MORE MAXI, LESS MINI
The new Countryman has grown, but it’s also more expensive. Can it justify this growth spurt?
THEY grow up so quickly, don’t they? One day, they’re small, three-door hatchbacks, real handfuls, full of zip and zest … and next thing, they’re all grown up with five-doors, raised ride heights and all-wheel drive.
The problem with growing up is that it’s not always a good thing. The journey into adulthood is often accompanied by the slow shrinking of that playful innerchild persona responsible for much of the irreverence and freespirited fun we enjoy as adults.
The Mini is the perfect case in point. While the current hatch is undoubtedly a more refined and sophisticated vehicle than the tear-about that was the first generation new Mini, much of those initial point-and-squirt, go-kart-like qualities have been discarded. Yes, the 2017 Mini hatch is a better car, but it won’t make you smile like the 2001 version did.
The upside of a growing maturity, on the other hand, is an ability to deal with life’s complexities and accommodate the challenges and baggage that adulthood serves up. And by that I mean actual baggage. When you’re big and have a family of your own, you need a car with space to fit all the kit with which these small humans come. And that’s something the first Countryman offered over its siblings when it was launched in 2010.
A popular seller – 550 000 were sold around the world – the first-generation Countryman wasn’t without its faults, though. Its perceived build quality didn’t quite justify the premium price tag, and spec levels were underwhelming given said asking price. Does this new-generation Countryman, then, offer qualities more balanced and, dare I say, adult in its offering?
Well, it’s certainly more grownup. The new model is 200 mm