With its freshly replaced clutch, our four-seasons Mini Countryman ALL4 is rolling again. And the new hardware has made a major difference in the driving experience.
"The clutch is definitely much better now that it's been replaced," reports copy editor Rusty Blackwell. "The engagement point is much clearer, shorter, and quicker. I no longer feel like I need to keep adding gas just to keep it from stalling, as was the case before."
But while no one is suggesting that any mechanical problem remains, some staffers are still not thrilled with the Mini's third pedal.
"Although the shudder is gone, it's still not easy to smoothly pull away from a stop," says associate web editor Jake Holmes.
"I think part of the reason for the premature wear on the clutch is the awkward relationship between the driver's seat and the clutch pedal," adds senior web editor Phil Floraday. "The arc of the pedal travel and the engagement point of the clutch in this car do not fit the natural movement of my left leg."
It may seem to be anathema for a Mini, but maybe the solution for the Countryman is to go the automatic-transmission route (a six-speed automatic is a $1250 option). We'll have a chance to check out that option soon, as we'll be getting into an automatic-equipped Countryman in the coming weeks, which should make an interesting side-by-side comparison.
Perhaps the automatic-equipped version will allow us to concentrate on the Countryman's other qualities, such as its impressive space utilization.
"The Countryman is lots bigger and more usable for a family than the regular Mini Cooper," notes Blackwell, who has a family of four. "But it still fits in the Compact Car Only spots in our parking garage with a couple of feet to spare."
"I love this car's interior packaging, its styling, and especially its performance," agrees associate web editor Evan McCausland. But he then goes on to bemoan the Mini's high price tag, harsh ride, rattle-prone interior, and -- yes -- "finicky clutch take-up." The Countryman had been on his wife's short list to replace her aging Honda CR-V, but now McCausland says, "I'm not so sure."
Our long-term Countryman has four more months to win its way back onto that list, and into our good graces.
|Body style||5-door crossover|
|Construction||Ultra-rigid body frame construction|
|Engine||16-valve, direct-injected I-4 turbo|
|Power||181 hp @ 5500 rpm (Overboost: 192 lb-ft @1700-4500 rpm)|
|Torque||177 lb-ft @ 1600-5000 rpm|
|Transmission||6-speed manual transmission|
|EPA Fuel Economy||25/31/27 (city/hwy/combined)|
|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|
|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|
|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 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 and 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 and 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|