|Positives: No other compact crossover looks or feels like it, truly special interior especially with green leather seats, excellent driving dynamics, fun to drive.|
|Negatives: Seats need more surface area and contouring, touchscreen is too small for the size of the frame, painful turbo lag, limited cargo space.|
|Bottom Line: The Countryman Cooper S ALL4 is a distinct crossover/hatchback that won't appeal to everyone due to its reduced practicality. It's a fun, quirky, and uniquely styled vehicle that will elicit smiles wherever it goes, and its deficiencies are easier to forgive, as a result.|
The Countryman Cooper S ALL4 is better to drive than most compact crossovers. The BMW chassis, steering, and suspension all contribute to a great experience that feels nimble and organic. The problem is the lag that rears its ugly head every time you accelerate off the line. The turbo four is quick once things spool up, though.
Ride Quality: The ride quality is definitely on the firm side, but like most Bimmers, the MINI manages to also provide good shock absorption.
Acceleration: 0-60 mph comes in 7.1 seconds, which isn't especially quick for the segment. The Mazda CX-50 2.5 Turbo is quicker by half a second, and the Volvo XC40 is a full second quicker.
Braking: The brakes are strong and progressive. Braking hard can be done with confidence, and there's no grabbiness or mushy pedal travel.
Steering: There's some feedback coming through, and turn-in is pretty quick. It's also on-center and very accurate.
Handling: The body roll is minimal, and you can take the MINI Countryman S ALL4 into turns hard with minimal understeer and very good control.
MINI is one brand that sacrifices a bit of practicality in the name of style, and the tech is one of those things to which we're referring. The round framed LED mood lighting is pretty cool, but the tradeoff is a small infotainment screen when compared to the competition. Also keep in mind that MINI doesn't have Android Auto compatibility, only Apple CarPlay. The nifty buttons and switches are fun to play with and look pretty cool, but they're not the most intuitive controls.
Infotainment System: The screen is 8.8 inches (optional), but it looks pretty small in the giant round frame. Responsiveness is just okay, and the deep inset of the screen makes it harder to use quickly.
Controls: The knobs and buttons for the climate are quite good because of their larger size and easy layout. The switches in the center stack are great to look at but the up or down choice isn't immediately apparent.
MINI is a unique flavor of styling both inside and out, but it's certainly not for everyone. Some might call it cute, others sporty, while most will just see it as quirky. That's not a bad thing in an industry where everything seems like a conventional crossover. The Countryman ALL4 with the Untamed trim is a little bit busy for our liking, but it is a fresh look in a cookie-cutter crowd.
Front: The Cooper S package gives the grille a nice black mesh, and the LED framed headlights look great, way better than the last generation's headlights. The lower fascia's vent and small round foglights look like a tiny mouth and eyes, kinda cute.
Rear: The Union Jack taillights are brilliantly done, and the black trim above the license plate frame, the black taillight trim, and the black lower fascia match the badging nicely.
Profile: We quite like the shape of this attractive crossover, but the Untamed graphics and fender badge are a bit busy for our liking. The black fender trim is a bit overdone (aka, thick), and the wheels are a bit complex.
Cabin: The interior is an interesting conglomeration of trendy bits, from the rounded screens to the wavy illuminated dash trim. It's not for everyone, but the cabin can't be accused of being unoriginal.
The interior comfort also sacrifices a bit in the name of style, but it's not terrible. The seat comfort is interesting because it feels overly firm but keeps you comfortable for long periods of time. The rear seats actually provide more legroom than you'd think upon first glance of the outside. Ergonomics arent as good as, say, the Mazda CX-5, but they're offset by the looks. Ingress and egress are easy thanks to a good ride height that's neither too low, nor too high.
Front Seats: The green leather seats have thick fabric and feel a bit hard. They do, however, become quite accommodating because you don't sink into them.
Rear Seats: The back row provides 37.6 inches of legroom, which is more than the 36.1 inches found in the Audi Q3 and the Lexus NX.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Road noise kept at bay, but there is some noticeable wind noise at higher speeds.
Visibility: The big windows and high roof are great for visibility, but once you go past the C-pillars, things get obstructed by the small side rear window (due to the design of the roof) and the large triple headrests).
Climate: The large vents move air well, and we had no trouble staying cool.
The Countryman was tested by the IIHS but not the NHTSA. It did well in crash tests but did not go through the full gamut of testing. It does get a good set of standard safety features.
IIHS Rating: It scored "good" in all crash tests but got dinged on LATCH ease of use with an "acceptable".
NHTSA Rating: Not tested
Standard Tech: The Countryman comes with Active Driving Assistant with forward collision, pedestrian and lane departure warnings, high beam assist, a rearview camera, and rear Park Distance Control.
Optional Tech: None.
The interior of the Countryman might be the most capacious in the MINI stable, but it's not huge. Storage options for small gear items are limited, and the back isn't the largest in the segment.
Storage Space: The limited space in the front row is confined to cupholders, a couple of small cubbies, and a very tiny armrest. At least the door pockets are decently sized.
Cargo Room: The Countryman has 17.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind row two and 47.6 cubic feet with the seats folded flat. It's not especially big, but the load floor is wide and flat. It's less capacious than the BMW X2 and the Genesis GV70.
The Countryman was pretty efficient for a sporty little crossover. Even in sport mode, we were able to do pretty well in combined driving. We have no doubt EPA estimates could be met by the less heavy-footed.
Observed: 28.4 mpg.
Distance Driven: 122 miles.
The premium audio system from Harman Kardon in the $4,900 Iconic Package is pretty good. The sound is full and crisp. Is it worth the money? Probably not.