MINI Countryman review

MINI Countryman review

We get to grips with the next-gen MINI Countryman in entry-level and performance guises…

I’ve always found it tricky trying to categorise the MINI Countryman. It looks like it’s a cross between an estate and a crossover, yet it’s actually about the same size as a family-sized Nissan Qashqai SUV.

One thing is for sure, the third generation Countryman is the biggest MINI ever. MAXI even.

Fans will be pleased to know that it’s still recognisable as a Countryman with its boxy styling, though this time round it’s 130mm longer than the outgoing model and 60mm taller.

The even better news is that means there’s more space for occupants and their luggage, and it’s had a significant tech upgrade.

MINI Countryman review

First a quick recap. The MINI Countryman first appeared in 2010, with the second generation following in 2017. Significantly the Mk 2 was also available as a plug-in hybrid.

The all-new Countryman goes one better. There’s now a 100% electric option with a range of up to 287 miles.

The EV wasn’t available at the launch event, so we sampled two of the turbo petrol versions – the entry-level Countryman C, which has a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and is likely to be the most popular model – and the high-performance Countryman JCW (John Cooper Works) ALL4 range-topper, complete with 2.0-litre four-cylinder.

The 2024 MINI Countryman follows the clean, minimalist look already seen in the new MINI Cooper Electric.

MINI Countryman review

There’s now an octagonal grille, smoother lines and simplified LED lighting front and back, while its rugged, upright proportions give it more of an SUV style.

Starting at £29,290 the MINI Countryman is offered with three trim levels – Classic, Exclusive or Sport. The JCW tips the scales at a hefty £40,425.

Arguably, the wow factor comes when you step inside the cabin. It’s paired back, like the exterior, and now the centrepiece is the world’s first circular OLED display.

Serving as an instrument cluster and onboard infotainment hub, the stunning touchscreen is 9.4 inches in diameter. The upper half displays vehicle-related information such as speed and battery status, with the lower area is used for navigation, media, phone and climate.

MINI Countryman review

Frankly, it was a little overwhelming at first because there’s an awful lot going on there, but I reckon it would all start to make sense after a week or so of ownership. Thankfully, MINI has kept a few signature toggle switches below the display.

The display’s party trick is a range of different ‘Experience’ modes, which change the look of the infotainment system and the car’s driving characteristics.

The default ‘Experience’ mode is referred to as Core, with others including Go Kart, Green, Vivid, Timeless, Personal, Balance, and Trail. Whenever you change the mode there’s a corresponding animation and jingle that plays. You’ll either find these quirky or irritating.

Elsewhere, the cabin definitely feels roomier and lighter than before (there’s an optional panoramic glass roof).

MINI Countryman review

A sliding rear seat bench with adjustable backrests adds to the car’s flexibility, while up to 460 litres of boot space is offered with the seats up, expanding to 1,450 litres when they’re folded. Plus, there’s an additional under-floor compartment for stowing charging cables, for instance. In short, it’s a genuine family-sized car.

One of the outgoing Countryman’s strengths was the premium quality of the cabin. Except for the soft synthetic leather seats, I’d say the new model isn’t quite as classy, with its blend of rough-textured ‘knitted’ fabric made from recycled materials wrapped round the dashboard and door cards, and scratchy plastic surfaces.

Another example is the small perspex head-up display. Better than nothing, but nowhere near as classy as a HUD that projects directly onto the windscreen.

On the road, the third-gen Countryman has retained the fun-loving character you’d associate with the MINI family.

The front-wheel drive Countryman C’s punchy engine produces 167bhp and 280Nm of torque, and it can dash from 0–62mph in 8.3 seconds.

So, it’s swift, but it’s also no hot hatch – you’ll need to choose the S or JCW versions for more performance.

MINI Countryman

That said, it’s willing, and if you like a three-pot thrum and economy is important to you (it averages up to 46.3mpg, while CO2 emissions start at 138g/km), then this model ticks all the right boxes.

The C gets a standard passive suspension setup, which is on the firm side. It’s only really noticeable over the worst lumps and bumps, though it can feel a little jittery on poorer surfaces too.

For the most part it’s a perfectly pleasant ride with tidy handling and plenty of grip. The steering is direct and responsive, while the seven-speed automatic gearbox is slick with well-judged rations.

There’s decent body control in more challenging corners, but it would be an exaggeration to say that the Countryman C is agile with go-kart handling.

If you want more performance and sporty handling, then try the distinctive John Cooper Works Countryman. Its 2.0-litre produces 296bhp and 400Nm of torque, drive is via all four wheels and it can sprint from 0–62mph in just 5.1 seconds.

On the downside, fuel economy drops to an official 36.2mpg and CO2 emissions rise to an old-school 177-188g/km.

MINI Countryman JCW

The JCW gets an adaptive suspension setup, so it constantly alters its behaviour according to road conditions and driving style in order to maximise the balance between ride and handling.

In reality, it feels more planted on the road, and if anything, it’s just a bit too powerful at times.

The steering is sharp and, for the most part, the ride is better, but it’s still firm and will still crash over the worst UK roads can offer.

The engine is more refined, though some won’t like the fact that it is artificially enhanced.

Stick the JCW into ‘Go-Kart’ mode and it sharpens up, delivering more driving engagement than its conventional SUV rivals.

Verdict: The new MINI Countryman is a real step-up from its predecessor, especially when it comes to practicality and technology. Fun to drive, well equipped and nicely finished, there’s arguably more of a cooler vibe than premium feel this time round.

MINI UK

All-new MINI Cooper goes into production in the UK

Gareth Herincx

21 hours ago
Auto News

First fifth-generation MINI Cooper rolls off the production line at Plant Oxford

The first fifth generation MINI Cooper has been manufactured at Plant Oxford, the home of MINI.

