I have to admit, I didn’t spec this Countryman, but after a month with this MINI, it hasnít disappointed. I really like the Island Blue paint (a £550 extra) for starters, which I think goes well with the contrasting black roof. And although there are more interesting alloy wheel designs available, those 17-inch Imprint Spoke design wheels (part of the Chili Pack) fill the arches well.
Nowadays, thereís more pressure than ever to get to your destination without getting lost and on time, so Iím pleased my car has the MINI Media (£1,100) and the costly MINI Activity Packs (£3,830), as even after just a month behind the wheel of the biggest MINI, these packs have helped me avoid some serious travel delays. Although the juryís still out on whether the new touchscreen is any easier to operate.
Features I like in particular are the impressively bright LED front and rear lights (part of the Chili option pack that’s also fitted), the keyless entry, power tailgate and the neat fold-out seat in the boot, plus little things like the softer leather on the steering wheel that adds a luxurious touch. It is almost perfect, but with MINIís expansive option list it is very easy to spend more and Iíd be tempted to upgrade to the Technology Pack (£2,090), which includes the punchy Harman Kardon sound system and more practical kit for everyday life, such as a reversing camera and head-up display.
The Countryman and I have covered over 1,000 miles together since my first report and initial thoughts are that despite it being the biggest car ever to carry the MINI badge, on the road it seems to shrink, feeling a lot smaller and MINI-like on the move. How is this possible you might ask? Well, it is the result of its sharp steering, slick six-speed manual transmission and, considering how tall the new Countryman is, the keen handling. The only thing Iím not sure about with the drive, is how unsettled the ride is on the 17-inch alloys, which is at its worst at low speeds, although itís still an improvement on the first-generation Countryman. To go with this Cooper Dís sporty drive is the impressively willing and frugal 148bhp, 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbo diesel engine.
As part of the Activity Pack, this car has got a larger fuel tank, with 10-litres of extra capacity. I was certainly impressed with the 514 miles I got out of the first tank of diesel. And with two children under the age of seven, the extra interior and boot space is very welcome and an improvement over the outgoing first-generation Countryman. Even my wife enjoys getting behind the wheel, although like me, sheís not sure of the over-keen and easily-confused rear parking sensors. Also, a trip to the dealer will be necessary to re-attach the offside rear door rubber thatís somehow become detached. But even so, Iím sure you can tell that Iím very fond of this car already.
Date arrived 16th August 2017
Fuel economy 65.7mpg (combined) 45.6mpg (on test)
The driving experience – it is much more grown up compared to the old car.
The parking sensors are over-keen on occasions.