SPECS AND VERDICT Model Engine
egardless, get going and the motor proves itself to be a smooth operator and, thankfully, the extra doors and weight don’t deter from the now customary sporty ride.
Keeping up with traffic isn’t a problem and in Sport, you’ll be leaving them at the lights. It’s fun to throw about and it changes direction like a fly buzzing over a plate of fries. Again, it feels nimble (it has singlejoint spring strut front axle and multilink rear axle) and much like the three-door. The six-speed automatic, sending 192 horses to the front, is snappy and always in the right gear, however, there is a fair amount of torque steer to contend with.
The paddle shifters add to the driving fun, while the steering is sharp and precise and wants you to attack the corners. Since there’s lots of grip here, you’ll no doubt oblige. Go over the top and the generally unintrusive stability control will keep you safe. If not, at least it’s comforting to know it has front, side and window airbags. Curbing those fancy 16in wheels would be a shame, as would nicking the beautiful blue paintwork our tester came with (the bonnet stripes set it off nicely, but they’ll cost you). In fact, go crazy on the spec sheet and you could have a head-up display, satellite-navigation, Bluetooth hands-free phone connection, a digital radio and a USB socket, but you’ll need deep pockets for the extra bits and bobs.
Previously, if you wanted all the style, quality and quirkiness of a Mini but needed the practicality and space to go with it, your only option was the bloated Countryman.
Now, this more grown-up fivedoor hatch is here and although it’s bigger, deep down it’s still a cheeky little runabout. Nothing offers a sense of fun and character quite like this does, but you have to break the bank for the privilege.
It’s fun to throw about and it changes direction like a fly buzzing over a plate of fries. It feels nimble