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Thoughts on the Countryman

Discussion in 'R60 Countryman (2010-present)' started by Deutsch Marques, Mar 7, 2011.

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    Deutsch Marques

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    No sub-forum for the Countryman? If this should be posted elsewhere, feel free to move it (mods.)

    My wife and I both like the MINI, and have wanted one for years. However, since she never drives and we only need one daily driver, we've never been able to justify a Cooper with it's "limited practicality" as a replacement for my Passat wagon. When the Clubman came out we looked again, but still couldn't justify it despite how much fun both the Cooper and Clubman were to drive.

    So we went down to Hartford again this weekend to check out the Countryman. First of all, let me say that I despise SUVs and have a strong dislike for crossovers. Wagons and hatchbacks are where it's at, and I wish more Americans would take on that European mindset.

    My first impression was seeing Coopers and Countrymen sitting side by side in the lot. Despite the size difference, the 6" taller Countryman didn't look that big. In the showroom, they had several of each model, and we were able to thoroughly compare each car. The Countryman does have more cargo capacity than any previous MINI, but it still paled in comparison to what I am used to. However, the extra doors and room in the back makes a huge difference for back-seat passengers! We're a household of two, but there are occasions we tote other people around, as I hate being a passenger in other people's cars.

    Next we got to drive it. We took a Countryman S All4 6-speed on a short route along a couple city roads, a parking lot, and a quick sprint on the highway. They did not have any sports package or sports suspension-equipped examples. Having just driven a VW Tiguan earlier in the week as a loaner car, I was able to compare the Countryman to one of its listed competitors. It did indeed drive more like a car... a MINI and didn't have the floaty, disconnected feel I've had in any other crossover I've driven, including the VW. In the parking lot, the car cornered better than my wagon with an Eibach suspension. At highway speed, the Countryman seemed softer and less responsive, but the salesman suggested I hit the Sport button, which made a world of difference tightening up the steering and throttle response.

    In the end, the test drive was a little too short, and there were others lined up and waiting to take this demo model out as well. The styling is MINI, but I like it less than the Cooper or even the Clubman. And while the car drove much better than I expected, I'm having a hard time with the crossover genetics. I would have preferred to see one with the sports suspension, or perhaps even a 2-3" drop from an aftermarket kit. Or better yet, why couldn't they just make a true CAR with the same seating for four and increased practicality. That would have been something very hard to resist!

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