Fun. Plucky. Extroverted.
These are some of the labels that describe the Mini brand that’s been around in one form or another since 1959. The 2024 Mini Countryman is bigger than the traditional Mini, not to mention any of the cars that came before it, but it does its best to hang onto the DNA that made the original so iconic.
At 4,310 mm (169,7 in), the Countryman is a full 452 mm (17.8 in) longer than its three-door sibling. It may not hold a candle to the traditional look of the little one, but it does stay true to modern Mini styling cues and manages to be cute while adding more practicality. This Untamed Edition’s unique 18-inch wheels, gloss-black exterior trim, and side striping adds a little more pizazz. Inside, the Countryman is put together well with a minimalistic look, but the older design has been mostly eclipsed by the rest of the industry.
In addition to the wheels and exterior accents, the Untamed Edition adds a Nappa leather steering wheel and an upgraded lighting package. There are various instances of “Untamed” logos inside and out, including a backlit one on the passenger side dashboard. Momentum Grey exterior paint (pictured here) and Highland Green leather seating are also Untamed exclusives. It looks a lot cooler than the regular version, that’s for sure. The changes are all cosmetic, and performance upgrades only happen when stepping up to the John Cooper Works trim, although that can’t be combined with the Untamed look.
Other standard features seen on the regular S models include transmission paddle shifters, push-button start, a panoramic sunroof, heated and power-adjustable front seats with driver’s side memory, automatic climate control, navigation, Apple CarPlay, power-folding mirrors with an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and a head-up display.
Unfortunately, being a little long in the tooth means today’s popular driver assists are neither standard nor optional. There’s no forward collision warning with automatic braking, no adaptive cruise control, no blind-spot monitoring, and no lane-keeping assist. Some or all of these features are equipped on just about every other competitor out there.
Families who install and move around child seats regularly may balk at the anchors, too – especially if their seat has a bulkier self-tightening connector. While the anchor positions themselves are easily accessible, the plastic covers swing upwards and can get in the way. Other vehicles do better with removable plastic covers or use fabric/leather covers secured by Velcro.
As a subcompact crossover, the Mini Countryman effortlessly gets around tight urban environments and doesn’t sweat its size. It has most of the advantageous sightlines and higher seating position of a CUV, which also helps with ingress and egress versus the low-slung three-door Mini. There’s no power tailgate with this trim, but the relatively small hatch makes it light enough to operate.
The cabin features many hard buttons and dials that are ergonomically superior to any touch interface. A row of neat chrome toggle switches controls functions such as parking sensors, ignition stop-start, traction control, and drive modes. The infotainment is controllable with either the touchscreen or via a dial on the console; both are pretty intuitive to use, but too many layers of menus bury many relatively basic functions. Wireless Apple CarPlay was a bit buggy and refused to pair occasionally during this test. Meanwhile, Android users won’t have that problem because there’s no Android Auto at all.
Regarding other tech and gadgets, the flip-up head-up display is useful but is mounted lower than most windshield-projected displays. An LED-lit multi-colour ring around the infotainment screen is a neat touch that changes and sweeps to show volume control, temperature adjustments, or engine revs, depending on the function used. The Countryman also has wireless phone charging, but the older design is laughably tiny and will not accommodate larger modern smartphones.
The Mini Cooper Countryman has seating for five, and four adults can sit comfortably with good leg- and headroom for a vehicle of this size. Forward or rear-facing child seats work well but take up a little legroom for the front-seat passengers ahead of them. In the back, there’s 450 L of cargo space with the rear seats up, and capacity grows to 1,390 L with the seats folded. In real-world terms, expect the Countryman to do well for small families without giant strollers or other child-sustaining equipment.
The Untamed Edition’s Highland Green leather visually makes a great first impression that’s not a tacky throwback to the 1970s. Comfort levels are more than up to the task of daily motoring, with good support and adjustment with the power front seats.
On the road, ride quality is on the firm and sporty side, which is on brand for Mini. The stiff run-flat tires make themselves known when driving over rougher surfaces, with extra noise and harshness. Body control is good, and there aren’t many additional motions as the springs and shocks do their thing.
Under the hood, the Cooper S Countryman comes equipped with a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 189 hp. Its 206 lb-ft of torque is available between 1,350 and 6,400 rpm. Even though the torque peak happens so soon, the engine still needs a moment for the turbo to get going before the big Mini can rocket off the line. After this initial sluggishness, the motor feels like one of the best four cylinders in the business, delivering relatively smooth and bold performance. A little more power would be nice, although the 301 hp of the flagship John Cooper Works models is probably a little too much of a good thing.
For all Countryman models, the only transmission offered is an eight-speed automatic that delivers fast and crisp upshifts and may be confused for a performance-oriented dual-clutch unit. While those often come with poor refinement at low speeds, the Countryman’s well-calibrated conventional automatic delivers the best of both worlds. The paddle shifters attached to the steering wheel add an extra element of fun to the equation, too.
Driving Feel: 9/10
With the firm suspension and fun powertrain, the Mini is one of the better choices for driving enthusiasts in the premium subcompact crossover segment. The brakes are grabby but stop well, and the steering is responsive and weighted on the heavier side. It feels well-connected to the road, and zooming around every highway on-ramp is the best way to enjoy the Countryman. It gives the impression that a ton of grip is available, despite being equipped with somewhat narrow 225-mm wide all-season tires here. A slightly wider summer wheel and tire package would spice things up even more.
Fuel Economy: 8/10
Official fuel consumption figures come in at 10.4 L/100 km in the city, 7.5 on the highway, and 9.1 combined. At a minimum, mid-grade fuel is required, with premium recommended. After about 500 km of testing, real-life consumption was 8.5 L/100 km.
The Countryman is a bit thirstier than the BMW X1, in line with the Mercedes-Benz GLA 250, and more frugal than the more powerful Alfa Romeo Tonale (non plug-in hybrid). The Lexus UX 250h hybrid will consume a third less fuel than the Mini and will do it on regular-grade gas.
The Mini Cooper S Countryman starts at a base price of $44,190, and the Untamed Edition balloons to $52,835 as-tested, including destination and air conditioning charges. Compared to its peers mentioned above, the Germans might be nicer cars overall. Still, this Mini is the one that tries to be not too serious and has the most fun just being itself. The Alfa comes close in that regard but is let down by its powertrain – although a plug-in hybrid is available. The Lexus has a more prestigious interior and gets excellent hybrid fuel economy, but it has less space and no sporting intentions whatsoever.
The 2024 Mini Countryman will surely put a smile on your face while adding a dash of practicality. The extra ground clearance and all-wheel drive will help with Canadian winters (yes, you still need winter tires).
While its relative size might go against the whole ethos for Minis, the Countryman is still buckets of fun with a few extra creature comforts. Without any driver safety assist systems, its pricing of more than $50,000 hurts the Countryman simply because it’s been around for a few too many model years. It’s a fun choice, but there are fresher options for your money in the BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA 250.
|Engine Cylinders||Turbo I4|
|Peak Horsepower||189 hp @ 5,000–6,000 rpm|
|Peak Torque||206 lb-ft @ 1,350–4,600 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||10.4 / 7.5 / 9.1 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||450 / 1,390 L seats up/down|
|Model Tested||2024 Mini Countryman S Untamed Edition|
|Price as Tested||$52,835|
$6,300 – Untamed Edition, $6,300