12 MONTH CAR REVIEWS: 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 - Too Maxi to be Mini?

May 29, 2012
2011 MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 Rear Left Side View
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Long-Term 2011 MINI Cooper Countryman Update - SPRING 2012 (3 OF 3)
Miles to date: 21,347
May was a relatively quiet month for our Four Seasons Mini Countryman. Happily, no new problems cropped up. Nor, however, did the Countryman take any significant road trips. Instead, in the mundane back and forth of everyday driving, we contemplated the question of the Countryman's place in the automotive cosmos, and its identity as a Mini.
2011 MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 Front Left View
It was probably East Coast Bureau Chief Jamie Kitman who touched off the soul-searching. In his May column, "God Save the Mini", he lumped the Countryman in with the Mini Coupe and Roadster as off-message outliers of the brand. He accused the Countryman of exhibiting the sins of "loss of focus and acute styling oddity," even as he acknowledged that the model has sold well.
Indeed, the Countryman has proven popular. Through April of this year, it accounts for 40 percent of total Mini volume.
Those hearty figures, combined with a give-the-people-what-they-want sensibility, have assistant web editor Evan McCausland promoting the opposite viewpoint. "I still hear a lot of backlash over the Countryman," he starts. "Not in terms of how it drives, or how it holds up, but over the idea of a Mini CUV itself. Get over it."
"There are those who would love to drive a Cooper S on a daily basis, but may have two pre-teens in the house, or live in areas pounded with deep snow in the winter." For them, he argues, the Countryman serves a need.
He continues: "Does it drive exactly like its smaller brethren? No, but it comes fairly close. And if some Mini shoppers are willing to surrender a measure of agility and sharpness for greater interior space and all-weather traction, then so be it."
Senior editor Eric Tingwall is on the same page. "You won't catch me lamenting a four-door, all-wheel-drive Mini," he says. "The Countryman is a breath of fresh air in the compact crossover segment, which is generally about as exciting as the mid-size-sedan class -- that is to say, not very."
"It's also the perfect size," he adds. "There's great rear-seat legroom and a nice-sized cargo hold, yet the Countryman easily fits into even the tightest parking spaces."
It was beginning to look like we'd get through the month without a single mention of the Mini's clutch, which has vexed us all year. Alas, we did not.
Staunch Countryman defender McCausland -- who also is member of a household with two Honda CR-Vs -- couldn't help ending his screed with a wish for a Honda-BMW partnership, one that would deliver a Honda-engineered clutch for the Countryman.
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 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
Xenon headlights $500

Long-Term 2011 MINI Cooper Countryman Reviews to Date:

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