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The latest Mini Countryman is a slightly confusing car, the logo says it is a Mini but the car isn’t exactly small in any way. It does have the typical-Mini design traits like the grille, headlights and wide stance. This particular model even comes with racing stripes. But, unlike the previous gen model that appeared compact, this one doesn’t. It is 4.3m long and this length also makes it heavy, close to 1.5 tonnes to be precise.
But, that brings up the question if it still drives like a Mini and whether it still feels dynamic. We took the car to a nice section of road where we would be able to answer most of your questions.
As soon as we began driving the car, we found it to have the dynamics of a car of a much smaller size. The turn-in isnt as aggressive as the older Countryman but it still feels stable in the corners. The car has a considerable amount of grip and surprisingly, even after being a front wheel drive has not understeer. The steering is decently weighted and also offers feel. The car also didn’t lose its composure when driven hard.
The car does feature the Mini nature one would be looking for; it delivers a good driving experience. However, the car does lack the go-kart like handling one would want from the car. The Countryman uses Mini’s front-wheel drive platform that is also used by the X1. Being a front-wheel drive car the engine is mounted transversely. The car can be had with four-wheel drive in international market but we only the front wheel drive model.
Another nice touch is the responsive petrol motor. The car makes 192hp and delivers responsive performance. When the car is pointed straight, one can push down the throttle for sharp acceleration. This power is also fun in the corners, where the mid-range feels nice. The car also manages to reach 100kph in just 7.5sec.
Which means, even though it’s on the larger side, it still behaves like a Mini. In Sport mode, the car produces a fake sound from the speakers. The gearbox on the car is also slow and pretty average for everyday use. It shifts smoothly and doesn’t jerk at lower speeds.
The Countryman doesn’t have the nicest low-speed ride though. It feels a bit harsh on rough sections of road, especially at lower speeds. However, once you pick up the pace the car does absorb bumps considerably better. The car does have some hard surfaces on the inside near the gear stick but overall, the soft touch materials in most other places offer a quality feel. Furthermore, the chrome touches on the inside also liven up the inside. The car can also be optioned with LED lighting that can give one a waterfall-like effect which can be toggled.
The interior towards the rear of the car is nicer as well. This time around, you get considerably more legroom. The seats in the rear are nicer than before, but still lack in terms of thigh support. Nonetheless, the rear seat is still very usable. Additionally, the car also gets a rear vent which helps cool down things. The car has a sufficient amount of headroom and legroom. In terms of boot space, one can store 450 litres of luggage. This is impressive considering the fact that the car has a spare wheel – a boon in markets like ours.
Overall, the Countryman is now sportier to drive and also nicer to sit in. To add to it, the room and comfort levels have also taken a step forward. Furthermore, the car also has a good amount of retro touches. Yes, the steering lacks the sharpness of the older model and the low speed ride is a bit on the firmer side. Nonetheless, it drives like a Mini should and is pretty agile from behind the wheel. Lastly with an expected price of Rs 36 lakh, the new Mini Countryman will give BMW’s own X1 and Audi’s Q3 a tough time.
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