The second-generation 2017 MINI Countryman range will arrive in Australia at the end of March, priced from $39,900 for a three-cylinder turbocharged petrol Cooper model – with all Countryman models now fitted with a standard automatic gearbox.
The previous generation started from $34,150 for a manual Cooper, meaning the new Countryman is almost $6,000 dearer – but the automatic transmission is just one of several significant new standard-fit features that offset the price rise. The better-equipped new Countryman is designed to steal sales in the “fast, trending” compact premium SUV segment, as product manager Daniel Silverwood calls it.
All second-generation Countryman models destined for Australia will be fitted with some advanced safety kit as standard, including active cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, and forward collision warning. That’s in addition to a standard reversing camera – a common feature that wasn’t available on the old shape at all.
Other conveniences that have become standard-fit include navigation, a kick-to-open electric tailgate, 40/20/40 split folding seats, and roof rails.
The entry-level Cooper moves from a four-cylinder engine to the MINI’s 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo – but both power and torque are up. The new motor makes 100kW and 220Nm, up from 90kW and 160Nm in the old shape.
The next rung up is the diesel Countryman Cooper D ($43,900), which makes use of a two-litre turbo making 110kW and 330Nm. A faster diesel, called the Cooper SD ($51,500), adds all-wheel-drive and bumps those outputs to 140kW and 400Nm.
In fact, the fast diesel SD can match the faster petrol model, the Cooper S, on its 7.4 second 0–100km/h time. The Countryman Cooper S makes 141kW and 280Nm from its turbo four-cylinder.
For the new generation the Countryman gets properly large. The new MINI platform has allowed each dimension to be stretched, which will make the biggest MINI a much more practical family car. Product manager Silverwood told Chasing Cars the new Countryman is “MINI in personality, but larger and much more versatile in shape.”
The kids will be happy: legroom in the reclining rear bench is up 50mm, shoulder room increases 50mm and there’s 9mm more headroom back there.
An electric tailgate makes life easier when carrying multiple bags to the car and the kick-to-open tailgate – which opens pretty fast, as we saw at our early demonstration – reveals a much larger boot: the 450 litres is up 100 litres, or 29%, on the old car.
The new interior includes a touchscreen version of BMW’s iDrive system and a variety of interior trim options.
Three unique styling combinations are available: the standard look, called ‘Elegant’, switches to ‘Offroad’ if you option the ALL4 all-wheel-drive system; and John Cooper Works will provide an aesthetic pack called ‘Chili’ from launch.
A proper John Cooper Works Countryman is coming in late 2017, Silverwood says.
And that ALL4 system is actually an entirely new design, taking more feedback from the vehicle’s stability control to provide more grip.
MINI dealers are taking orders now.