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2017 Mini Countryman first drive review

Tired of its position as a provider of second or third vehicles in the family garage, Mini set about repositioning its compact SUV as the main method of transport for couples and young families.

 This new Countryman is the result - a larger, better equipped and safer proposition, one that could woo people away from the likes of a Mazda CX-5 or Volkswagen Tiguan, and into a premium brand.



Part of growing up is knowing when to admit you were wrong. While Mini is not about to stoop to an apology, heavy revisions to the range highlight shortcomings in the old Countryman. The previous model lacked a reversing camera, front parking sensors, rear air bags and back seat air vents that now join sat nav, a powered tailgate and climate control as standard features in the new car.

 Better yet, the new Countryman is loaded with a standard safety pack that includes autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning and active cruise control systems with a semi-autonomous stop-start traffic mode.

 Acknowledging that manual and all-wheel-drive options added needless complexity to the range, every car is now equipped with a conventional six-speed auto transmission and all but the top-of-the-range Cooper SD drive the front wheels.