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2011 MINI Countryman Review

2011 MINI Countryman Review - First Drive
MINI’s first crossover adds plenty of functionality with little compromise on performance

Good news for MINI diehards who feel uneasy about the MINI Countryman and its ballooning size; there won’t be any MINIs larger than this, says Jim McDowell, MINI USA’s President. Even though it’s smaller than a Volkswagen Golf, the MINI Countryman is being pitched as a MINI for those who need more space and utility.

Despite the compact footprint, the Countryman looks quite portly relative to the standard hatchback model. The car is obviously longer and wider but most importantly taller than the regular car, owing to the increased ground clearance that helps peg the Countryman as a “crossover” rather than just a plain old MINI. The idea of taking this car on anything more treacherous than a gravel road is, however, laughable.

Up front, a new fascia is present, and with the big frog eyes and down-turned grille, it makes the MINI
look more like a distressed sea creature than the iconic British compact should. Little details, like the slightly kinked roofline and chrome accents do a lot when the car is painted in a darker shade, while bright colors, like red or blue, are much better at hiding some of the visual bulk and help make the car “pop.”


While space and utility tend to be the primary concern for buyers in this segment, this is a MINI, and a lot of MINI buyers are concerned with driving dynamics in a way that other brand’s consumers aren’t. For anybody reading this worried about the Countryman compromising the MINI’s legendary driving experience (and there are many, judging by some vitriolic comments online), you can all pop a Xanax, because the Countryman trades off very little performance for a fair bit of utility – as long as you only need to carry four.
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