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With light design changes and modern equipment upgrades, the MINI Countryman is more appealing than before.

03 Dec 2020


The notion of a MINI SUV might seem instinctively contradictory. MINI purists will lambast the Countryman as an abomination. But considering the Countryman makes up around 30% of MINI sales globally, customer demand for this model is undeniable. Untraditional, certainly, but the business case is unquestionable. 

The second generation F60 model, first launched in 2017, now receives a mid-cycle refresh. Will its appeal grow?

Equipping up

The refreshed exterior design is less fussy than before, and lends the car a more mature look
The Countryman is stylistically more approachable now, trading the butch looks of the pre-facelift model for something that's a little more mellow. Notably, the front fascia (especially the new grille) is a lot less fussy than before. MINI says that it's gone for a more upright look, and in this particular instance, it works. This Cooper S variant also gets the Piano Black Exterior trim as standard, which adds gloss black elements to the exterior.

It's in the cabin where the updates are most obvious. You get a digital instrument cluster now with a 5.0-inch digital display, which is easier to read than the traditional MINI circular dial.

In place of the traditional circular instrument cluster is the new digital cluster
You also get a 8.8-inch infotainment system with Connected Navigation Plus, standard on all cars in Singapore. Also, the various shortcut buttons are now housed within a touch-sensitive Piano Black surface. It lends a new level of sleekness and modernity to the circular control unit.

Also, the MINI Countryman comes equipped with 4G LTE connectivity. On top of a wide range of MINI Connected services, this also enable the use of Intelligent Emergency Call as well as MINI TeleServices.

The Countryman offers wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity
All in all, the cabin feels notably more modern and future oriented.

The cabin is also spacious enough to comfortably fit five people. And, with 450 litres of boot space, the Countryman is certainly not lacking in practicality, either.

Drive easy

Mechanically, the Countryman is largely unchanged. It's still powered by BMW's B48 2.0-litre engine, though the engine has been slightly revised. It produces a tad less power than before and has been optimised to meet the rigorous Euro 6d emission standard. Still, with 176bhp and 280Nm of torque, the car isn't slow at all.

The revised engine, while a tad less powerful than before, is still a very capable unit
The broad torque band is certainly useful, as the car is somewhat heavy. Initial pick-up from a standstill is a tad lethargic, but once you're on the trot the car is breezy to drive. The ride is good, too - forgiving and comfortable, without being overly wafty and soft.

Does it drive like a MINI? Not really, but then again, how could it? This is a crossover (essentially a BMW X1), and there's no overcoming the simple laws of physics. It drives well for what it is, don't get me wrong. But, it certainly lacks the lightness and sharpness of a typical MINI Cooper.

The rear lights now feature an integrated Union Jack design
Issues? The brakes are a tad snatchy at low speeds, although it might just be that the car is so new and hasn't been properly broken in. And, our test car came fitted with Pirelli P Zero tyres, which probably isn't the most suitable choice for this car. Tyre noise above 80km/h is harsh.

Growing appeal

Look, the MINI Countryman is always going to be a divisive car. People who hate it will hate it no matter what.

Thanks to subtle yet noticeable improvements, the Countryman's particular appeal continues to grow
However, judged objectively, there's no denying that the Countryman has plenty to offer. The updates to the Countryman, subtle yet definitely noticeable, definitely increases the car's overall appeal. It feels contemporary yet classic.

And if you want an untraditional crossover that delivers something a little bit more unique and characterful, the Countryman most certainly fits the bill.

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Car Information

spacer

Price

: $221,888

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve TwinPower Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1998cc

Horsepower

:

131kW (176 bhp) / 5000 rpm

Torque

:

280 Nm / 4200 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) DCT Sport

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

7.4sec

Top Speed

:

223km/h

Fuel consumption

:

15.2km/L

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