12 MONTH CAR REVIEWS: 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 - Four Seasons Update - August 2011

August 23, 2011
2011 MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 Front Left View
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Long-Term 2011 MINI Cooper Countryman Update - SUMMER 2011 (1 OF 1)
Months in service: One / Miles to date: 1957
Months in service: One
Miles to date: 1957
After taking delivery of the Mini Countryman at Mini HQ in New Jersey, our Cooper S Countryman All4 spent its first month in New York, where first impressions were formed and where we began to evaluate the relative merits of the equipment we'd ordered.
2011 MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 Rear Right View
Right off the bat, we're liking the turbocharged engine, which seem more essential in this car than any other Mini, if only because of the Countryman's greater size and weight. It being mid-summer, all-wheel drive hasn't yet been able to show off its winter-weather advantages, but it's welcome even on dry, sunny days because it effectively vanquishes torque steer.
When pulling away from a stop, it takes a moment before the turbo kicks in, so if you don't rev the engine when you're slipping the clutch the car can bog down for a second (at that point, the hill-holder feature is often quite welcome). Then the turbo kicks in, and the Cooper S Countryman scoots ahead with characteristic Mini verve. Mini claims the 0-60 time to be 7.3 seconds (with all-wheel-drive and the manual transmission), significantly quicker than the base engine's 9.8 seconds (with the manual and front-wheel drive). So far, in mostly around-town driving, we're averaging 29 mpg, which is not bad at all -- although that is on premium fuel.
The shift action and clutch are getting full marks, as is the electric power steering. Mini does electric assist better than just about anyone. Despite its larger dimensions, the Countryman is nearly as zippy through traffic as the standard Mini. Alas, the ride is pretty harsh, which is also very much like the standard Mini. At this point, we're glad to have skipped the sport suspension, but we're thinking that the upsized, 18-inch wheels were probably a mistake. Impacts are sharp, and the car can skip sideways when you hit a bump on an off-ramp.
We used the Countryman to go out to dinner with another couple, which is not something you would do with any other Mini. There were no complaints from those riding in back. In fact, they were ooh-ing and ahh-ing over how cool the car was. That is, until we hit our first sharp-edged bump, which caused a very different expletive -- and a mumbled apology from the driver.
As to other features of this particular Countryman, opinions are still forming on the navigation system. It comes with a Mini version of BMW's iDrive, which is somewhat cumbersome to use. We have not, however, dialed in to all the system's features, so more on that anon. There is a little cell-phone cradle thing on the center console, but it's poorly located (under the center armrest); if you just drop your cell phone into one of the two cupholders instead, you've effectively used up half your stowage space.
As its first month was drawing to a close, New York bureau chief Jamie Kitman grabbed the keys and was setting off for Pittsburgh with his family to take in a Pirates game. Since our Countryman wears Pirates colors, maybe they got preferential parking. In any event, check back next month to see what Kitman had to say.
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

Long-Term 2011 MINI Cooper Countryman Reviews to Date:

2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 - Four Seasons Update - August 2011
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