Wow, that came round quickly I thought, when I received the email from MINI headquarters arranging the pick-up of this Countryman Cooper D. Why? Well, this MINI had fitted in so well with the Collinsí family life, that six-months with MINIís largest car had flown by! I did my best to try and think of reasons how I could hold on to the keys, but YE66 RYH was coming up to a year old and it had to be sold, so I arranged collection and the man from MINI came and took it away.
After it had been gone for a few days, I asked myself what I loved about the Countryman? Well, letís start with the styling. To me, the tougher looks really appeal. My favourite parts of the design are the swept-back lights, the sculpted flanks, the more MINI-like rear styling with the large rear light clusters and this particular Countrymanís Island Blue and black paint job. Regular readers will know that I also own a first-generation Countryman and my wife and I really noticed the improvements in interior quality for this car, as well as the extra equipment. The second-generation Countryman has grown too, and the extra interior space is appreciated, mostly by my children. The boot is also bigger and practical enough for everything we needed to carry.
It might have been just a Cooper D diesel, but being a press car, MINI had fitted it with plenty of extras, some which Iíd choose again and some I wouldnít. Firstly, if like me youíre considering buying a new Countryman, choosing the quite costly £2,980 Chili Pack is a no-brainer. Why? Well, I reckon it includes most of the useful kit that I appreciated during my six-months with this car. These included the super-bright LED headlights, comfort access that meant I didnít have to get the keys out of my pocket prior to getting in, those supportive front sports seats that were heated, and the softer-than-standard leather MINI Yours steering wheel. A navigation system is standard on all Countryman models, and another worthwhile option is the media pack, although once again it isnít exactly cheap at £950. It features the better XL Navigation system and enhanced Bluetooth connectivity. Using it over the past six months, I was generally impressed by its choice of route, but it wasnít totally infallible. Other options that made an impression during the time I had this car was the power tailgate and the larger capacity fuel tank that meant a 500-mile range, even if the cost hurt a bit at the pumps. On the flip side, equipment I could have managed without included the picnic bench which folded out of the boot floor and over the rear bumper. A great design, which worked well, but one that I never really had the opportunity to use.
The 2.0-litre Twinpower diesel engine proved to be smooth and frugal too, yet even though the bigger fuel tank delivered a consistent 500-plus mile range, I never got close to the claimed fuel figures of 65.7mpg, with the best achievement of 45mpg. On the road, the driving experience impressed ñ even though the Countryman has most un-MINI-like dimensions ñ and was always fun to drive, with sharp steering, a slick gearchange and body roll kept well under control.
In fact, the only Countryman driving demerit was the ride on the 17-inch Imprint Spoke alloys. Our Countryman never felt totally settled on the move, although it still dealt with poor surfaces better than the first-generation car.
Both my wife and I miss this Countryman so much, that I reckon our Mk1ís days might be numbered.
Date arrived16th August 2017
Fuel economy 58.9/70.6/65.7mpg (combined) 45.2mpg (on test)
The extra interior space and equipment over the old Countryman really appealed.
The hike in price of over £4k compared to the old Countryman is a bitter pill to swallow.