The first three-door model was driven off the production line by Charlie Cooper, grandson of the legendary John Cooper, whose heritage inspired the Cooper moniker.

The new MINI Cooper is the latest generation to be built in the UK, with all three BMW Group UK manufacturing sites contributing to production: 

BMW Group Plant Swindon produces body pressings and sub-assemblies, while the latest highly-efficient three and four-cylinder petrol engines are built at BMW Group Plant Hams Hall in North Warwickshire. 

Finally, these parts come together at MINI Plant Oxford where body shell production, paint and final assembly take place.

Since the launch of the first modern MINI in 2001, more than 4.4 million MINIs have been produced in the UK – including 150,000 MINI Electric models (built between 2019 and 2023).

The new MINI Cooper is the third member of the new MINI family, joining the MINI Cooper Electric and the new MINI Countryman. Available in two model variants: the MINI Cooper C and performance-enhanced MINI Cooper S, the latest three-door merges traditional brand values with innovative technology.

“This milestone underscores the commitment to our roots while propelling us into a dynamic future of driving,” said Stefanie Wurst, Head of MINI.

“Plant Oxford is the heart of the MINI brand, and today, as we witness the birth of this new chapter, we renew our pledge to craftsmanship and the thrill of motoring.”

Dr. Markus Grüneisl, Head of Plants Oxford and Swindon added, “We are delighted to welcome the new MINI Cooper to our lines in both Oxford and Swindon. 

“The new MINI Cooper is an incredibly important car for our team and UK manufacturing. We are proud to produce this iconic car, loved all over the world.”

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MINI Aceman

The upcoming MINI Aceman electric crossover has been undergoing final testing in the desert in strong sunlight and temperatures of up to 50 Degrees C.

The Aceman, which has already successfully completed tests at the Arctic Circle, combines “the features of the two most successful MINI models, the MINI Cooper and the MINI Countryman, to create a new vehicle concept”.

MINI Aceman

In addition to driving dynamics and comfort, the test team is focusing on the demanding aspects of an electric vehicle, such as the air conditioning, charging and cooling of the battery in extreme conditions.

The MINI Aceman will bridge the gap between the MINI Cooper and the MINI Countryman and is expected to be unveiled at the Auto China show on 24 April.

Only available as an EV, it will have a modest battery size of 54.2kWh and power will come from a single electric motor at the front axle. Range is expected to be up to 248 miles.

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Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who’s worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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BMW to build new electric MINI in Britain

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New MINI Cooper Electric

BMW Group has announced a new investment of more than £600 million in the MINI factories at Oxford and Swindon.

The Oxford plant is gearing-up to build two new all-electric MINI models from 2026, the 3-door MINI Cooper and the compact crossover MINI Aceman.

This development has been supported by the UK Government and will help to secure jobs at the Oxford manufacturing plant and at the body-pressing facility in Swindon.

“With this new investment we will develop the Oxford plant for production of the new generation of electric MINIs and set the path for purely electric car manufacturing in the future,” said Milan Nedeljković, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for production.

MINI Plant Oxford

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said “BMW Group’s investment is another shining example of how the UK is the best place to build cars of the future. By backing our car manufacturing industry, we are securing thousands of jobs and growing our economy right across the country.”

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said, “This decision is a big vote of confidence in the UK economy and the work of this Government to ensure the continued strength of our world-leading automotive sector. We are proud to be able to support BMW Group’s investment, which will secure high-quality jobs, strengthen our supply chains, and boost Britain’s economic growth”.

The MINI Plant Oxford currently produces the MINI 3-door, the MINI 5-door as well as the MINI Clubman and the MINI Electric.

From 2024 the plant will start producing the next generation MINI 3-door and MINI 5-door with combustion engines, as well as the new MINI Convertible, before they are joined by the new all-electric vehicles in 2026 – the MINI Cooper 3-door and the MINI Aceman.

The factory will reach a production capacity of around 200,000 cars per year in the medium term, with ICE and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) initially being built on the same production line. From 2030, the Oxford Plant will produce all-electric MINI models exclusively.

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British-built Nissan Qashqai was UK’s bestselling car in 2022

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The Nissan Qashqai was the UK’s most popular new car of 2022, and the first British-built model to top the annual sales charts for 24 years.

Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) confirm that the home-grown Qashqai – which was designed in Paddington, engineered in Cranfield and is built in Sunderland – was the nation’s best-selling car of the last 12 months.

A total of 42,704 new Qashqais were driven off dealership forecourts across the UK in 2022, reported the SMMT.

To celebrate the achievement, an exclusive gold-wrapped Qashqai was created in honour of the 7,000 Nissan employees from around the UK that have contributed to its success.

  1. Nissan Qashqai – 42,704
  2. Vauxhall Corsa – 35,910
  3. Tesla Model Y – 35,551
  4. Ford Puma – 35,088
  5. Mini – 32, 387
  6. Kia Sportage – 29,655
  7. Hyundai Tucson – 27,839
  8. Volkswagen Golf – 26,588
  9. Ford Kuga – 26,549
  10. Ford Fiesta – 25,070

Overall, 1.61 million new cars were registered in the UK in 2022 – the lowest level since 1992.

Although demand for new vehicles remained high, manufacturers struggled to get hold of parts. There were particularly serious problems obtaining semiconductors, which are used in a vast array of electronic systems, from infotainment systems to engine management.

Meanwhile, demand for electric vehicles continued to grow and they accounted for almost a fifth of new car sales.

Registrations rose from 190,700 to 267,000 – with the EV market share climbing from 11.6% to 16.6%.

The Tesla Model Y was the biggest-selling electric vehicle by far, nothing up 35,551 registrations, followed by the Tesla Model 3 (19,071) and Kia Niro (11,197).

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