2L Cooper S
The Mini Countryman is totally different from anything else in the SUV class. It’s great looking with a funky interior that has the Mini fun factor on the road.
It’s spacious with practical storage solutions, making it a comfortable family car. It’s great to drive and has efficient engines so it won’t cost the earth to run.
The first generation continued until 2017 when the new larger Countryman came along. The new edition is more stylish and 200mm longer, which helps with cabin and luggage space. It also benefits from the latest generation engines.
For the more adventurous driver, the all-wheel-drive has good ground clearance so you can go off-road.
The Countryman is well designed with the trademark big circular Mini speedometer in the centre console that also contains the infotainment screen. The newer models have cool ambient illumination and lights that change on the speedometer dial depending on how hard you accelerate.
Space is surprisingly good and very flexible. The rear seats can slide to provide more legroom if you decide to swap the kids for a few adults on a night out. Have a think about whether you want a four or five-seater though because the four has a storage rail down the middle instead of the extra seating.
There’s 350 litres of boot space in the first generation, which is enough space for several suitcases. This expanded to an impressive 450 litres in the second generation which launched in 2017 and gives you more space for an extra bag or two. Luggage space expands in both generations with the back seats folded down, which is perfect for fitting in larger items.
Steering is fantastic, visibility good and in spite of it being a bigger Mini, it still copes well with life in the city.
The Countryman is surprisingly good to drive for a car of this size and is definitely the most fun you'll find in a crossover SUV, while the second generation is improved further.
The Cooper S or SD diesel (dropped in 2018) are the best options and provide decent fuel consumption along with the performance you expect of a MINI. If you want an even more enjoyable Countryman, the JCW (John Cooper Works) sports version delivers loads of fun while the latest generation also offers a very economical plug-in hybrid.
Some models are front-wheel drive while others feature Mini's All4 all-wheel-drive system, which is great on slippery roads and on gravel tracks.
Countrymans are less ‘run of the mill’ which means they hold their value better than other Minis. Expect to pay more for your car, but you’ll also receive more when you sell.
The entire line-up, apart from the JCW, is cheap to run with the diesels capable of delivering consumption figures around 50 mpg.
Insurance costs are low unless you opt for one of the performance JCW versions, while road tax rates are comparable with lesser rivals.
Surprisingly, Mini dramatically outranks BMW in a number of reliability surveys. Apart from a few potentially expensive wear and tear items, the Countryman isn't likely to make any unexpected dents in the household budget.
Euro NCAP gave the Countryman the full five stars, which isn't surprising because it has family safety in mind, with features such as electronic stability control and hill start assist.
Best for economy - Cooper S D
Best for family - Cooper S Classic
Best for fun - John Cooper Works
All Countrymans are efficient but if you’re after a spacious Mini with the best fuel economy, then go for the Cooper S D from the first generation or the plug-in hybrid.
Performance fans should opt for the JCW but the best of all worlds is definitely the Cooper S, which delivers more famous Mini fun without compromising on economy.