Road Test : MINI Cooper D All4 Countryman
Review by Tristan Tancredi - 26 September 2012
I must give credit to the folk at BMW for the MINI Cooper D All4 Countryman. Both externally and internally, the Countryman is unique. Despite slight changes to the design throughout the years, the MINI Cooper D Countryman still holds the trademark MINI shape and style, albeit at a size that now equates to a Crossover SUV.
The SUV segment, including Crossovers are on a rapid rise in the popularity stakes so BMW/MINI will be hoping to get a fair slice of the growing market size with the Countryman, a vehicle considerably bigger than the base model Cooper.
The Cooper D All4 Countryman is available in both 6-Speed Manual and 6-Speed Auto transmission, today we take a look at the 6-Speed Auto.
For some reason MINI loves to drive the "Go Kart" angle of the Cooper range. "Looks like a Go-Kart, Feels like a Go Kart, but for grown ups, of course".
What do we think of when we think of Go-Karts? These words spring to my mind: Teenagers, Fun, Wreckless, Fearless, Speed. Are these words to be repeated for the MINI Cooper D All4 Countryman? Probably not.
It may have similarities to a Go-Kart physically but having driven Go-Karts as a youngster, those things are waaaaay more fun to drive than a MINI Cooper. That's not to say the MINI Cooper D All4 Countryman isn't a fun car to drive, it simply doesn't have that pulsating excitement and youthful anticipation that accompanies a Go-Kart.
The MINI Cooper D All4 Countryman handles itself exceptionally well on all surfaces. Precision cornering and handling provide an interaction with driver and tarmac that is gold class. The biggest disappointment with the Cooper D Countryman comes in an area you wouldn't expect from a car branded a "Go-Kart".
The Cooper D All4 Countryman is sluggish. Planting the foot to the floor and the engine will be put into overdrive (and you can hear it struggling) simply to overtake. It reaches 0-100 km/h in 11.8 seconds, which compared to the Countryman S (7.6 seconds) is quite a difference.
A Four Cylinder Common Rail Turbocharged Diesel Engine powers the Cooper D All4 Countryman. We had a week of on road MINI testing with a 6-Speed Auto, yet the Cooper D All4 Countryman is also available in 6-Speed Manual transmission. To be frank, it's highly probable that the manual transmission would showcase better on-road performance.
Not only does the 6-Speed Manual perform 0-100km/h faster than the 6-Speed Auto it also conserves fuel more efficiently. The auto reaches 0-100 in 11.8 seconds whilst consuming 6.0 litres of fuel every 100 kms, the manual reaches 0-100 in 11.6 seconds whilst consuming 4.9 litres per 100kms. These fuel consumption figures are good and will see drivers making infrequent pit stops at the bowsers.
The Cooper D Countryman 6-Speed Automatic has maximum power and torque outputs of 82kW and 270Nm respectively.
Engine noise was an issue with the Cooper SD All4 Countryman Chilli and remains an issue with the Countryman Cooper D All4 Countryman. Cruising along in the lower gears and a tinny diesel rattle reverberates through the cabin. Plant your foot to the floor and the dieselly rattle increases ten-fold creating a pinging noise that does little to create a peaceful cabin experience.
The MINI shape and style has remained pure to the MINI brand, albeit an enlarged version. Currently the Cooper D All4 Countryman feels more at home amongst the likes of the Audi Q3 than say the Audi A1. Basically it has more in common with a Crossover SUV than a Hatchback.
A higher on road presence than the early MINI models, the Cooper D All4 Countryman has quite a distinct and noticeable on-road presence. Perhaps it's the contrasting colours, or the chrome lines or even the intrusive radiator grille bars that make the MINI so easy on the eye.
16" Alloys add to the sporty charisma of the Cooper D All4 Countryman (especially when they are black like the ones we had. Awesome!)
Measuring in at 1789mm wide, 4097mm long and 1561mm high, the MINI Cooper D All4 Countryman is a damn fine car to look at and considerably bigger than the base model Coopers.
The MINI Cooper D All4 Countryman holds a 5 star ANCAP safety rating and comes with a range of safety features.
Automatic Stability Control and Traction (Prevents the wheels from spinning). An optimum braking system is implemented in the Cooper D All4 Countryman, including ABS with Cornerning Brake Control and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (Limits braking distance).
Dynamic Stability Control and Dynamic Traction Control add that extra safety buffer to the Cooper D All4 Countryman range.
Also coming with the Cooper D All4 Countryman is 2 front, 2 side and 2 curtain airbags and a rigid chassis body that acts as a shield in the event of an accident.
Let's just say, liking the interior of a MINI Cooper D All4 Countryman is something of an acquired taste. Initially the front dash and centre console is intrusive, distracting and way too big. Over time and the massive Speedo riding shotgun gradually becomes less intrusive and less of a distraction. Unfortunately it doesn't get any less unattractive.
We have driven our fair share of Coopers and each time we lower ourselves into the seats the same thought occupies our mind. Why is the Speedo the major focus? Of course there is tradition and uniqueness attached to it, but is that more important than practicality? We think not. Backseat drivers already have too much to complain about!
No complaints with the Front Driver and Passenger Seats which provide adequate comfort, body support and plenty of space, however it gets a little cosy in the backseats with a car full of adults. There is 350 litres of bootspace available and with the seats down that expands to 1170 litres. Quite impressive.
Accessing media, whether it be Radio, AUX, Bluetooth handsfree or CD involves an interface and control system that is difficult to comprehend. At times we found it to be highly frustrating and an outright distraction to the driver.
One more gripe, why does the Hazard light button need to be a main button for everyone to see sitting on top of the dash?
When you combine all of this little nagging issues we found with the MINI Cooper D All4 Countryman, the list is quite extensive. (For example, even little things like the indicators having a seperate lane change setting, became overwhelmingly annoying. But that's an overall BMW issue).
Despite these things, the Cooper D All4 Countryman is still an eye-catching, attention demanding Crossover SUV. It handles well across a range of surfaces albeit lacking a bit of grunt when required.
Advertised as an adult Go Kart, the Mini Cooper D All4 Countryman starts at $40,950*, that's one bloody expensive Go-Kart.
* Prices are manufacturer list prices only, for the drive away price please contact your local authorised MINI dealer.
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