North East Post
A Voice of the Free Press
Andy Harris
Motoring and Property Editor
7:31 AM 3rd April 2024

MINI Countryman – UK Launch Review

The modern MINI has been a common sight on our roads for more than twenty years and it has been my pleasure to own a couple and drive many more. A recent trip to the Cotswolds presented me with the opportunity to drive the very latest model.

What is it?

The Countryman moniker has been used by MINI for their largest and most practical model and now we have the third incarnation. Once again, it has got longer by about 10cm over its predecessor and is around 30cm longer than the Mk 1. Some will decry this increase in dimensions, but the overall styling still screams MINI, and the payback is more usable space for both passengers and their chattels.

A fully electric model is due later this year, but for now most Countryman cars are likely to be powered by a familiar 1.5-litre 3-cylinder engine. It’s an agreeable unit with that quirky offbeat note that comes with an odd number of cylinders.

All models come with a seven-speed twin-clutch self-shifting gearbox, a sign of the times as we finally move away from the manual transmission. Changes are smooth, though just occasionally you can catch the gearbox napping when say joining a roundabout in haste, as it decides which gear is best. No paddles are fitted which is a shame.

The BMW generation MINIs have always been renowned for their stylish interiors, but that of the new Countryman takes things to another level. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. In mid-range Exclusive trim, as driven, from the fabric-trimming to the dashboard, to the brown faux leather seat trim, not only is the quality high but the look is both welcoming and stylish.

Black has been cast aside except for the lower echelons of the trim, MINI designers favouring light beige, brown or dusky blue instead as the main interior colours. How refreshing, how lightening and spec the panoramic glass roof too for the best effect.

Centre stage on the dashboard is MINI’s trademark round screen, and the techies have gone to town with its functionality. Press the ‘Experiences’ switch and you can scroll through some eight different modes, from the traditional to the downright funky. Something for everyone and good fun to play around with, depending on your mood.

Of course, Android Auto and Apple Car Play are fitted, though the display only fills part of the screen, as other important functions still need to be shown. ‘Hey MINI’ will be the cry of lucky owners, the onboard assistant being quite capable of such functions as altering the heating or configuring the navigation.

A head-up display is fitted to all models and its benefits should not be underestimated. Keeping tabs on your speed on our camera infested roads is more important than ever, as it is all too easy to stray a few miles over the posted limit and gain unwelcome points on your licence.

The increased dimensions of the Mk3 Countryman means that four large adults will be able to travel in comfort, with head and legroom aplenty. A third adult can be accommodated too on the rear bench if need be and boot space is a generous 450 litres, extending to 1,450 litres with the back seats folded.

Fast Facts (as driven)
MINI Countryman C Exclusive
Price from £31,825
As tested £41,125
Smokey Green metallic paint
Vescin Vintage Brown interior
170hp 3-cylinder petrol engine
7-speed DCT automatic gearbox
Front wheel drive
0-62mph in 8.3 seconds
Combined economy 46.3mpg
Emissions 138g/km CO2
The Drive

The MINI has always impressed with its go-kart like handling and the new Countryman continues the good work. Chuck the MINI at a series of challenging bends and there is fun to be had. Body roll is negligible and there’s power aplenty to balance the car on the throttle. In ‘sport’ mode and with damp roads, it is possible to give the traction control unit a good work out.

Driven in a spirited manner, hard to resist, you will be unlikely to come close to the official combined 46.3mpg figure. However, with a little restraint, late 30s mpg should be readily achieved.

The official 0-62mph sprint time, as quoted above, feels easily achievable, the perky three-cylinder engine being always keen to rev. A little high-speed cruising saw no dramas, the cabin remaining pleasantly hushed. Ride comfort is typically MINI, perhaps a tad firm for some, ideal for the keener driver.

I also had chance to sample a John Cooper Works variant and although with some choice extras you can push the price close to £50,000, there is much to commend. Power is up to 300hp and is fed to all four wheels, the 0-62mph time dropping to just 5.4 seconds. The 1,998cc four-cylinder engine is undoubtedly a powerhouse, and with a torque figure of a heady 400Nm, the merest twitch of the right foot was enough for brisk overtakes and the like.


A little head scratching is required here, and it is quite hard to define the Countryman, especially in its new grownup form. Is it a small SUV, an estate car, a sporting hatch? In many ways it is all three and perhaps is in a class of its own.

Smaller cars from BMW may compete, the X1 and X2 models perhaps, with Audi’s smaller Q models quite likely to be on a buyer’s wish list. A Ford Puma ST is a more mainstream rival and majors on drive appeal like the MINI too.

It is doubtful that any will be as distinctive, and I can see many existing MINI owners upgrading to a Countryman as they get older and their families expand.


I have to look beyond the premium pricing for the latest Countryman as very few private buyers these days wish to own their shiny new car outright. It is all about the monthly payment. And so, by putting a modest £3,000 down and paying from £380.38 per month over four years, a Countryman can be on your driveway (8,000 miles per year, APR 8.9%).

Driver appeal is better than almost all rivals and with more space than ever, the new Countryman is likely to make it onto even more family car buyers’ wish lists. And with such an appealing interior, all the family will love it too.