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Little Big Car: Mini Countryman Cooper S E All 4 Review

Say hello to the Mini Countryman Cooper S E All4, a car with quite possibly one of the longest names in the automotive world but the first one is the key here. It’s a Mini! Not quite like we remember it because the Countryman is anything but small. However, in its latest guise with added electric power, has that fun factor returned to the most sensible offering in the range? Let’s find out!

Rear three quarters view of the Mini Countryman Cooper S E All4
Countryman is the largest Mini on sale currently

Countryman is a rather unique proposition because it’s not quite a hatchback or an SUV, and doesn’t really fit the bill of a crossover either. It’s an undoubtedly large car as it appears on the outside but the benefit of that is the room on the interior but that’s for later. Anyway, Countryman’s squarish shape is broken up by a sprinkling of circles via the headlights, mirrors etc in typical funky Mini fashion.

One of the other headline acts of this car is also the significant influence of the Union Jack motif that appears on the taillight in its most prominent guise. A unique design feature but one that certainly sets the newer generation of cars apart.

Taillights on the Mini Countryman Cooper S E All4
Union Jack motifs help retain the brand’s history

One of Mini’s biggest drawcards for me has always been in the ability to customize their cars. Their range of funky colours and options still produces some very creative products! With all that choice on offer, the press car came in a shade of grey combined with black accents. It’s certainly not the combination I would have specified but it is one that will sell well based on what I have seen on the roads. The cabin on the other hand feels like a different world altogether.

Once inside the cabin, you’ll find what is arguably one of the highlights of this Mini, the switchgear! I mean, just look at those switches! The start/stop button pulsates with a green light to invite you to press it but first, the pre-flight checks. You could spend all day flicking those switches because they do feel very satisfying to use. All that’s needed is a pair of aviators and you could feel like Maverick about to take off! An extra benefit is that they are simple too with everything having a clearly labelled function that either turns things on or off. There is also something to be said about the charm of buttons especially when you have to deal with the Mini’s infotainment system.

In all honesty, an infotainment screen has never made me feel outdated in the way the Mini’s did. Perhaps I spent too little time getting familiar with it but there was no doubting its complexity. Endless menus, settings and more confused me no end. Despite the complexity, I can’t deny the funky style in which it was all done. Especially the ‘EDRIVE’ monitor which pitted you in a race against a sailboat. I quite liked that actually, a fresh approach to delivering that sort of information.

Interior of the Mini Countryman Cooper S E All4
Interior dazzles with plush leather and LED lighting

That really sums up the Mini’s cabin, fresh. I like the circular screens, switches, funky buttons, LED lights and the Union Jack patterns everywhere. It will certainly find favour with young car buyers who have an eye for fashion. I do not but can still appreciate those seats. The beautiful white quilted leather feels very comfortable to sit in. It’s a good place to enjoy either the view out the windscreen or recline and admire the sky via the dual sunroof above. The cabin is a nice place to be and the solid doors reassure you that this is a well built machine..

On the road, the Countryman feels planted. The suspension is just right for our New Zealand roads without being too harsh on the rougher stuff. For a car of this size and length, it maneuvers pretty well too especially around mall carparks. Just as well because many of the brand’s style conscious buyers will be frequenting institutions like the Newmarket Westfield for the latest season’s gear.

That driving feel is helped by the Mini’s PHEV powertrain. Normally I’d introduce the power figure here but this was a little confusing as the registration says 100kW but the Mini website says 165kW so go figure! Either way, the engine pulls hard and make a nice noise doing so! On the other hand, the electric juice carries you very quietly through carparks and helps boost your takeoff from traffic lights. Provided you have enough charge, it will even kick in with an ‘eBoost’ to make sure you are accelerating briskly.

Mini puddle lighting from the mirror of the Mini Countryman Cooper S E All4
Countryman may be large but the Mini charm still remains

The Verdict

During my brisk tryst with Mini Countryman Cooper S E All4, I was introduced to a new type of Mini. One that is maxi more so than the brand name would suggest but still somehow retains that fun lovable character that we know. It’s a funky car for sure and the Mini Yours programme allows buyers to be as creative as they can with their cars, I am a big fan of that. On the other hand, I didn’t really enjoy the complex technology or the endless nomenclature. But judging by the number of them on the roads, the Countryman has carved its own niche fan base within the brand so it remains a proper Mini.

2021/22 Mini Countryman Cooper S E All4: 3.5/5

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