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Mini Countryman Spied Again, Expected to Debut This Year

Larger, more spacious, more SUV-like.

Our spy photographers caught Mini’s new Countryman testing again, and this time, sans most of its camouflage ahead of the car’s debut later this year. The current Mini Countryman was introduced back in 2010 and received only a minor update for the 2015 model year, making it time for Mini to introduce a second generation of its mini crossover. As you can see from the photos, the Mini Countryman looks considerably bigger than the current generation. Let’s just hope it’s also better.

The Mini Countryman now rides on BMW’s UKL chassis and has been retooled to be more of a compact SUV than a large car. This chassis also underpins the new BMW X1 and Europe’s 2 Series Active Tourer, as well as other Mini models like the Cooper and Clubman. As you can see in the pictures, the Countryman appears to be wider, longer, and even taller than the last generation, which will hopefully give customers more space throughout. Mini had also promised that the new Countryman would be more of an “authentic SUV” than its predecessor.

For the new Countryman, Mini will use the same engine lineup as the Cooper and Clubman, including a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-three that makes a respectable 136 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque, as well as the S model’s 189-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. We also suspect there will be a hotter John Cooper Works iteration featuring an upgraded 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes around 228 horsepower. Mini will also introduce a new drivetrain, a plug-in hybrid which our spy photographers caught in prototype form a few months ago.

We subjected the original Mini Countryman to a year-long Four Seasons test in 2011, and found it wanting in a multitude of areas, including a lack of soul. The Countryman just didn’t feel like a Mini, and we also faced many teething issues in terms of reliability and quality control. More recently, our experience with a 2014 Mini Cooper proved that the brand might have nailed down the reliability aspect. What remains to be seen is whether the larger, more crossover-like Countryman still feels like a Mini.

Mini was once a company that embodied its name. Like Doctor Who’s Tardis, it was the brand with cars that offered a spacious interior despite their tiny exterior. Yet, when BMW bought the nameplate, Minis became normal-sized cars and since then, the company’s lineup has only become bigger in stature. That trend that has now culminated with the Mini Countryman.

We’re excited to see whether Mini has built a better Countryman, one with the soul and passion the brand once embodied.