MINI afficionados will be pleased to know that the Countryman has not lost any of its excellent driving dynamics, well maybe a little - but the MINI Countryman is heavier and has a higher centre of gravity.
The Auto Start/Stop function on the manual cars stops the engine whenever the car stops, the clutch is disengaged and the gear lever is moved into neutral: at traffic lights for instance. This all helps the MINI Cooper D Countryman ALL4 to be the cleanest 4x4 in its class emitting 129 g/km which compares to 137 g/km for a 1.5 diesel Nissan QASHQAI.
MINI quote a theoretical fuel consumption figure of 64.2 mpg on the extra urban cycle. Overall in very wintry conditions, we achieved according to the fuel computer around 37 mpg, which is probably not too bad considering the conditions and bearing in mind that the car had not been fully run in.
Overall we feel it is a commendable diesel engine, which suits the MINI Countryman and as long as you keep the revs up it never felt lacking in power.
How It Drove - Ride and Handling
MINI afficionados will be pleased to know that the Countryman has not lost any of its excellent driving dynamics, well maybe a little - but the MINI Countryman is heavier and has a higher centre of gravity. The superb go-kart style handling is still there, surprisingly neutral with little body roll and the steering is precise and perfectly weighted.
In normal conditions the MINI Countryman ALL4 is front wheel drive, but when any slip is detected on the front wheels, or if the car is being driven enthusiastically, an electro-magnetic clutch, located on the rear axle, engages drive to the rear wheels to improve traction. To enable this imperceptible change of the driven wheels, a propeller shaft from the front axle is driven constantly and is ready to direct drive forces from the front axle to the rear immediately. The amount of power fed to the rear wheels is infinitely variable between one and 100 per cent, depending upon the driving conditions.
Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) allows controlled slip through the driven wheels to aid moving off on loose sand or deep snow. DTC is a standard feature on the two ALL4 models and the front-wheel drive MINI Cooper S Countryman, and is also available as an option for the other models. When the stability system is deactivated (in DSC Off mode) an electronic locking function for the front axle differential comes into play. In tight corners, it brakes a spinning wheel as required to reduce slip and enhance handling. Known as Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC), this system enhances the car’s traction without adversely affecting its steering properties.
In rural Devon we suffered with some of the worse pre-Christmas snow we have faced in many years, so it was a good test of the four wheel drive system. It certainly worked but the all year tyres really did not help with traction, so we did not really venture much further than our track. The feature we would have liked to have seen is Hill Descent which worked so well on the Land Rover Freelander we were driving in icy conditions a few weeks before. Hill Descent allows controlled descent of inclines, especially on snow and ice, simply select Hill Descent and take your feet off everything - it certainly helps to reduce the risk of skidding.
In summary, you would not get too far off the beaten track but it all feels reassuring in inclement weather.
MINI Countryman Road Test Data
|Model Reviewed||MINI Countryman|
|Performance (manufacturers data)|
|0 - 62 mph||11.6 seconds|
|Top Speed||112 mph|
|CO2 Emissions (NEDC Figures)||g/km|
|Economy (NEDC Figures)|
|Extra Urban||60.1 mpg|
|Euro NCAP Rating||TBA|
|Warranty||3 years / Unlimited miles|
|Price (when tested on the 24/12/10)||£19,875|