Advertisement
BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Advertisement feature
WELCOME TO HYUNDAI’S HAPPINESS MACHINE
View the latest news
Car Review

Mini Countryman electric review

£42,025 - £56,125
710
Published: 05 Mar 2024
Advertisement
The Countryman goes green... by getting bigger and (much) heavier. Quick, distract yourself with the interior!

Good stuff

Clever and imaginative interior, feels well screwed together

Bad stuff

It’s unavoidably heavy, exterior design isn’t exactly easy on the eye

Overview

What is it?

The Mini Countryman is the model in the New Mini line up matrix that inched the original ‘mini’ idea ever closer to something maximal. Now its third incarnation has arrived. And you can’t miss it. This one is the biggest Mini ever, 130mm longer than the outgoing model and 60mm taller, an increase that challenges the idea of the Countryman as crossover and delivers what’s effectively a Mini SUV. Now, for the first time, it’s also gone electric.

So what do we get, range-wise?

We’ve already driven the JCW quasi hot hatch, and three combustion-engined Countrymans (Countrymen?) are imminent: you can read about those over here. But as we say the big news is the arrival of the first fully electric Countryman - in E and SE All4 versions - costing £41,500 and £46,600 respectively.

Advertisement - Page continues below

Both are powered by the same 65kWh battery pack, making 201bhp in the single-motor, rear-drive Countryman E, or 309bhp in the dual motor, all-wheel drive SE All4. They deliver a range of 287 or 269 miles respectively. Classic, Exclusive and Sport are your trim levels.

Busy sector, this one, right?

No kidding. The new electric Countryman arrives as an increasing number of families take the EV plunge. At the smaller, more affordable end of the scale you’ll find the BYD Atto 3, Peugeot e-2008, the new (daftly named) Smart #1, Vauxhall Mokka, and Volvo EX30.

Go larger and spend a bit more and you’ll bring the Audi Q4 e-tron, Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia EV6, Mercedes EQA, Nissan Ariya, the excellent new Renault Scenic E-Tech, Skoda’s impressive Enyaq iV, the best-selling Tesla Model Y, Toyota bZ4X, Volvo XC40 Recharge (now renamed EX40 of course) and VW ID.4 into play. Did we miss any out? Oh yes, the BMW X1, to which the Mini is closely related.

Clearly, this is a fast-moving landscape, one that’s going to become more viciously competitive (and politically charged) over the next few years as the established players are challenged by anonymous-sounding but affordable Chinese newbies. The electric Mini Countryman aims to outwit them all in terms of digitalisation, connectivity and, perhaps most importantly, personality.

Advertisement - Page continues below

Does Mini’s fundamentally fun persona survive the transition to electric?

Despite the Countryman’s increase in stature, we expect Mini – in all its forms – to maintain the original’s perennially glass half-full persona. Design-wise, the Countryman has a job on its hands transferring beloved Mini design cues onto this plus-size template.

The front end, like many other things in the wider BMW Group product portfolio, is not subtle. All versions of the Countryman get enlarged, more expressive headlights with three different daytime running light signatures. The rear vertical light clusters are also configurable so you can ditch the previous gen’s Union Jack motif if you want.

Whichever mode you choose, the lights start and end with a welcome and goodbye animation. All new Minis entertain notions of being a friend as well as a car, but the electric Countryman is even keener to debunk the idea that EVs are merely big smartphones on wheels. It might look kinda Minecraft blocky but it’s impressively slippery, with a drag coefficient of 0.26.

There’s not much to differentiate the electric versions from the combustion equivalents. You get the same swollen wheelarches and chunky body sides. That otherwise superfluous contrast colour panel on the C-pillar helps distract the eye from the visual mass.

As ever, the options list is extensive. Anything is possible, not all of it strictly in line with design director Oliver Heilmer’s desire for “charismatic simplicity”.

Note also that the Countryman’s design varies depending on the trim level. There’s no exterior chrome, though. Wherever possible, the new Mini ethos is all about recyclability and sustainability. So pointless frippery is out.

What's the verdict?

The Countryman’s cabin is roomy, imaginatively designed, packed with tech, but also blessedly easy to use

If we were to get philosophical here, we’d question how compatible the big push for sustainability is with the new Countryman’s ballooning proportions. Or the Mini’s treasured fun-to-drive character. Clearly, a two-tonne Mini almost-SUV isn’t going to handle like a go-kart, but the Countryman SE All4 is surprisingly entertaining to drive all the same. More importantly, it’s good to use and efficient the rest of the time. Which is more relevant in the real world.

But it’s the interior that’s the USP here, an area of increasing importance as the shift to electrification gathers pace. The Countryman’s cabin is roomy, imaginatively designed, packed with tech, but also blessedly easy to use. All in all, it’s a highly likeable, desirable car.

The Rivals

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine

subscribe