Herald Express (Torbay, Brixham & South Hams Edition)



- COLIN GOODWIN Motors Editor

THE Mini badges on this car only describe the brand, not the vehicle’s size – because there is nothing small about it at all.

We’re driving the new Mini Coun- tryman this week and it is a huge, 130mm longer than the outgoing model and 60mm taller.

While you would have called the last Countryman a crossover, this new one is really an SUV.

I overhead a colleague say that it is in fact almost as long as the original Range Rover.

Mini has just started production of electric Countrymen in BMW’s factory in Leipzig, but for now we’re driving a petrol version of the car. Incidental­ly, this is first Mini to be built in Germany.

Three models are available, starting with the Countryman C which is powered by a three-cylinder turbo engine that produces 168bhp.

Next there’s the S All4 with a fourcylind­er 2.0-litre engine pushing out 215bhp.

Finally, the daddy is the John Cooper Works with the same 2.0-litre motor but wound up to 296bhp.

I like to drive entry models first so we’re in a Countryman C.

Its basic price is £28,500 which is not bad for a family car that’s pretty spacious.

Naturally, being a press test car it has had the options book thrown at it so our model has wound up carrying an extra £11,800 worth of kit on it, and much of it you could easily do without.

The exterior of this third-generation Countryman doesn’t really shout Mini at me. The styling is now a lot more boxy with squared wheel arches and a larger front grille.

At the back there are new LED tail lamps that you can customise in case you don’t like the Union Jack style or you think they’re not really applicable to a car made by a German company in Germany.

Although you could almost fit an original 1959 Mini inside this 2024 iteration, the interior of the new Countryman feels a lot more Minilike than the outside.

For starters there’s the large round infotainme­nt touchscree­n in the centre of the dashboard that apes the original Mini’s speedo.

I was about to have a moan about there being no instrument­s right in front of you in the driver’s seat and that you have to look at the screen to see how fast you’re going, but I then remembered that it didn’t seem to bother me in the six original Minis I’ve owned over the years.

Mind you, back then the roads were quieter and the Minis I owned were a lot slower. The screen itself is round – unlike in previous Minis in which a rectangula­r screen is fitted to a circular frame.

The whole of the Countryman’s interior, including this screen, is very cool and stylish and is one of the car’s great appeals.

Given the SUV size of it there’s loads of space inside the car with the bonus of having rear seats that can be slid back by 130mm.

The boot is generous, too, holding 460 litres. That’s more than the Nissan Qashqai can hold and that motor is very much a direct rival.

People at Mini often trot out the comment that their cars have ‘go-kart handling’.

That’s probably because it’s a good marketing line and they haven’t driven a go-kart.

This Mini certainly doesn’t handle like one. Too heavy, too big. It’s surefooted enough though, and for an SUV has quite good reactions. The ride is comfortabl­e, too.

The compact SUV class in which the latest Mini Countryman sits is full of contenders.

A great many are very bland and don’t have the personalit­y of this one. That might be enough to tempt customers in the direction of the Mini that really isn’t really mini at all.

For an SUV this Mini has quite good reactions and the ride is


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The Countryman is big... inside and out
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