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Mini Countryman news - Mini Countryman: is it any good? - 2010

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The pre-launch hype had it that Mini had
miraculously invented a whole new species of vehicle. But privately, the
Countryman’s designers say they simply made something for people who want a car
that looks like a Mini but need more space. And in that respect it’s a success.

The Countryman’s engineers say they made a
car that drives like a Mini. Unfortunately, they couldn’t.

Because it’s higher than a normal Mini and
has more supple suspension, the Countryman rolls more in corners and feels
comparatively soggy. Oh, it’s a lot better than most crossovers, but the agility
of the normal Mini hatch is just a distant memory.

And the extra height and
width and complication increase the drag and weight. Sure enough, even the Cooper S
version doesn’t have the get-up-and-go you’d expect. It has a bit of a drink
problem, too.

Ah, but what about the 4x4 version? Well yes, for an extra grand or so
you can have drive to the back wheels, too. The test car came with that box
ticked. It doesn’t alter the look or the height of the car, so you have to go
badge-spotting. It’s good for powering out of wet roundabouts, no doubt. (Can’t
verify this because our test drive was dry.) And, if you fitted all-season
tyres, it would be reassuring if you live somewhere snowy. But really the 4WD option
doesn’t do enough to turn the Countryman into either a great on-roader or a
great off-roader. 

Whether it’s the 2WD or the 4WD, the
Countryman’s long-travel suspension means it’s got a pretty supple ride.
Especially over crappy town streets. And the faux-SUV styling - wheel-arch
protectors and chunky bumpers - mean you’ll be well insulated against car
park knocks.

So it’s going to be the car
for the image-conscious urbanite with kids. Or someone who lives up a farm
track and needs a bit of extra ground clearance. But not the person who loves

Paul Horrell, Consultant Editor of TopGear magazine

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