A cut above the rest

Tweaks mean SUV of­fers bet­ter ride qual­ity and per­for­mance

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Motors -

If you are get­ting a faint sense of déjà vu, it is be­cause the Coun­try­man was only given a few tweaks be­fore this lat­est re­vi­sion.

It is much the same story once again, with MINI bolti ng on a few good­ies that were, up un­til now, un­avail­able on this car.

You will find lighter al­loy wheels, for bet­ter ride qual­ity and per­for­mance, and a slightly re­vised front end – although you might need to put the old and the new side by side to no­tice the dif­fer­ences. The clues are in the light clus­ters.

LOOKS AND IM­AGE

The Coun­try­man has been frowned upon by some for its very un-MINI-like looks, but these days MINI is a brand rather than a spe­cific car, so the ex­ec­u­tives are stick­ing to their guns as far as aes­thet­ics are con­cerned.

Ar­guably, the Coun­try­man has some of the best pro­por­tions of any cur­rent MINI, and while i t hardly looks cute, it does look stylish and up­mar­ket.

SPACE AND PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY

This is also the most practi- cal MINI, with space for four adults to stretch out a bit into un­ex­pected leg room.

The seats are quite short un­der the thigh, but there are Isofix child seat mounts and a de­cent glove box to add prac­ti­cal­ity to the in­te­rior.

Do not put too much stock in MINI’s mar­ket­ing re­gard­ing the boot though, be­cause while it is un­doubt­edly big­ger than its hatch­back equiv­a­lent, it is still a long stone’s throw short of the class lead­ers.

When it comes to pushchairs and car­rycots, you might have to get creative.

BE­HIND THE WHEEL

The lighter wheels on this model i nevitably make i t eas­ier for the sus­pen­sion to re­act and make bumps just a tiny bit smoother, although with­out a back-to-back test there is no per­cep­ti­ble in­crease in re­spon­sive­ness at the ac­cel­er­a­tor pedal.

There is some­thing strange afoot with the steeri ng t hough, which has a dis­con­cert­ingly elas­tic re­sis­tance around the straigh­ta­head.

It dis­solves into nicely di­rect, ac­cu­rate and con­sist- ent i nputs once you push through the ini­tial mud­di­ness.

It is a nice car to drive, strik­ing a good bal­ance bet ween body con­trol and com­fort and, with the diesel en­gine up ahead of you, there is an in­her­ently re­laxed char­ac­ter that suits the over­all pack­age.

VALUE FOR MONEY

As a fam­ily car, the Coun­try­man is pretty ques­tion­able value, sim­ply be­cause the boot is too small for the price.

The op­tion packs get ex­pen­sive, too, so i f you are plumb­ing the depths of the ac­ces­sories lists, keep an eye on the bot­tom line.

It is only fair to say though that, for some buy­ers, only a MINI will do.

Those driv­ers will find a like­able all-rounder with strong resid­ual val­ues that make fi­nance pretty af­ford­able.

WHO WOULD BUY ONE?

A fam­ily look­ing for a sec­ond car to run the kids around town with­out too much lug­gage in tow will like this car very much.

It feels a cut above the more util­i­tar­ian op­tions out there and can be cus­tomised to taste thanks to an im­pres­sive op­tions list.

That last rea­son is why MINI ex­pects lots of new par­ents to switch from a MINI hatch to a Coun­try­man.

But, given that hun­dreds of thou­sands of Coun­try­mans ( or should t hat be Coun­try­men?) have found homes across the globe so far, it is safe to say that who­ever wants one will prob­a­bly just go ahead and buy one.

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