2021 Mini Countryman S ALL4 Proves Bigger Isn't Always Better | MiniAuto

Starting price: $34,750

The original Mini of the 1960s traded in neatness and fun, but the need for practicality and space has steadily increased the elements that make up a Mini. The four-door Mini Cooper Countryman 2021, the largest member of the Mini family, pushes the boundaries of what Mini means. A larger Mini may be a more popular and profitable Mini, but expanding the concept doesn't necessarily make for a better car.

Although the 2022 Countryman is on sale now, we sampled the identical 2021 version. Countryman mini upgrade version for 2021; Changes include a redesigned front end and a number of other aesthetic changes such as new wheels and more exterior color options. Inside, there's a newly available digital instrument cluster and Amazon Alexa connectivity. The Mini also improved cooling for both Countryman's BMW-sourced three- and four-cylinder turbocharged engines, but the changes don't alter their outputs.

HIGHS: Ultimate practicality for a fun, small, BMW-sourced turbo-four engine that saves fuel on the highway.

Mini sent us a Countryman Cooper S, and the "S" means it ditches the standard 134hp turbocharged three-cylinder for the larger 189hp 2.0-liter turbo. The add-on adds $2800 to the Cooper 2022's $29,950 base price, but we'd say it's worth it because the three-cylinder engine is a bit overworked in the Countryman. All-wheel drive is optional — ALL4 in Mini-speak — an extra $2000 and an eight-speed automatic transmission; Front-wheel drive models have a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Our ALL4-equipped test car weighed in at no less than 3693 pounds, but hit 60 mph in a solid 6.7 seconds. If you want more speed, Mini will sell you a wagon-like Mini Cooper Clubman S ALL4, and BMW, Mini's parent company, will happily sell you the Countryman's platform companion, the BMW X2 xDrive28i .

The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine offers ample acceleration at low speeds, especially with the transmission in Sport mode, and the exhaust gasp in high-revving gearshifts is captivating. We also enjoyed the fluid and fluid operation of its variable-torque actuator. It wasn't until we tried passing motorists that we aspired to get the 301-horsepower Countryman JCW. That special edition is the fastest Mini we've ever tested, hitting 60 mph in an unexpected 4.4 seconds, and it beats the car's 5.4-second 50 to 70 mph run time. Our test for two full seconds.

LOW: Less sporty than other Minis, harsh ride on 19-inch wheels, very expensive top trim.

Arguably the best part about driving a Mini is the fun factor. The quick steering and firm suspension feel more agile and lean than the Mercedes-Benz GLA250 or Volvo XC40. With all the weight to carry, Countryman seems reluctant to knock corners fast. Our example rode on the optional 19-inch Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 summer tires, a free replacement for the standard all-season. Despite the stiffer rubber, our car registered a grip of 0.86 g on the skates. While the short sidewalls of this wheel and tire combo enhance steering feel, they also cause the Countryman to crash into broken pavement and contribute to a stiff ride - this is a weakness of the Mini. Stopping from 70 mph takes a distance of 176 feet.

We were stopped by the $43,600 test price of our flagship iconic trim. An $8500 package, Iconic adds adaptive dampers, 5.0-inch digital gauge cluster, head-up display, Harman/Kardon sound system, panoramic sunroof, tailgate power adjustment and many infotainment upgrades.

Loaded or not, the Countryman offers enough cargo space to accommodate six suitcases with five passengers on board. Both its roof and driver's seat are 4.6 inches taller than the Clubman's, and that higher seating position is what many buyers want. With a 2.0-liter engine, the 2021 Countryman S ALL4 hits an EPA estimate of 23 mpg city, 31 highway, and 26 combined. In our 75 mph fuel economy test, it exceeded those numbers and posted an impressive 39 mpg. Combined with a calm cruising demeanor, the Countryman swallows highway miles, even if it registers a somewhat loud 72 decibels inside at 70 mph.

The Countryman's high seating position and interior space give the brand a vehicle that resembles a utilitarian crossover. But the Mini is known for its premium small cars. For drivers who prefer the neater, more enjoyable handling for which Minis have long been known, the Countryman proves that a bigger Mini is not necessarily a better Mini.

2021 Mini Countryman S ALL4 Proves Bigger Isn't Always Better | MiniAuto 2021 Mini Countryman S ALL4 Proves Bigger Isn't Always Better | MiniAuto Reviewed by Dang Nhan on July 13, 2021 Rating: 5

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