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Up and Out: 2024 Mini Countryman C Classic Review

Our regular readers out there would have noticed that I was pipped to the post by Harry and his review of the 2024 Mini Countryman JCW. As you will also see in the video below, the story was the same with the race to the vehicle registration office with the two cars being just one number apart!

Yes, the JCW has the upper hand when the rubber meets the road but that’s to be expected, the C Classic on the other hand isn’t about straight line performance. Instead, its role is to introduce prospective buyers to the refreshed Countryman range and what a change it has undergone!

A while back, Harry and I were invited to the launch of Mini’s new design language. The Cooper featured heavily there but we also got a chance to get up close with the new Countryman. This new model demonstrated a radical departure from the previous one in pretty much every aspect with only its mildly recognizable silhouette remaining intact.

The Countryman to me has always been the oddball of the Mini range. Cooper being the hero car of course and Clubman also being a legacy nameplate, the thought of a crossover/SUV thing didn’t comfortably fit into the range. For a long time too, the Countryman carried the Cooper nameplate as well, making the situation even more puzzling. That stops with this generation, the new car simply being called the Mini Countryman, it has officially grown out of its Cooper badge.

And growing is what it has done plenty of! The new model doesn’t just look bigger, it is bigger. The length is now 4.43m, 13cm larger than before while the height has been expanded by 6cm to 1.61m. It gives the Countryman a more pronounced look on the road but at the same time, hasn’t helped with the car’s awkward dimensions.

Officially, it’s an SUV now without quite as much ground clearance as the rest meaning that the driving position can feel a little strange. The large mirrors made it surprisingly tricky to make the two sharp right turns needed to enter my driveway. While its larger dimensions mean drivers will need to be more conscious of maneuvering, they are allowed to be less so of their conscience.

Side on view of a 2024 Mini Countryman C Classic in Silver at sunset with a natural background.
The 2024 model is now larger and more comfortable with the Countryman nameplate

While the new Countryman is made in Leipzig, Germany, making it the first Mini to be made outside of England, it also happens to be the most environmentally friendly car ever to wear a Mini badge. Its production itself sees the car made in one of the most outstanding plants in the world for sustainability. Then there’s the materials, featuring plenty of recycled metals, plastics, textile fibres and vegan leather, it leaves a rather small carbon footprint for a car of this size.

However, the Countryman also proves that this level of sustainability doesn’t need to bring compromise. The interior is very well put together, the doors especially offer a robust if not Germanic ‘thunk sound’ when slammed shut. Chrome has been done away with, replaced with satin finished metal elements instead which dot both the exterior and interior details. A key element of which is the door handle, the operation of which seems a bit inconvenient initially but with time, becomes more natural and helps with elbowing the door open. Something that also takes a bit of getting used to is the central control panel, while the starter switch and other buttons will be familiar to existing Mini owners, the mounting of the gear switch is a new addition.

Also new to the cabin is the 240mm wide rounded infotainment screen. While the shape has been retained, implementation of an OLED screen makes the dashboard look a lot tidier and the screen able to utilized to a greater extent than before. However, as was my issue with the previous gen Countryman, its complexity remains. Basic controls like the AC and audio are easy enough to access but turning safety systems off, altering settings etc are a little more arduous. The voice assistant wasn’t particularly helpful either but then I do have a notoriously difficult to understand drawl. Lastly, the vegan leather seats are comfortable but the thick oversized steering wheel feels a little odd in the hand. It does come with a fabric strap rather than a third central spoke which is a nifty feature and a nod to Mini’s use of recycled fabrics all around the cabin.

On the road, the Countryman C is similarly efficient in its use of fuel. This model comes with 48V mild-hybrid technology, meaning that coasting, stopping and setting off see the engine turned off. The powerplant itself is a 1.5L three-cylinder turbo making 125kW and 280Nm to help the car along while using 6.9L/100km of fuel, impressive when you consider the car’s size! During my drive, I achieved 7.5L/100km which isn’t bad either. A 7-speed dual clutch gearbox controls the power delivery but it can be a bit slow to engage when going from EV to petrol mode off the mark.

Similarly, the C Classic is no straight line rocket but it wasn’t designed to be one anyway! Instead, its three cylinder engine offers a rewarding note under duress. C comes with seven different driving modes which mostly tailor the interior lighting etc rather than the driving experience but go-kart does add much needed steering feel.

Rear three quarters view of a 2024 Mini C Classic in Silver underneath a maple tree.

The Verdict

While not perfect by any means, the new Mini Countryman C Classic offers a huge improvement over the previous generation and plenty for those wanting more Mini in their life. Even though it has grown out of its Cooper branding, it has become even more integrated with the brand’s principles despite growing up too, a masterstroke from the team! The liberal use of Union Jack motifs and environmentally friendly materials will no doubt be appreciated by the Mini faithful as will its price. With a starting figure of $54,990, the new Countryman C offers plenty of value too.

2024 Mini Countryman C Classic: 3.5/5

Thanks for reading! For more Mini news and reviews, visit Tarmac Life.

Words and photos by Matthew D’Souza, car courtesy of Mini New Zealand.

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