Countryman to double sales
Mini Australia is attempting to capitalise on the SUV sales boom, having launched its secondgeneration Countryman with ultra-competitive specification that the brand believes will help more than double its sales and lead it to become the top-selling bodystyle.
The F60-generation Countryman has been tagged as the final new model switch for Mini’s ‘core’ five-bodystyle range, which also comprises the three-door hatchback, five-door hatch, convertible and Clubman, and it has ascended to become a critical growth model that is tipped to almost double sales this year.
A four-tier line-up includes the $39,900 – plus on-road costs – Countryman three-cylinder turbo petrol, $43,900 Countryman D four-cylinder turbo-diesel, $46,500 Countryman S with four-cylinder turbo petrol and $51,500 Countryman SD with a more powerful version of the entry diesel.
For the first time, an automatic transmission has been made standard – sixspeed in Countryman, eight-speed in D, S and SD – while only the latter range flagship has all-wheel drive capability.
Despite a simplified range – Mini cited a low take-up rate for the allpaw S as the reason for it being ditched from the range – the brand listed enhanced specification and a roomier and more practical cabin as core reasons for its expectation that sales would soar.
Speaking at the national media launch of the new Countryman in Canberra last week, Mini Australia general sales manager Tony Sesto said the Mini SUV was now tipped to outsell the three-door and five-door hatchbacks individually.
“It definitely could become the bestselling Mini if you look at the trend of where the market is going and the strength of SUVS,” he said.
“We expect it to be the top-seller for us this year if you split the three and five-door hatchback. We think this is going to be a big seller for us.”
Last year Mini sold 2429 units of the Mini Hatch, split 1304 five-door and 1125 three-door, while only 530 sales were recorded for the Countryman.
While Mr Sesto said sales figures were something he could not comment on, the numbers indicated the new Mini SUV had been tipped to more than double sales to beyond 1300 units this year.
With the Mini brand up 12.7 percent in 2016 to 3765 units, Mr Sesto said with the brand new Countryman the company expected that growth to continue.
Premium models accounted for eight percent of the small SUV segment in 2015, but that extended to 11 percent in 2016.
Of the sales split, the S has been dubbed the ‘sweet spot in the range for product substance’ and together with the SD has still been tipped to account for more than 50 percent of sales for the first time.
Mini Australia product planning manager Daniel Silverwood said although the original model played a very strategic role for the brand, it was pegged as only a second or third family car in the household.
“Many of the customers who considered a Countryman previously and didn’t go onto buy it gave us that feedback in a survey – that they required more space and practicality than what we could offer,” he said.
“Previously the size of our vehicles huddled our range within a small category, so we had R60 being the previous Countryman, R55 being the previous Clubman, that were similar in size to the current hatch.
“Back then it was often the second or third car in the household.
“When we introduced the latestgeneration Clubman in 2015 it was a larger vehicle, more comfort and more space, and it could become the first car in the household.
“Our expectation with the Countryman is it can be the first car in the household. It’s built for every occasion.”
TREE CHANGE: Mini’s Countryman is back in its second generation, bigger, betterequipped and with more efficient engines.