It’s been another busy month of Countryman ownership, with around 800 miles added to the biggest MINI yet. One of the highlights and longest trips this month was a visit to Manchester with my wife. Katherine mainly drives our late first-generation petrol Countryman, so I was really interested in swapping cars to see how she would get on with the latest model. After the 400-mile round trip, the message was ultimately positive. Despite its size, the usual MINI combination of sharp steering, precise handling and a slick six-speed manual gearbox was enough to put a smile on her face, despite wintry weather conditions and stop-start traffic jams. My wife isnít usually a diesel engine fan either, so I was surprised that she highlighted the willing and torquey nature of the 2.0-litre Twinpower turbo diesel powerplant. Praise for the fuel-economy was less of a surprise, with the new Countryman capable of over double the range of our older petrol model.
Talking of mpg, this MINIís larger tank and almost static range in the trip computer, has meant that even with our trip up North, it has visited the diesel pump just twice in the last 30 days. However, itís disappointing that I have not been able to beat the first reportís best of 45mpg. Another of my wifeís driving observations is how much better this Cooper D rides than our Cooper S. Okay, so the 17-inch wheels fitted to the Cooper D are smaller than my sportier Cooper S on 18s, but bigger wheels and sports suspension aside, we both agree that this Countryman is better to drive.
She also thought the build quality has significantly improved compared to our first-generation Countryman. The doors seem better damped, plus thereís more soft-touch plastics for the dashboard and door cards, while the leather on the steering wheel and gear knob is softer and feels more expensive. There were a few concerns around the driving position, though. The extending cushions on the sports seats seem difficult to adjust, and when Katherine did get in a comfortable driving position, she struggled to see some of the details on the instrument panel.
We both love this Countrymanís convenience, with its keyless entry and start and electrically operated tailgate two of our favourite features. However, the latter does seem to have developed a mind of its own. How so? Well, thereís been two occasions where it has randomly opened when parked up. Most recently I had been shopping and stupidly, according to Katherine, left some Christmas presents in the boot. It was only when my neighbour knocked on the door to let me know the boot was open that I realised theyíd been on show to everyone for a few hours! The only thing I can put this down to is sitting on the keyless fob in my pocket, although the car was parked a fair way down the road. Anyway, Iím being more careful with the key fob now, and keeping an eye on the Countryman in case it happens again.
Date arrived 16th August 2017
Fuel economy 65.7mpg (combined) 44.9 mpg (on test)
The 2.0-litre diesel engine is capable of double the driving range of our older petrol-powered Countryman.
The powered tailgate has opened unexpectedly, possibly because the key fob got activated while in my pocket.