New Countryman a big jump for Mini market

  • All-new longer, wider, Mini Countryman
  • Five adult seats, ‘premium cabin ambience
  • First Mini with all-wheel plug-in hybrid drive
  • Satnav, Bluetooth, emergency call, on all models
BIGGEST MINI YET: It's the new Countryman, the first Mini with hybrid drive. Image: Mini/BMW UK
BIGGEST MINI YET: It’s the new Countryman, the first Mini with hybrid drive available alongside diesel and petrol engines. Handsome little beast… Image: Mini/BMW UK

OXFORD, England – The new Mini Countryman, its maker says, is the biggest and most versatile model yet in the brand’s 57-year history. So, what’s it got…

Well, it’s marginally longer and wider, and has “a genuinely premium ambience”, electric touch-free opening for the tail hatch and unique options – among them a folding picnic bench on the lip of the boot.

This Countryman will now be the largest Mini on the market, its length extended by 7.5cm, its width by three cm.

TAKE A SEAT: Maybe for the US market, but the Countryman can be fitted with a boot-sill padded seat for tailgate parties. Image: BMW / Mini
TAKE A SEAT: Maybe for the US market, but the Countryman can be fitted with a boot-sill padded seat for tailgate parties. Image: BMW / Mini
BIGGEST MINI YET: It's the new Countryman, the first Mini with hybrid drive. Image: Mini/BMW UK
SEE THE LIGHTS! It’s the new Mini Countryman and if you know your Minis you’ll have noticed the model-specific shape of the headlights. Image: Mini/BMW UK

“The Countryman’s on- and off-road ability is readily apparent,” Mini says, “through fusing familiar Mini styling with the tough look of a crossover through greater ground clearance, large wheel arches and short overhangs.”

TURBOCHARGED HYBRID

WIth a devastating report on industrial and automotive air pollution over Britain released today (Oct 26 2016) it’s good news that the Countryman Mini Cooper SE Countryman ALL4 will be offered as a plug-in hybrid.

This car will have a turbocharged petrol engine and an electric motor, reducing possible fuel consumption to 2.1 litres/100km while being capable of 0-100km/h in 6.9sec.

Other models will have an all-new range of engines from the latest Mini TwinPower Turbo generation, also offering not only excellent performance but also fuel-efficiency: variously 102-144kW and 220-400Nm, 0-100 in (a best of) 7.2sec and fuel consumption as low as 4.54 litres/100km.

READ MORE Carman’s Corner features on the Mini

Manual and Steptronic gearboxes and front- or all-wheel drive can be commissioned, the latter, Mini says, “further refined for increased driving agility and efficiency”.

Variously across the Countryman range, standard items now include satnav, Bluetooth, cruise control and post-crash automatic emergency call. There’s also a wide range of colour and trim personalisation and option packs, among them, for the first time, a 22cm touchscreen to control satnav and multimedia.

BIGGEST MINI YET: It's the new Countryman, the first Mini with hybrid drive. Image: Mini/BMW UK
READY FOR THE ROUGH STUFF: The new Mini Countryman with bash plates in place for off-roading. It’s also the first Mini with hybrid drive. Image: Mini/BMW UK

Prices in the UK (Oct 2016) start at the equivalent of R382 000 and rise over the eight models to R502 600 though no price is yet available for the hybrid model.
Each has headlights (diode lights an option) that differ from all other models as well as aluminium roof-rails.

The hallmark Mini central instrument unit is on the Countryman surrounded by an LED ring that illuminates according to driving situations through feedback from the controls. Power adjustments for the front seats is also an option; the rear accommodation has three distinct seats, their backrests individually foldable..

The boot volume is 450 litres; fold each of the three seat seats will increase this to 1309 litres 220 litres more than the previous model.

The hybrid has three drive modes: Auto, Max and Save Battery, each on call by the driver, though full electric drive will take the car to only 80km/h unless MAX eDRIVE is invoked, in which case 125km/h is possible.

The high-voltage battery pack is housed under the slightly raised rear seat, as is the 35-litre fuel tank. The socket for the charging cable is under a flap near the left-hand side scuttle.

PLAYING OFF-ROAD: All-wheels drive versions of the new Countryman come with this cute graphic to measure your off-tar performance. Image: BMW / Mini
PLAYING OFF-ROAD: All-wheels drive versions of the new Countryman come with this cute graphic to measure your off-tar performance. Image: BMW / Mini

A cute new Mini feature is the Country Timer: as soon as the car encounters demanding terrain the type and extent of the challenge are detected and shown graphically on the central instrument cowl.

The driving situation is analysed and owners can progress from Street Cruiser to Cliff Champ (which sounds a trifle hairy!)” , and the icon of the moving Mini morphs gradually into a Mini monster truck.

Sweet!

Dear reader, there are many more features variously available for the new Countryman. May The Corner suggest you take a look at the UK’s Mini website which also has a lot more information about and images of the new car…

But meanwhile, The Corner has been told the cars will start arriving around March 2017, though the Mini One will not be included and the diesel – if at all – will be much later, possibly September or October.

BIGGEST MINI YET: It's the new Countryman, the first Mini with hybrid drive. Image: Mini/BMW UK
BIGGEST MINI YET: It’s the new Countryman, the first Mini with hybrid drive and all-wheel drive available on all models. Image: Mini/BMW UK
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