UK magazine MotorTorque drives the new MINI Countryman and shares their impression. The car made its market debut yesterday in most of the European markets and will launch in the U.S., in the first quarter of 2011.
Here is an excerpt from their review:
At launch the Countryman range will include three petrol – MINI One, Cooper and Cooper S – and two diesel models – MINI One D and Cooper D – as well as two ALL4 all wheel drive models, the Cooper D ALL4 and Cooper S ALL4.
Each model is equipped with an entirely new generation of power units. The petrol engines are the new 1.6-litre four cylinder power plants already announced for the Hatch, Convertible and Clubman models.
These free-revving and refined units are available with 98, 122 and 184hp power outputs with CO2 emissions ranging from 139 to 143g/km. They all feature Variable Valve Timing, similar to the BMW Valvetronic system, and produces more low down torque and better response.
Certainly functions needed as the larger Countryman feels a much heavier and less agile car than other MINIs.
The diesel models are powered by an all-new BMW 1.6 litre four cylinder, turbocharged unit with 90 and 112hp power outputs with CO2 emissions of 115g/km and fuel economy quoted as 64.2mpg.
The lightweight aluminium engines use common-rail direct injection and a turbocharger with variable turbine geometry.
The main attention grabbing news is the use of all wheel drive as an option for the Countryman. This is the first time in MINI’s 51 year history that all wheel drive is on offer.
But it is quite a different sort of MINI. Yes it still adopts the go-kart image of a wheel at each corners, it is relatively compact so it’s easy to park but it feels significantly more substantial, a MINI but not as we know it.
Where MINI wasn’t big enough for some families it now is, but the unique lightweight agility has become bulky and somewhat ponderous.
It is certainly comfortable and offers a relaxed ride and that will appeal to owners outside the normal circle of MINI customers.
Its image and must-have desirability for new affluent customers to the brand will be significant.