MINI Countryman Review
The stylish Mini Countryman is the most practical model in the brand’s range
Strengths & weaknesses
The Mini Countryman is the largest and most practical model in the Mini range, but as you’d expect from the compact-car brand, it’s not a particularly big car even though it’s an SUV. It offers the style and fun of the other Mini models but with enough space for family life.
It’s a similar size to an Audi Q2, although other rival models include the larger Q3, the BMW X1, the Volvo XC40 and the Mercedes GLA. The Mini is a bit cheaper than those models but a little more expensive than a Volkswagen T-Roc or Mazda CX-30, so there’s plenty of choices to consider when looking into a Mini Countryman.
There are a few engines to choose from including the normal petrol Cooper model, the sporty Cooper S and the powerful and fast John Cooper Works (JCW) version at the top of the range. There’s also a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model called the Cooper S E Plug-in hybrid, which we cover in a separate buying guide.
There was also previously a diesel range, including the Cooper D and Cooper SD versions, but these are now only available on the used market as they’re no longer available new. The Countryman has been on sale since 2017 but received an update in 2020 with a new grille and some more equipment inside.
The Countryman is a great choice because it has a great balance of abilities. It’s fun to drive while also being comfortable, plus it’s stylish, has an upmarket interior and is relatively practical too. It’s decent value (although certain rivals are better-equipped) and there are engine options to suit anyone.
Read on to find out more about the Mini Countryman including the technical details, trim information and which one is best for you.
Should I get a Mini Countryman?
✔ Fun to drive and comfortable
✔ Looks great inside and out
✔ Great engine range
✘ Not as well-equipped as some rivals
✘ Could have more space inside
✘ A little expensive to buy and run
The Mini Countryman is an upmarket and stylish small SUV that’s big enough for family life, great to drive and has a great range of engines. There’s no real weak point in the line-up, and even the older diesel models are a great buy because they’re so cheap to run and the motors are punchy. The petrol models are great too, with enough performance for anyone in the high-spec JCW version. There’s even a plug-in model.
It’s good to live with and there’s plenty of equipment available, but you need to be diligent when buying as most of it was included in option packs rather than as standard. Check that any potential purchase, especially used, has the equipment that you want - as the base models tend to be lacking some key kit.
- Models explained
- Trim levels
- Plug-in hybrid
- Charge time
- Best Countryman for
- Boot space
- Should I buy used?
The Mini Countryman arrived in 2017 and was updated in 2020 with a new grille and some more equipment, but it’s still fundamentally the same car. There are currently only petrol models available, including the 1.5-litre three-cylinder Cooper (136hp), the 2.0-litre Cooper S (192hp) and the most powerful 2.0-litre JCW (306hp).
Previously there were Cooper D and Cooper SD diesel versions, too. These have 150hp and 190hp respectively and are more efficient than the petrols, especially on the motorway. There are manual or automatic gearboxes available in the Countryman, and our pick is the manual as it’s fun to use and keeps costs down.
Trim levels were initially not present at all and everything was added via options such as the Chili Pack. In 2018 the structure was altered so that there were three base trims, Classic, Sport and Exclusive (then later, Untamed). Options were then added to each to suit buyers. See below for what each included.
Mini Countryman PHEV
There is also an electrified model called the Cooper S E All4 Plug-in hybrid, which we’ve covered in a separate article. It uses an 8.8kWh battery and an electric motor alongside the petrol engine, so it can travel around 30 miles on electric power alone. It’s a good option if you can charge up at home and tend to do short trips day-to-day.
|Classic||From £15,500: Cooper, Cooper S and so on refer to the engines, and the trim levels are separate from that. Classic comes with sat-nav, smartphone connectivity, an 8.8-inch media screen, traffic info and digital radio.|
|Exclusive||From £16,995: Exclusive adds silver exterior trim, 19-inch alloys, a leather steering wheel, upgraded headlining and leather upholstery.|
|Untamed||Limited stock: Untamed trim comes with 18-inch alloys, some different exterior trim, ambient lighting, leather seats and black roof rails.|
|Sport||From £15,990: This model takes design cueues from the sporty JCW model and similar levels of equipment to Exclusive, combined with tamer engines.|
|Early models||From £13,050: Early models didn't come in different trim levels, but instead, Mini offered a number of equipment packs. Chili pack is something to look for on older used models. It added part-leather trim, climate control and bigger 18 or 19-inch alloy wheels on top of air-con, digital radio and sat-nav that was standard on these cars.|
The best engine for the Countryman is the Cooper - it might not sound like much, as it’s only a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine, but the turbocharger means that there’s plenty of performance. It’s quiet, fun to use, reasonably efficient and the best value for money. Expect around 40mpg.
If you want a performance engine then the 2.0-litre Cooper S is the next-best option. It’s nearly as quick as the full-fat JCW but you avoid that model’s stiff suspension and it’s cheaper to buy, too. If you do a lot of long trips, consider an older Cooper D model, as the diesel engine is really efficient on the motorway.
This was Mini's first electrically powered model, with a plug-in hybrid setup capable of around 20 miles on electric power in real-world conditions. While more modern cars can double this range, they also have a battery that is double the size. The Mini's 8.8kWh battery could cost as little as 66p to fully charge on the cheapest off-peak rates, opening the door to rock-bottom motoring costs. It also gets four-wheel drive, which gives it added grip in slippery conditions.
There are loads of different models to choose from in the Mini Countryman range, so it can be hard to work out which is best for you. As a rule of thumb, you should choose a diesel model only if you do a lot of miles, as the petrol versions are less efficient over a longer drive but more so on short trips.
