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2015 MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 Review

A good way to ensure your brand’s products find homes in many Canadian driveways is to offer a big selection of relevant products. From a brand once known for a handful of models big on being small, MINI has expanded to offer just that: a lineup that started with the MINI Cooper and Cooper Cabriolet has now grown to include coupes, roadsters, mini-minivans, and the subject of this story, the MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4.

What is a 2015 MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4
The 2015 MINI Cooper S Countryman All4 is the just-updated version of the brand’s miniature crossover, featuring subtle styling tweaks and more connectivity to drive improved value. With turbocharged power, more space than smaller MINI models and all-wheel drive for all-season, all-surface traction, the Countryman is big on practicality, space, and confidence. Where unique styling and MINI brand attributes like agile handling and uniqueness are concerned, the Countryman is worth a look.

2015 Mini Countryman S All4 Pricing and Specs
In “S” (that’s MINI-speak for the bigger engine and supporting upgrades), and “ALL4” (which means all-wheel drive) guise, the tested Countryman variant started just shy of $30,000, with the optional 6-speed automatic bumping the price by another $1,300. Numerous option packages fitted to the tester loaded it up with a laundry-list of equipment that pushed the as-tested price to $36,170.

Driving the 2015 MINI Countryman S All4
Test-drivers will note good all-around visibility, easy entry and exit, a driving position that’s commanding and on the tall side, a tight turning circle, and adequate room for four adults. It’s an easy machine to load up, hop in, and maneuver in tight spaces. The deep cargo area behind the rear seats will prove adequate for a four-person road trip’s worth of gear, and the rear seats can be folded down to accommodate larger items as needed. 

The fitted 1.6L turbo engine is a MINI staple, making 181 horsepower sent to an optional 6-speed automatic with paddle shift. Manual-mode shifts come after a delay and are executed slowly and without rev-matching, so driving enthusiasts will likely opt for the available 6-speed manual.

It’s not a quiet engine to be sure, although the on-demand low- and mid-range torque hits with pleasing force, and the turbocharger can be heard occasionally with a delightful array of whistling, spooling sounds that probably won’t get old.

Steering is firm, heavy, and locked-on (even at highway speeds), which adds directional stability and confidence. Should snow and slush pass beneath, this bolted-down steering calibration will provide added peace of mind that the Countryman will continue heading straight, rather than playing steering-wheel tug-of-war. 

Handling is a little on the mischievous side, thanks to the heavy steering backed by a quick steering ratio. Added up, the Countryman responds with stability and needs only small steering inputs to set it darting around winding roads, where it feels surprisingly comfortable. 

Enabling that sort of handling in a tall vehicle with some ground clearance means the suspension in the Countryman S is set tightly, and that ride quality can suffer at times on rougher surfaces. The suspension is tuned to feel soft and refined around the edges -- sharp, sequential bumps are filtered nicely, and even the steering is isolated nicely to prevent it from feeling like its getting knocked around on washboard surfaces or potholes. It feels about as comfortable and robust as this firm a suspension is going to get. The ride can become busy and noisy, and if you frequently travel on rougher roads be sure to visit some on your test drive to see for yourself. 

Inside and Out of the 2015 MINI Countryman 
Outside, fans of the MINI brand will feel right at home with the Countryman’s new grille treatment and expanded use of chrome. All signature MINI styling elements are alive and well here, and the unit looks true to its heritage. It’s a cheerful-looking, playful, and unique cabin that cohesively uses key styling elements to create a one-of-a-kind atmosphere.

Upscale materials, chrome accenting and toggle switch control arrays are used to manipulate things like the new LED fog-lights, mood-lighting, Sport mode, and so on. The giant centre-mounted speedometer houses the vivid display screen, fitted in the tester with navigation and a slick central-command system with control knob that functions just like iDrive from parent company, BMW. At-hand storage facilities around the driver are above average, including two proper cupholders and deep, generous door-mounted storage pockets.

Comparing the 2015 MINI Countryman
Shoppers checking out the market for a compact AWD mini-ute should check out the MINI Countryman S alongside the Buick Encore, Nissan JUKE, Fiat 500L, and upcoming Fiat 500X. For nothing-quite-like-it styling and above-average sportiness, the Countryman S should satisfy as MINI’s most practical and confident machine yet.

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