2011 MINI Cooper Countryman
by John Davis
The 2011 Cooper Countryman is Mini’s fourth new-generation model, and easily the biggest Mini yet. It resides on an all new and larger chassis. The Countryman’s is 15.7 inches longer than a Mini Cooper coupe, with the wheelbase stretched by 5 inches. Even with the increase in size, the Countryman still looks like a Mini. But, like most of us, the additional girth it has acquired has not been kind to its appearance.
The Countryman is the first Mini to offer all-wheel drive. Under normal conditions, the permanent ALL4 system sends the majority of power to the front wheels. But, ALL4 can divert up to 50% power to the rear wheels when additional traction is needed. So, it’s perfect for bad weather and rutted roads.
As in all Minis, hood stripes are optional, as well as different roof treatments, including a panoramic sunroof. The optional Sport Package adds 18-inch wheels with run-flat tires. The package eliminates the spare which adds interior storage space.
Crossover-like exterior elements include sturdy black lower trim around the parameter, roof rails up top, and a rear spoiler. If you’ve spent any time in a Mini Cooper, you know that there’s a surprising amount of interior room. That trend continues into the Countryman, only now it makes its way to the back seats as well.
Standard fitment provides rear bucket seats for two, but a bench seat is optional. There’s crossover-like leg room and the high roof allows for plenty of head room. Seats both slide and recline. The rear doors are very short however, so it’s a bit tight getting in. Instead of a center storage console, there’s a front-to-back center rail system that allows for custom storage options.
Popping the large Mini emblem opens the hatch where you’ll find generous cargo space, as well as under floor storage. Front seats are also comfortable, even if adjustments are all manual. Seven airbags are standard, including a driver’s knee airbag.
Under the Countryman’s hood is an upgraded 1.6-liter I-4, either normally aspirated, or turbocharged for the Cooper S. Horsepower comes in at 181, and the 171 lb-ft. of torque can jump to 192 lb.-ft with overboost.
In addition to more power, upgrading to the Cooper S gains a revised suspension that delivers the typical, spirited Mini feel and performance. Ride comfort really soars for those in the backseat. The none-turbo Countryman feels a bit heavier and more SUV-like. Government fuel economy ratings for our Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 are 23-City and 30-Highway on Premium gas.
For Mini Cooper fans seeking more room, while maintaining the driving pleasures of a Mini, the new Cooper Countryman is a great way to maximize your all-weather fun.
If you’re intrigued by the 2011 Mini Cooper Countryman, be sure to catch our MotorWeek Road Test on episode #3031 which begins airing on public television stations on April 9th.
MotorWeek is broadcast on PBS television stations nationwide, and on HD Theater where high definition cable and satellite service is available. Full episodes of MotorWeek can also be viewed at www.pbs.org.
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