As for trim levels, it really doesn’t matter which you pick as they are similar in price - it’s the options you add that matter. If you’re buying used, check what options are fitted and buy a model that has what you want. Here are some examples.
|Mini Countryman Cooper Classic: This version comes with the best all-round engine, the Cooper, and in Classic trim it has enough kit for most including sat-nav and air-conditioning. You might want to add options or find one with certain things - like heated seats - included, though.|
|Mini Countryman Cooper Exclusive: There’s no reason to choose the Cooper S just for family duties, as the Cooper engine is perfectly good for family life. The Exclusive trim level is a bit more classy-looking than the lower-spec model, so you might prefer it, but there’s not much extra kit over the Classic.
|Mini Countryman John Cooper Works: The top JCW model has 306hp from its 2.0-litre engine and is genuinely fast and thrilling to drive. It’s a bit uncomfortable but it’s very fast, and can go from 0-62mph in just 5.1 seconds.|
|Mini Countryman Cooper SD: The older Cooper D model uses a diesel engine and is worth looking for if you do a lot of miles, but we’d skip the SD version. This is more powerful than the D but it’s less efficient and more expensive to buy.|
There are loads of rivals for the Mini Countryman as family SUVs are incredibly popular and numerous. The main ones to look out for are the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Volvo XC40 and Mercedes GLA. The Mini is a little smaller than those models, though, so it also takes on the Mazda CX-30, Audi Q2 and Volkswagen T-Roc.
The Mini has its own niche within these, as it’s one of the best family SUVs to drive. It has responsive steering, a great manual gear shift, all the engines are fun to use and have plenty of performance and there’s even a hot JCW model too. It’s not just about sporty driving, as it’s also comfortable and has an upmarket interior like most of these rivals, too.
Mini Countryman practicality: dimensions and boot space
The Mini Countryman is 4.3m long, 2m wide (mirrors included) and 1.6m high. It’s more compact than an Audi Q3 but larger than a Q2, so it sits in between those two models in terms of size. It’s quite similar in size to a Volkswagen T-Roc, too.
The Countryman has enough space in the back for adults, although the middle seat is tight. Kids will have more than enough space in the rear seats, and the materials are comfortable and supportive, so it’s a pleasant place to spend time. Headroom is decent too, and while adults will prefer the front seats to the rears, legroom in the back is okay as well.
|Length 4,297mm||Width 2,001mm|
|Height 1,557mm||Weight 1,365kg - 1,600kg|
The Mini hatch has a tiny boot, so it’s pleasing to know that the Countryman has quite a large space: 450 litres (though this drops in the PHEV version). There’s 1,390 litres with the seats folded down, too, so it’s roomy enough for bigger items like bikes on occasion as well. There’s more room in here than in some of its rivals, and it’s comparable to the Mercedes GLA, which has 445 litres with the seats up and 1,385 litres with them folded down.
|Seats up 450 litres||Seats down 1,390 litres|
The Countryman came in 36th place in the 2022 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, so ownership should be a positive thing. It finished above the Toyota Corolla and the Audi Q3 in the rankings, so reliability should be good. Mini as a brand came in ninth place overall, ahead of Toyota, which was a strong result.
The only thing to be aware of with the Countryman is that servicing costs are a little high and you’ll need to make sure the car is looked after to ensure that reliability record.
The Mini Countryman gets a three-year warranty from the factory, which is pretty standard for any car maker in the UK. However, unlike some brands, which limit this to 60,000 miles, Mini’s warranty isn’t limited at all by mileage.
Toyota and Lexus, Kia and Hyundai are brands to consider if you want a longer warranty - they offer ten, seven and five-year cover respectively, so even used models are likely to have factory warranty remaining on them. You can buy an extension from Mini, though.
|3 years||Unlimited miles|
The Mini Countryman is a great choice if you want a stylish family car. It brings the looks and quality of the Mini hatch in a larger, more practical body shape, and it’s even nearly as much fun to drive. There are plenty of engines to choose from and nearly all of them are fantastic, plus there’s even a plug-in model. It’s comfortable and easy to drive, too.
There’s enough space inside for most families, although some rivals have more space, and the boot is pretty good too. One thing to keep in mind when buying a used Mini is that the base trim levels often came with hardly any equipment as standard, and it was up to the original owner to add crucial options - so check that any specific example you are considering has the right options or packs included.
Go for the base model for the best value for money. The Classic trim still looks smart but is cheaper than the others, and the Cooper engine is the best all-rounder in the range. It’s the most economical petrol engine, has plenty of performance and is nice and quiet. The manual gearbox is a delight to use, too.
The Cooper D model is no longer on sale new, but used examples are easy to come by. Choose this version if you do a lot of motorway miles, as the engine is pretty efficient. It’s as good to drive as any of the petrol versions, too.
The Cooper S model is our favourite version for sporty driving. It’s not as uncomfortable as the high-spec JCW and still has a great engine with lots of power for overtaking. It’s fun, fast and sounds great as well.
*Representative PCP finance - 2018 Ford Fiesta 1.0 ST-Line Hatchback:
|PCP representative example||APR rates available|
|Cash price £12,000||APR 7.90%||Value of loan||From|
|Fixed monthly payment £218.12||Annual mileage of 8,000pa||£25,000+||6.9%|
|Total cost of credit £2,755.55||Term 48 months||£12,000-£24,999||7.9%|
|Optional final payment £4,285.79||Loan value £12,000||£8,000-£11,999||8.9%|
|Total amount payable £14,755.55||Deposit £0||<8,000||9.9%|
BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.