MINI COUNTRYMAN HITS THIS COUNTRY

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The BMW Mini has been one of the most successful cars globally since its introduction in 2000. It began as a two-door that, while significantly larger than the original British design, copied its shape brilliantly. Customisation was a major feature in the new Mini’s success, offering buyers a staggering number of options.

The first models were followed by various new types of bodies. Arguably the most interesting of these is the Mini Countryman. The latest version of which has finally arrived in this country. Australian buyers have been keeping a close eye on overseas internet sites and there’s already an eager queue forming.

NewCountryman is at Mini dealers now, with prices ranging from $39,900 for Mini Countryman Cooper with a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission driving through the front wheels. From there it goes all the way up to the Countryman Cooper SD at $51,500 for a sporty model with all-wheel-drive and a turbo-diesel 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with an eight-speed auto.

Front styling follows that of the new-generation Mini hatch range, but has a different design for its grilles. The wagon’s rear has a wide D-pillar (tagged ‘Aeroedge’ by Mini) and wide tailgate.

Customisation, ahh, it’s all about customisation. The standard ‘Elegant’ exterior theme can be altered to an optional ‘Offroad’ style. Or there’s the sporty look dallied by the optional John Cooper Works (JCW) Chili Package.

New Mini Countryman is big, almost 50 per cent longer that the original Mini. That’s not quite a fair comparison as there’s 58 years between the two. However, at 4299 mm long the second-generation Mini Countryman station wagon is 199 mm longer than the model it has just superseded. Almost pushing it into a different compact SUV class.

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Width has increased by 33 mm to 1822 mm; height is greater by 13 mm, now 1557 mm. Most importantly, the wheelbase is significantly greater, being 75 mm up to give a total distance between the front and back wheels of 2670 mm.

Not surprisingly, there’s significantly more space inside: 59 mm more elbow room, 50 mm added shoulder room, nine mm extra headroom. Arguably best of all is the 50 mm increase in rear legroom making this a genuine four-seat wagon for adults, with a fifth the centre-rear without too much squeezing.

The back seat has up to 130 mm fore-aft adjustment, has a 40/20/40 split-fold and the angles of the rear seat backs also be adjusted in various ways. Thus passenger / luggage space can be set up in various ways.

Boot capacity will all five seats in use can be as high as 450 litres.

Satellite navigation is installed in all models.

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The front-wheel-drive Mini Cooper is powered by a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine that produces 100 kW of power and 220 Nm of torque. Zero-100km/h acceleration is 9.6 seconds.

The Mini Cooper D Countryman has 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine with more power and torque than the turbo-petrol, that’s 110 kW and 330 Nm. It has an 8.8-second zero to 100km/h time.

Finally, the Mini Cooper S Countryman comes with a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder petrol driving the front wheels. It has sporting outputs of 141 kW and 280 Nm. Zero to 100 comes down to 7.4 seconds. It drives through an eight-speed sports automatic.

Standard safety features include automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, a reversing camera, park distance control and speed limiter.

At this stage we haven’t had a chance to drive the new Mini Countryman. We will do that as soon as possible and get back to you with a full range of drive impressions.

All new Minis are covered by a three year/unlimited distance warranty. In a sign of the times all service and selected maintenance costs can now be covered by a single, one-off advance payment with Mini Service Inclusive. This comes in a choice of two packages, Basic and Plus. Basic provides scheduled servicing, while Plus combines scheduled servicing and selected maintenance items. Details are quite complex so it might be an idea to contact your favourite Mini dealer – and perhaps try a test drive at the same time.

The complete Mini Countryman range is:
Cooper: $39,900
Cooper D: $43,900
Cooper S: $46,500
Cooper SD: $51,500
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Subaru dealer for drive-away prices.

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