Snow is thankfully a rare sight in the UK, but after a four-year absence down south, the white stuff made an unwelcome entrance at the start of the end of the year. Snow is a stern test for any vehicle and can change your opinion on a car, but like the rest of my time with this MINI, Iím pleased to say our Countryman passed with flying colours.
Although missing MINIís ALL4 four-wheel drive system, once Iíd cleared a few inches of snow off of the windows, our car was quick to warm up. The heated seats were welcoming and toasty, despite the snow, and the Countryman proved to be reassuring to drive. I think the confidence-inspiring nature is probably down to the 2.0-litre Twin Power turbo diesel engineís character. Willing and torquey when needed, it also proved surprisingly tractable in the slippery conditions, with smooth power delivery. Meanwhile, lots of low down grip meant there was little to no wheelspin from the 17-inch tyres. Parking in a snow-filled isolated car park for a family walk turned out to be no problem for the Countryman. In fact, the only downside I spotted during my drives in the snow, was how badly the 17-inch wheels vibrated on the move when the snow turned to ice. This change coincidently saw the tyre-pressure light appear on the dash. Luckily, a quick check of the tyre pressures and replenishment of air saw this light go out again, thankfully without the cost of an expensive new tyre.
I recently had the chance to drive the latest F55 five-door MINI hatchback in Austria on winter tyres and was amazed at the grip available, even in far snowier conditions than we experienced in the UK. I reckon it would be interesting to try this Countryman on winter rubber, to see if it would be similarly impressive. That said, even with summer tyres fitted, I was perfectly happy with the confidence this MINI gave me.
Seasonal purchases like my sonís new bike have also tested this Countrymanís usefulness. The 40:20:40 split rear seat is practical, and it has a far bigger boot than my wifeís earlier Countryman. Even though it wasnít the biggest bike, I was surprised at how much space it took up and that I still had to fold the 40 and 20 parts of the seat to get it in. The mechanisms to fold the chairs down are a bit fiddly, but I got there in the end.
With the unpredictable weather and shorter trips, youíll be surprised to hear that it hasnít had a notable effect on the fuel economy. Iím still averaging 500 miles to the extended-capacity tank, which equals around 45mpg. In fact, with just a few weeks before this Countryman returns to MINI, Iím beginning to wonder if thereís anything I can do to see an improvement in my fuel figures and get closer to the 65.7mpg combined economy figure claimed by MINI.
Date arrived 16th August 2017
Fuel economy 65.7mpg (combined) 45.3mpg (on test)
Even without ALL4 four-wheel drive, the MINI impressed in the recent snowy conditions.
Am I ever going to be able to improve on this Countryman’s 45mpg economy?