New Car Reviews

2011 MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 – Four Seasons Update – November 2011

Months in service: 4 / Miles to date: 9072

Long-Term Update: Fall 2011 Array Miles to date: 9,072

Last month, we ended our update with a mention of some engine stumbling and stalling, and unfortunately that proved to be not just a one-time incident.
Soon after, art director Matt Tierney drove the Countryman out to the west side of the state for our Automobile of the Year/All-Stars competition at Gingerman Raceway. The next morning, the Mini refused to start. It ended up leaving Gingerman on a flatbed. The dealership replaced the thermostat, which had a broken housing that was allowing the coolant to leak out and was causing the cold start issues. The car is now running fine when cold.

Word of fixes for some of the other issues we’ve had with the Countryman came from — where else? — the internet. After we posted our last update on Facebook, a friend of associate web editor Donny Nordlicht, and an enthusiastic owner of an early-build Countryman, responded with encouraging news with regards to the peeling chrome trim issue and the persistent rattles. He claimed that the chrome trim was a problem on early-build cars but that it has now been fixed. Mini HQ confirms that they had a supplier problem on early-build cars, and that updated moldings are now available for replacement under warranty.
As for the rattles, he was talking about some noise when the sunroof is open, but our car doesn’t have a sunroof. Which is almost too bad because we’d love hear about anything that might quell the interior racket. Unfortunately, it seems to be more a case of hard plastic pieces rubbing against each other than it is anything that could be tightened up or fixed. Still, it’s gotten to the point that, when we’re driving over bad roads, people on the other end of our Bluetooth phone conversations have been asking about the noise.

A workaround for another issue was suggested by Phil Floraday. Some drivers have complained about how easy it is to stall the car when pulling away from a stop. Floraday says, “I end up putting the car in sport mode most of the time, as it seems to make for smoother takeoffs. Usually, Mini throttles are too touchy with sport mode engaged, but the Countryman seems to need it.” Copy editor Rusty Blackwell, for one, welcomes the suggestion. “As others have already mentioned, this car’s hill-holder function is way too aggressive. It has caused me to stall multiple times, including when pulling away from parking spots on flat ground. It feels as if it always engages — not just when you’re stopped on a hill — and it’s reluctant to release. In order to compensate I find myself riding the clutch far more than feels right.”
Already, our switch last month to standard all-season tires, from the original run-flats, has blunted much — if not quite all — of the criticism of the Mini’s harsh ride. (And, so far, we haven’t had to use the tire repair kit we now carry on board.) Perhaps now things will settle down and the Mini’s positive qualities will reassert themselves.


  • Body style 5-door crossover
  • Accommodation 4 passenger
  • Construction Ultra-rigid body frame construction


  • Engine 16-valve, direct-injected I-4 turbo
  • Displacement 1.6 liters
  • Power 181 hp @ 5500 rpm (Overboost: 192 lb-ft @1700-4500 rpm)
  • Torque 177 lb-ft @ 1600-5000 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed manual transmission
  • Drive Four wheel
  • EPA Fuel Economy 25/31/27 (city/hwy/combined)


  • Steering Electronically-assisted
  • Lock-to-lock N/A
  • Turning circle 38.1 ft
  • Suspension, Front Strut-type, coil springs
  • Suspension, Rear Multilink, coil springs
  • Brakes F/R Power-assisted disc brakes; ABS
  • Wheels 18-in. aluminum alloys
  • Tires Pirelli Cinturato P7 runflat tires
  • Tire size 225/45R18


  • Headroom F/R 39.9/37.5 in
  • Legroom F/R 40.4/33.8 in
  • Shoulder room F/R 52.8/52.1 in
  • Wheelbase 102.2 in
  • Track F/R 60.0/61.1 in
  • L x W x H 161.8 x 78.6 x 61.5 in
  • Cargo capacity 26.1/54.6 cu ft (rear seat up/folded)
  • Weight 3208 lb
  • Weight dist. F/R 58.4/41.6%
  • Fuel capacity 12.4 gal
  • Est. fuel range 347 miles
  • Fuel grade 91+ octane (premium unleaded)


  • standard equipment

    • 1.6-liter turbocharged, direct-injected I-4 engine
    • 6-speed manual transmission
    • Full-time intelligent all-wheel drive system
    • Electric power-assisted steering
    • ABS w/four wheel discs
    • Sport alloy wheels w/runflat tires
    • Corner brake control
    • Electronic brake force distribution
    • Tire pressure monitoring system
    • Stability control
    • Traction control
    • A/C
    • Manual 6-way adjustable front bucket seats
    • Tilt/telescoping steering wheel
    • Leather steering wheel w/cruise control
    • Sport button (quicker throttle & steering response)
    • Boost CD AM/FM audio system w/HD radio
    • One-year Sirius satellite radio
    • One-touch up/down power windows
    • Vehicle monitor system w/pictogram display
    • Low-profile aluminum roof rails
    • Remote keyless entry
    • Center rail w/eyeglass case & two cupholders


  • Carbon black gravity leather $1,500
  • Cold weather package
  • $750
  • Power folding mirrors
  • Heated mirrors/washer jets
  • Heated front seats
  • MINI Connected w/navigation
  • $1,750
  • Comfort Bluetooth and USB/iPod
  • MINI navigation system
  • Voice-command
  • Adaptive Xenon headlights $100
  • 18-in. alloy wheels in anthracite $1,250
  • Black bonnet stripes $100
  • Chrome line interior $250
  • Rain sensor and auto headlight $250
  • Xenon headlights $500