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2011 MINI Cooper Countryman Review

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Michel Deslauriers
A Cooper for anti-conformist families
A MINI crossover might seem like a sin, just like when Porsche decided to develop the Cayenne SUV. But let’s face it, the brand cannot continue being sustainable by selling miniscule yet fun-to-drive hatchbacks. So, spawning more models in the MINI brand has no choice but to make sense.

The Countryman has just arrived, and it’s already selling at about a third of combined Cooper Hatch, Clubman and Convertible models. MINI’s new crossover is bigger in every dimension than all its aforementioned family members. It’s actually very similar in size to the also-new Nissan Juke, yet there’s more space inside, especially in the back seat.

The Countryman has just arrived, and it’s already selling well. (Photo: Matthieu Lambert/

Open the rear door and sit down on one of the individual seats; we’re amazed at how much space is found back there, and we assume you’ll have the same impression. The centre rail can accommodate various accessories available in the MINI dealership, including cupholders, sunglasses holder, ashtray, music player holder, tissue box, etc. A three-passenger bench seat could also be offered at some point, but for now, the Countryman is a 4-person hauler.

Cargo space is rated at 350 litres, a volume that only bests the Juke. Flip down the rear seats, and you get 1,170 litres of space; not that great, but keep in mind that we’re talking about a MINI here. Lots of people don’t need all that space anyway, with kids or without.

The Countryman gets the same powertrain choices as all the other Cooper models. The base trim we’re testing here is equipped with a 1.6-litre 4-banger that cranks out 121 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. Connected to the 6-speed manual, the 0-to-100 km/h marathon is cleared in a leisurely 10.5 seconds; the 188-hp Juke can run circles around the base Countryman, so if you’re concerned about stoplight sprints, you’d better choose the 181-horse, turbocharged S trim instead.

Personally, I don’t mind the base powerplant. I don’t drive in search-and-destroy mode all the time, especially if the kids are on-board. It may be short on firepower, but it’s still a MINI and it’s still fun to drive.

The 1.6-litre engine develops 121 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. (Photo: Matthieu Lambert/
Michel Deslauriers
Michel Deslauriers
Automotive expert