Sam Philip20 January 2010

Not so Mini now

Mini’s SUV is finally out in the open. We shall call it the Countryman because, er, that’s what it is called

Mini Countryman

The long-anticipated Mini SUV is here, and it is called the Countryman.

Revealed today ahead of its September launch in the UK, the Countryman looks like... well, a slightly bigger Mini.

See more Mini Countryman pics

It's the first Mini to get four doors, and the first to get four-wheel drive, albeit an option: standard Countrymen (which, surely, must be the plural) remain front-wheel drive.

The ‘ALL4' all-wheel-drive system  - only available on the Cooper S and Cooper D - normally splits torque 50-50 between front and rear wheels, but can bung it all to the rears if things get slippery.

Even so, the Countryman seems to be resolutely road-focused: you can, armed with a sufficiently deep wallet, spec your Mini SUV with lowered sports suspension, 19-inch alloys and the range-topping 181bhp 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine from the Cooper S. In fact, all the launch engines - two diesels and three petrols - have been hauled straight from Mini's existing line-up.

It'll be a lot bigger on the inside than the anti-Tardis Clubman. The Countryman comes with four seats as standard, though the two individual rear chairs can be replaced with a three-seat bench at no cost. Running the length of the interior is a centre rail that Mini calls the, er, Center Rail, to which you can clip an array of moveable storage boxes, allowing you to misplace your mobile phone for days at a time.

Prices are expected to start at around £17,000, a figure that'll head rapidly north once you start ticking Mini's full array of ‘customisation' options. The Countryman also gets a hefty raft of green measures including stop-start technology and brake energy regeneration.

So you've read the spiel and had a good look through the pictures. Go on then: what do you think of the biggest Mini ever?

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