On the road: Mini Countryman 1.6T Cooper S ALL4 | Technology | The Guardian

31 Dec 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on On the road: Mini Countryman 1.6T Cooper S ALL4 | Technology | The Guardian
Mini Countryman

On the road: Mini Countryman 1.6T Cooper S ALL4

‘It’s too big, like the opposite of a Tardis.’ Photographs: Simon Stuart-Miller

My understanding of the word mini is that it is comes from miniature, meaning much smaller than normal. I’m thinking of skirts (as usual), bars (ditto) and the cute little car Alec Issigonis designed in 1959.

When the Bavarians at BMW created the new Mini (can it really be 10 years ago?), they showed a lack of understanding, or perhaps a lack of respect for our language, because it was quite big. It’s obvious how they came up with the design: they heated up the old car to a temperature that allows metal to expand, then they attached a powerful compressor to the exhaust pipe and simply pumped it up. Voila, or whatever the German is for voila, the new Mini.

It was still just about recognisable, sharing some DNA with the original, and isn’t a totally unlikable car. Well, it wasn’t until the estate agents took a fancy to it: who wants to drive around looking like a fox from Twatstons? (Something went wrong there but you know what I mean.)

For the Countryman, they’ve gone back to their compressor and pumped it up even more. A lot more. It’s gigantic and has absolutely no right to be called a Mini. I parked next to an old one in Sainsbury’s car park; never mind Bavaria, it looked as if we’d come straight from Brobdingnag.

My girlfriend wanted me to ask the little man in his little car what he thought of our monster, but to be honest I was too embarrassed. He might think it was mine, and obviously he’d hate it.

I hate it, too. This is a really stupid car. Yes, it drives well. I’m trying the top-of-the-range Cooper S All4. It really is a 4×4, though you need only to look at it to realise it’s not meant to go anywhere very wild, just as you wouldn’t wear your limited edition metallic trainers for farming.

And it’s too big for the city. Too big for this car park anyway – if we weren’t parked next to a tiny old Mini, I wouldn’t be able to get out. And I’m on a diet.

Yet the model I’ve got has only two seats in the back, so it carries exactly the same number of people as the tiny car next door. It’s like the opposite of a Tardis.

OK, so it’s well done inside, with some nice Mini details like the big dial speedometer, which is actually in totally the wrong place to be useful so there’s another one in the right place. A gimmick, in other words. It all is – one massive great gimmick. Oh, and the price is massive, too, especially if you go for this one. Twenty two and half grand.

For a Mini! That’s just bloody ridiculous.

Mini Countryman 1.6T Cooper S All4

Price £22,495

Top speed 130mph

Acceleration 0-60mph in 7.9 seconds

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