MINI Countryman (2010-2017) Review
The Mini Countryman is a much more practical alternative to the hatchback, but don't expect the same driving thrills
Strengths & weaknesses
- Mini image
- Option of four-wheel drive
- Good range of engines
- Not as fun as the hatchback
- Interior can be rattly
- Options can inflate prices
Mini Countryman prices from £13,290 Finance from £233.59 per month
If you fancy a used five-door Mini Hatchback but you need something with a bit more space inside, a used five-door Countryman may be the solution.
While it takes all of the stylish charm and brand appeal that comes with being a Mini, the Countryman goes a step further and taps into the booming crossover/SUV market with its raised stance, high roof and chunky looks. Throw in the optional ALL4 four-wheel drive system many first owners ordered it with and you have a seriously practical and versatile car.
It's positioned to compete against the likes of the Audi Q2, BMW X1 and even the Jeep Renegade in terms of price and size, and there's every reason to consider the Countryman if you're considering any of the other three.
A big positive for the Countryman is that it uses the same selectrion of engines you'll find in the Mini Hatchback. As a result, you can have the entry-level One trim with a petrol or diesel engine for buyers on a tight budget, the mid-range Cooper model, again with petrol or diesel power, and the fast and furious Cooper S, also with petrol or diesel power. If those aren't quick enough, there’s the high-performance John Cooper Works variant, offered with a petrol engine only.
Because the Countryman is taller and heavier, it doesn't take corners with the same agility as the Hatchback, this isn't a huge surprise but it's also not that comfortable on the largest 19-inch alloy wheels so avoid those if you can. Choose one on the smaller alloys and you’ll be much happier.
In terms of economy and performance, the 1.6-litre Cooper D is our pick, but more power is available by means of the 2.0-litre Cooper SD if you're after a little more zap from your right foot. If you intend to stray from the beaten track however, the ALL4 may be more up your street. Although it won't offer anything like the per formance of either the standard D or SD models due to some extra weight, it will offer some very capable off-roading if you need it as well as much stability in poorer weather conditions.
Inside the Countryman, you’ll enjoy much better visibility than the Mini Hatchback. It’s a reasonably spacious cabin, too, and certainly roomier than the Hatchback’s. The rear seat, which slides, is available as a two or three-seater so depending on your needs, it’s worth checking which version the example you’re interested in comes with. Meanwhile, the 350-litre boot dwarfs the Hatchback’s.
The Countryman looks butch and chunky but inside it’s Mini business as usual with an interior peppered with fussy little switches, dials and details. The model was facelifted in 2014 but the only serious changes you’ll notice between the two versions are that the later cars have their window switches on the doors, rather than the centre console.
In One trim, it's surprisingly well equipped but go for Cooper for its smarter alloy wheels. Beyond that, the higher trims don't add very much so it’s down to what option packs the first owner requested.
Fortunately, options typically cost you much less on a used car than the first owner spent on them, so unless they really went to town, a Countryman with a good level of optional extras shouldn't be much more expensive than one with only the basics.
|Boot size||350 litres|
|Tax||£30 to £260|
Best MINI Countryman for...
Best for Economy – Cooper D
Good value and no thirstier than the One D but usefully more powerful, this is our favourite Countryman.
Best for Families – Cooper SD ALL4
Powerful and, thanks to its four-wheel-drive system, safe and surefooted on- and off-road, this version of the Countryman makes the most of the model’s potential.
Best for Performance – John Cooper Works ALL4
This is by far the quickest Countryman but saying that, you’ll wish you’d bought the SD ALL4, which is a better all-rounder, instead.
One to Avoid – Cooper ALL4
The extra weight of the ALL4 four-wheel drive system severely blunts the economy and performance of the mid-power Cooper.
2010 Model launched in petrol and diesel One and Cooper forms, and with optional ALL4 four-wheel drive.
2011 Powerful 2.0 Cooper SD diesel goes on sale
2012 John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4 launched (petrol only)
2013 Recalled for risk of fire.
2014 Model mildly facelifted.
2015 Special Edition version limited to 250 examples launched. Has sat-nav, xenon lights and heated front seats.
Understanding MINI Countryman names
Trim and engines Cooper SD
Rather than making a feature of the engine size and its power, Mini combines its engines with the model’s trim levels. So in this example, Cooper indicates it’s a sporty trim while SD tells you it’s the sportiest diesel.
Mini calls its optional four-wheel drive system (it’s standard on the John Cooper Works) ALL4. It improves on and off-road grip but does affect performance and economy.
The standard gearbox is a six-speed manual but most versions are available with an optional six-speed automatic gearbox which, like the ALL4 system, reduces economy.
MINI Countryman Engines
1.6 One, Cooper, Cooper S and JCW
1.6 One D and Cooper D
2.0 Cooper SD
The low-power One and One D engines are the cheapest route to Countryman ownership but you’ll be sorry you didn't go at least for the more powerful Cooper or Cooper D versions. All four use a 1.6-litre petrol or diesel engine but the Cooper versions have more overtaking oomph through the gears. Of the four, the Cooper D is our favourite.
Next up are the Cooper S and Cooper SD engines. The S is still a 1.6 albeit turbocharged, whereas the SD diesel is a larger 2.0-litre engine. The SD is a great motorway car – effortless and relaxing – but the Cooper S is far zippier and closer to the Mini spirit.
Finally, there’s the guns-blazing John Cooper Works. Again, it’s powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine but more powerful still and comes with ALL4 four-wheel drive as standard. This system is an option on most other versions but be sure you need it because it adds weight, and hurts fuel economy and performance. In fact, it has the worst effect on the 1.6 Cooper.
MINI Countryman Trims
One and One D, Cooper and Cooper D, JCW
Entry-level One trim has air-conditioning, rear parking sensors, powered windows, Bluetooth and a digital radio but no alloy wheels. It’s fine as far as it goes but Cooper trim’s alloy wheels give the car a real lift, looks-wise. Cooper S and SD are sportier looking still but have little extra kit.
Option packs are a central feature of the Mini buying experience when new so check which ones are fitted to the used Countryman you’re interested in as these could add lots of desirable equipment. It was also possible to personalise the model quite boldly from new but as a used car, anything too extreme can affect its price and appeal.
MINI Countryman Reliability and warranty
New, the Countryman was sold with a three-year warranty, so most will now be out of warranty. The model has more than its fair share of rattles, generally from the dashboard and the doors, but they’re generally a nuisance rather than anything terminal. In 2013, the model was the subject of a recall concerning the possibility of a fire caused by moisture entering the wiring connector that powers the electronic power steering (EPS).
Used MINI Countryman
Roomy, practical and with the appeal of the Mini badge, the things that made the Countryman popular as a new car buy continue to serve it well as a used one. It’s not the cheapest compact SUV you can buy but depreciation has at least made this generation of Countryman more affordable for more people.
Cars with the balance of their original Mini TLC pre-paid servicing package are worth seeking out, as are those with desirable options, as these should give you a much better car to live with for little extra cost.
Petrol and diesel versions are as numerous as each other but be aware that early diesels are not ‘Euro 6’ emissions compliant, meaning you’ll have to pay a surcharge to enter any ultra-low emissions zone such as London’s.
Mini One versions should be cheap but if you can, stretch your budget to a Cooper variant for much greater performance with little economy penalty. ALL4 versions of the Countryman carry a premium but will cost you at the fuel pumps and in performance terms.