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

September 19, 2011
2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 Cabin
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Long-Term 2011 MINI Cooper Countryman Update - FALL 2011 (1 OF 3)
Months in service: 2 / Miles to date: 4326
When we last left off with our Mini Countryman, New York Bureau Chief Jamie Kitman was about to set out in it on his annual family pilgrimage to PNC park to see the Pittsburgh Pirates. He reports:
"Well, the sales figures are in, and the Countryman is a winner, accounting for a third of Mini's worldwide volume, almost instantly. The purist in me is mildly offended -- the thing weighs 3300 pounds fer chrissake -- but I can understand why it's so popular: four doors, four-wheel drive, and the sort of usability that buyers of ordinary Minis and even the Clubman forego. As easily accessed back seat made possible a trip to Pittsburgh with my octogenarian parents (also Mini owners) in tow. And we averaged 30 mpg on the trip home, which is not too bad for a crossover with all-wheel drive."
2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 Chrome Trim
Kitman gave props to the powertrain ("peppy and tractable, acceptably linear for a turbo"), the seats ("pretty supportive and comfortable"), the brakes ("peachy"), the roadholding, and the economy. In the debit column, he put the steering ("eager at first swipe, but in fact over-eager -- too alert"); visibility ("you'd have thought the extra height would result in improved visibility, but no"); the dash design ("Mini keeps mixing it up, but it's not getting any better"); the L-shaped handbrake ("pointless"); and, of course, the ride quality.
Oh, and the Pirates won both games, beating the Saint Louis Cardinals.
After Pittsburgh, the Countryman went on another road trip, this time to the Adirondacks, to escape the impending hurricane Irene (a plan that ultimately didn't work out so well). We had the car packed pretty full with three people, two coolers, and all the attendant luggage. There's a handy bit of extra storage space under the cargo floor and we also folded down one of the rear seatbacks (they do not fold flat). The biggest road-trip packing challenge, though, is up front, where there's almost nowhere to put anything.
On the empty rural roads in the Adirondack foothills, the Mini was really in its element, barreling up and down the inclines and zooming through the sweeping curves. Not so fun was the oxcart ride quality, which requires the driver to keep an extra-vigilant lookout for even the slightest road imperfections. When the rain finally arrived, we were impressed with the ALL4 all-wheel-drive system's ability to apportion the torque, such that we never saw the flashing indicator of the traction control system.
Back home, we gave the Countryman a well-earned wash in the driveway, and discovered that the chrome beltline molding isn't really chrome at all. It's plastic with a chrome-colored sticker on it. That sticker is too short in places, doesn't sit flush around corners, and is already coming unstuck.
2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 Cabin
Over the next few days, we made a couple runs into the city, where the Mini's tidy size was, predictably, a boon for slipping through Manhattan's clogged streets. Rear-seat riders continue to be impressed with the space back there, but the rear compartment would be more comfortable if the door armrests weren't molded plastic.
Finally, we handed off the keys to assistant online editor Donny Nordlicht, who would be taking the Countryman west to Ann Arbor, where it will spend the next ten months of its yearlong stint. Check back to hear how the Mini fared on its longest road trip to date, and to see what the first impressions are amongst the staffers at the home office.
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:

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