Town & Country (Philippines) - - CONTENTS / AUGUST DEPARTMENTS - By Pierre A. Calasanz

The new MINI Coun­try­man.

In one of my ear­li­est and fond­est child­hood mem­o­ries, I’m stand­ing in the back of my dad’s clas­sic 1960s Mini, my lit­tle arms clutch­ing the driver’s seat tightly. The front win­dows are rolled down and as the wind rushes across my face, my four-year-old self is shout­ing “Faster! Faster!” into my dad’s left ear. Sadly, we didn’t have the car much longer af­ter that, as he grudg­ingly sold it to a very per­sis­tent rel­a­tive. But the good thing about mem­o­ries is that you can al­ways make more of them; the all-new MINI Coun­try­man prom­ises to do just that.

When the first-gen­er­a­tion MINI Coun­try­man de­buted in 2010, it was met with skep­ti­cism, as many rev­o­lu­tion­ary prod­ucts seem to do, but it didn’t take long be­fore MINI’s loyal fan base came around. “We were pos­i­tively sur­prised. We were con­fi­dent in the car, of course, but we weren’t ex­pect­ing that strong a fol­low­ing,” re­vealed Peter Medalla, head of MINI Asia, at the Philip­pine launch of the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Coun­try­man.

The sec­ond you lay your eyes on the car­maker’s top of­fer­ing in the premium com­pact seg­ment, you’re im­me­di­ately sure of one thing: it’s big­ger than any MINI you can re­mem­ber. The first Coun­try­man was al­ready huge by the brand’s stan­dards, but this one is 20 cen­time­ters longer and just a lit­tle bit wider, by three cen­time­ters to be ex­act. With the new chas­sis con­fig­u­ra­tion, the car can now right­fully claim to be a proper five-seater. Be­sides the in­creased width and legroom, there’s also more space in the trunk. In­ter­est­ingly, it’s in the back where most of use­ful new fea­tures are found. In the MINI Cooper Sd Coun­try­man, an au­to­matic elec­tric tail­gate con­trol, which al­lows you to open and close the tail­gate with the touch of a but­ton, comes as stan­dard. (It’s an op­tion on the Cooper d model.) When it’s open, you’ll find the clev­erly de­signed Pic­nic Bench that pops out of the trunk to con­ve­niently pro­vide com­fort­able seat­ing for two. In the U.K., where camp­ing is a big pas­time, an­other prime op­tion is the tent that sets up on the roof of the car.

While much will be made of the Coun­try­man’s grow­ing size, by all ap­pear­ances it’s still dis­tinc­tively a MINI. “What­ever hap­pens, de­sign-wise, it will only be an evo­lu­tion,” says Medalla. “even look­ing at it from the far cor­ner of your eye, you know it’s a MINI.” All the de­sign el­e­ments are there: the round head­lamps, the curvy con­tours of the front con­trasted by the nearly flat roof, short front and rear over­hangs, and large wheel arches. From the driver’s seat, the view looks quite fa­mil­iar, as MINI is known for of­fer­ing ex­cel­lent vis­i­bil­ity from the front to the sides, thanks to the care­fully po­si­tioned roof pil­lars, tall wind­screen, and big win­dows. It’s also while you’re at the wheel that the source of joy be­hind own­ing a MINI comes out: it’s an ab­so­lute blast to drive. “We have very pas­sion­ate en­gi­neers in the com­pany, and they want to main­tain the same driv­ing dy­nam­ics in ev­ery MINI model, from the three-door to the largest. Whether it’s

the Club­man or the Coun­try­man,” says Medalla. “We may veer away in terms of looks, but we’ll never veer from what MINI has al­ways epit­o­mized, of be­ing a fun drive, hav­ing that ex­cit­ing, go-kart feel.”

In the Philip­pines, the Coun­try­man is avail­able in a choice of two diesel en­gines: the 150hp ver­sion with 330Nm of torque for the Cooper D model, and a 190hp ver­sion crank­ing out 400Nm for the Cooper SD. Ob­vi­ously, the lat­ter goes a bit faster, 220 kilo­me­ters per hour ver­sus 208. But if it’s fuel econ­omy you’re chas­ing, the Cooper D wins, get­ting 22.22 kilo­me­ters per liter against the Cooper SD’s 20.83. If diesel isn’t your cup of tea, just wait a few months, as the gaso­line-pow­ered John Cooper Works en­gine is al­ready wait­ing in the wings.

Which­ever Coun­try­man model you choose, Medalla is con­fi­dent that it’s go­ing to be “the per­fect com­pan­ion to your new ad­ven­ture. It’s all about en­rich­ing your life ex­pe­ri­ences, adding more mem­o­ries. That’s what the Coun­try­man is all about.” 5th Av­enue Cor­ner 26th Street, Boni­fa­cio Global City; 856.7555; 0917.814.7216;;

“We MAy veer AWAy IN TerMS Of lOOkS, BUT We’ll Never veer frOM WhAT MINI hAS Al­WAyS ePIT­O­MIzeD, Of Be­INg A fUN DrIve, hAv­INg ThAT ex­CIT­INg, gO-kArT feel.”

ALL GRown up From top: the MInI Coun­try­man in the Cooper S and Cooper SD ver­sions; the in­te­ri­ors feel more lux­u­ri­ous and spa­cious, with ex­tra space in the rear; the col­or­ful cen­ter con­sole adds a fun touch.

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