12 MONTH CAR REVIEWS: 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 - Enter the Automatic

June 27, 2012
2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 Front Left View
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Long-Term 2011 MINI Cooper Countryman Update - SUMMER 2012 (1 OF 2)
Miles to date: 25,214
"Give this car a nice automatic or a DSG," suggested senior online editor Phil Floraday at the start of our Mini's penultimate month in our hands, "and it might be enough to get me to look past the car's styling and its weird interior." Your wish, Mr. Floraday, is granted -- at least in the sense that an automatic-equipped Mini Countryman arrived in the office just days later. Is the automatic the solution to the problem of the undersized clutch and the 1.6-liter's turbo lag, which combine to make driving around town "a real pain in the a**," to quote Phil once again?
2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 Front Bumper
The answer, at least in part, seems to be yes. "The Countryman is much easier to live with when there's an automatic transmission backing up the 1.6-liter engine," he says. However, he also posits another suggestion: Mini should borrow BMW's excellent 2.0-liter turbocharged four, provided it could be shoehorned under the hood. That engine is so fuel-efficient in the 3-series that it probably wouldn't drink any more fuel than the smaller 1.6.
Speaking of fuel economy, assist web editor Ben Timmins took our long-term Countryman on a 1700-mile round trip to Boston this month, and he calculated 25 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, the latter figure beating the EPA's 31-mpg estimate. But good gas mileage, well tuned electric power steering, an effective all-wheel-drive system, and good handling were pretty much all the nice things he had to say after his trip. On the debit side, he recorded a litany of annoyances, including a weak air-conditioner that doesn't distribute air effectively, a "feckless" audio system with poor sound quality, a turbocharged engine with very binary power delivery (off-boost lag versus on-boost punch), and a "punishing" ride on the optional eighteen-inch wheels.
He suggests mitigating some of the above issues by deftly navigating the order sheet -- skipping the larger wheels, for instance, but springing for the automatic transmission, the Harmon-Kardon audio system, and automatic climate control. But then he floats a bigger idea. "Better yet," he says, "go see your local BMW dealer and check out the 2013 BMW X1. It has the 2.0-liter turbo four from the 3-series (which we adore!), an eight-speed automatic, and all-wheel drive." It's roughly the same size as a Countryman, and the starting price of $33,245 is about $1000 less than our Mini's as-tested figure. This is a sibling rivalry we welcome.
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:

2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 - Enter the Automatic
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