2011 MINI Countryman Auto Review | Catalog-cars

2011 MINI Countryman Auto Review

25 Nov 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2011 MINI Countryman Auto Review
Mini Countryman

2011 MINI Countryman

MINI launches four-door Countryman with available AWD

Kirk Bell on 10.24.2010

When BMW relaunched the MINI brand in the United States in 2002, the lineup consisted of one vehicle, the tiny MINI Cooper hardtop. The car offered a unique combination of fuel efficiency, maneuverability, and retro good looks, but it became a success because it was just so darn fun to drive.

A convertible followed for the 2005 model year, and the slightly larger MINI Cooper Clubman arrived in 2008, complete with a passenger side second-row access door. For 2011, MINI is releasing its biggest vehicle, the four-door, all-wheel-drive Countryman.

MINI Countryman Styling

MINI Countryman Equipment

All models get updated versions of MINI’s1.6-liter four-cylinder engines. The base engine is up slightly to 121 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque, while the turbocharged version in S models gains 12 horsepower to 184 and torque peaks at 192 pound-feet in overboost mode. Both engines come with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

We had the opportunity to drive the MINI Countryman S ALL4 in and around Hamburg, Germany. While the Countryman weighs about 240 pounds more than a MINI Cooper hardtop and the all-wheel-drive system tacks on another 150 pounds, the turbocharged engine gets the S ALL4 model moving easily, without a hint of turbo lag. The overboost mode works for about seven seconds, which is probably as long as you would ever have your foot to the floor, so it’s available most of the time.

Power comes on strongest over 2800 rpm, and passing is easy as long as you’re in the right gear.

MINI says 0-60 mph takes 7.6 seconds in a front-drive S model and 7.9 seconds in the S ALL4. That’s pretty peppy, but not quick, and that’s just how the MINI Countryman S ALL4 feels. Expect the base model to take about 10 second to hit 60 mph.

The MINI Countryman is offered with a fun-to-shift manual transmission. It slides into each gear easily with a somewhat rubbery feel, but clutch takeup can be abrupt. My drive partner stalled the car more than once when taking off.

Mini Countryman

Inside, the MINI Countryman is easily the roomiest MINI. Front seat occupants have plenty of head- and legroom. They sit on comfortable and supportive bucket seats facing a typical MINI retro dashboard, with its large, center-mounted speedometer. The controls are all centrally located, including the window switches and door locks.

It’s an ergonomic oddity, and the layout takes some time to learn.

With the Countryman, MINI is introducing MINI Connected, an infotainment system exclusively for the iPhone. It provides an iPhone dock in the center console, and displays Internet radio, local Google search, Twitter access, and RSS feeds on the center screen. Drivers use the touchscreen to control these features and find any of up to 25,000 Internet radio stations.

It was pretty cool to listen to WLUP and WMVP in Germany, but the signal was lost several times, due to the whims of ATT’s signal quality.

MINI Countryman Rear Seating and Cargo

In back, the MINI Countryman has a pair of rear bucket seats. They slide fore and aft up to 5.1 inches, leaving room for a six-footer to sit behind another six-footer. Those second-row seats, however, lack the support needed for long-trip comfort, and rear passengers will pitch and lean when the car goes around corners.

There is also no center seat. Instead, MINI offers a one- or two-piece rail system that can hold a variety of other accessories. Given the lack of passenger support, I’d like a center armrest.

Predictably, rear cargo room in the Countryman is also improved over other MINIs. The rear seats fold almost flat to open up a 40-cubic foot hold, eight more than in the Clubman and about the same as a Mazda3 hatchback. The cargo area is useful, but the load floor isn’t consistent because of the split between the rear seats.

With that extra cargo and passenger space, as well as available all-wheel drive and a smoother ride, the 2011 MINI Countryman is bound to be another success story. It’s not quite as fun to drive as its smaller siblings, but it’s still a blast, and it’s practical, too. There are plenty of good reasons to buy the biggest MINI. (www.miniusa.com)

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Mini Countryman
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