The all-new MINI Countryman is described as the biggest model ever launched in the 57-year history of the brand.
On UK roads in February, the new car is 200mm longer than its predecessor and 30mm wider, on a wheelbase extended by 75mm. As a result it includes five full-sized seats and according to its makers a clear increase in space and versatility.
The rear seats can also be adjusted forward and back by 130mm, depending on whether rear seat space or an increase in the standard 450-litre luggage volume is required. With the seats folded the volume climbs to 1309 litres, 220 more than the previous Countryman.
First plug-in MINI in range
Also debuting in the new MINI Countryman is the brand’s first plug-in hybrid drivetrain. The Countryman S E ALL 4 draws on experience gained by MINI parent company BMW in its iPerformance range of electric vehicles. A three-cylinder 136hp petrol engine powers the front wheels while the rear axle is powered by an 88hp motor mounted under the floor, with the lithium-ion battery mounted directly ahead of the motor.
The total system output of 224hp produces a 6.9-second 0-62mph time, alongside combined cycle fuel economy of 134.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 49g/km.
The full MINI line-up of traditional engines is also available. Countryman Cooper models use the same 1.5-litre 136hp petrol unit as the ALL4, while the Cooper S has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit with 192hp. Two versions of the 2.0 diesel engine are the Cooper D with 150hp and the 190hp Cooper SD.
The marketing push for the new MINI Countryman includes its high level of standard equipment – satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and an emergency E-call service are fitted to all models. Other features available include the first electronic tailgate control on a MINI, with touch-free opening and closing. Two-zone automatic air conditioning, a panoramic glass roof and a tow hitch with removable ball head are also on the options list.
Further debuts on the model include a touchscreen on the central dash instrument panel, and the MINI picnic bench, a foldout loading sill cushion on the luggage compartment lid designed for outdoor use.
Prices for the new MINI Cooper Countryman start from £22,465. Prices for the plug-in hybrid variant are yet to be announced.
For the best independent and impartial car buying advice on the internet, always check with The Car Expert: