the rear leg room on offer.

Volvo XC40 rear seats

The Countryman and XC40 come with electric tailgates, whereas this feature is optional on the Tiguan as part of the £905 Comfort Package. Open them up and you’ll find that you have to heave your luggage higher to clear the Countryman’s load lip than in the others, and there’s a small drop down to the boot floor. The XC40’s load floor sits flush with the entrance, helping when sliding heavier items in, while the Tiguan’s height-adjustable floor allows you to do the same when set to its highest position.

Drop the Tiguan’s floor into its lowest setting and you’ll get the biggest load area of the group, with enough height and overall capacity to swallow a healthy nine carry-on suitcases below its load cover. The XC40 can accept seven cases, while the Countryman can handle only five, partly due to its shorter boot length.

Boot space

Mini Countryman

Mini Countryman boot

Boot 460-1450 litres Suitcases 5

Volkswagen Tiguan

Volkswagen Tiguan boot

Boot 652-na litres Suitcases 9

Volvo XC40

Volvo XC40 boot

Boot 443-1336 litres Suitcases 7

Also consider