Snapshot: We have driven the Indian made Mini Cooper D Countryman and found it quite surprising while being practical
The British marquee Mini has been indulged in making impish-looking short-dimensioned cars since 1959. Two-door styling with short hood and smooth body curves has been the company's iconic trait. However, in 2010, Mini introduced its first-ever four-door hatch back, the Countryman in international markets that made its way in India back in 2012. Being the first Mini with total length of over four meters (4079 mm), the car boasts more legroom for rear seat occupants along with a larger boot among its other two-door kinfolks. The Countryman is available in one petrol and one diesel engine option in India and thankfully, the local assembly of diesel variant- Cooper D Countryman, which we have tested, via CKD route has helped the company to price it competitively in the market. The company touts the Countryman as a versatile model that bridges the gap between an urban city car and sport activity vehicle. We tested the car comprehensively to find out how capable the new Cooper D Countryman is.
While redesigning the MINI Countryman, BMW kept overall aesthetics and stretch features in mind so that the original DNA of the car was not lost. Bold hexagonal horizontal-slats grille at front, well-detailed large projector headlamps accompanied with turn-indicators and a heavy dose of chrome around them showcase the funkiness in the Countryman. The Countryman looks more rugged from sides, shedding the sporty appeal of Coopers with its high ground clearance and reformed four-door layout with wide C-pillar that simultaneously provokes the practicality in its design. The rear-end is modernized with bestrewed 'Countryman' badge at boot door, repositioned registration plate and dual-tone paint scheme. But vertical taillights with chrome accents accentuate the retro appeal in its overall design.
The aura of the Countryman's cabin is completely different from what you get inside other cars. As one step inside, the first thing that gathers the attention is the centrally mounted oversized speedometer incorporated with a display within it and loads of toggle switches beneath that. The mono dial tachometer is placed behind the multi-functional steering wheel featuring audio and call controls along with the paddle gear-shifters too. But getting puzzled from the plethora of buttons at the center console is not uncommon and most of the times you ended up by choosing a wrong control switch for your needed operation. Moreover, the car has only one bottle holder while, so drinking beverages can be tricky, for other occupants. The gearshift indicator is also oddly placed, a little away from the drivers’ direct field of vision.
The feel of the cabin is airy with a two-piece panoramic sunroof where every single element is modishly contoured in circular shape accentuating the car's youthful appeal. Front seats are enough comfortable with good thigh support. Blind spot is very short and driver's seat height adjustment has enough vertical travel that aids the driver to pilot the Countryman in congested urban areas easily. Same goes with the rear seat, which provides good legroom, thanks to the increased wheelbase, but suit only for two occupants due to center armrest and AC vents between front two seats. Plastic materials are of high quality and piano black finish over switches, center console and, majorly, on dual tone door panels makes the cabin look posh. Boot space is 350 liters and can be increased upto 1,175 liters by folding the rear seat in 40:20:40 layout. Delightfully, the multi-color ambience lights make the cabin look more attractive at night.
Engine and Transmission:
Cooper D Countryman is powered by a 1995cc turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel engine, which is based on BMW's Valvetronic technology. Nonetheless, don't get fooled with the prestigious brand name as engine produces only 112 BHP of power and 270 Nm torque, which is a let down! Even the much cheaper Volkswagen Polo GT TDI churns out 105 BHP and 250 Nm of torque. The engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, which is always eager to shift a cog up as the tacho needle reaches near 3000-RPM mark. Floor the throttle paddle immediately and it shifts a gear down (known as kick-down) to forthwith deliver power instantly. Though, for more enthusiastic driving experience, put the transmission in manual mode, engage the Sport mode, turn off the DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) and now you are allowed to touch the red line with a much growling experience. But engine is noticeably loud above 3000 RPM. The NVH levels are adequately fine but overall refinement level is not as satisfactory as expected from a premium segment vehicle.
Performance, Handling and Safety:
Even after being front-wheel drive, MINIs are well-known for their "go-kart" like handling and undoubtedly Countryman is no far-behind in the this business. Based on monocoque chassis, the car has a McPherson strut suspension at front and five-link setup at rear, similar to its other siblings. However, the suspension is slightly tweaked towards a stiffer ride that makes the vehicle a bit bumpy on uneven surfaces. But with a raised 149 mm ground clearance, it easily counters the exigencies of rough roads. Equipped with 307mm disc brakes at front and 280mm at rear along with several safety aids like DSC (Dynamic safety control), ABS (Anti-lock braking system) and EBD (Electronic Brake force distribution) and CBC (Cornering brake control), the car impressively reaches to a halt in just a matter of few seconds without any skid or panic attack. For enhanced levels of grip, ELDC (Electronic Differential Lock Control) comes into play when DSC is deactivated that automatically brakes the spinning tire during hard cornering and aggressive driving conditions. All passengers get front and side airbags, accompanied by curtain airbags and three-point inertia-reel seat belts for all seats.
Mini Cooper D Countryman is a car which, however, gets all the checkboxes ticked when it comes to looks, styling, design and comfort but, actually, lacks that action-packed performance, the way Minis had performed in the movies like Italian Job and Fast lane. Nonetheless, the exclusivity that Mini brand carries within itself justifies every bit of the Cooper series and which cannot be compared with any other aspect in the market. Moreover, the refurbished body style, stretched dimensions and tuned dynamics make the Cooper D Countryman a practical choice that performs sufficiently well in urban cities as well as on highways with an incredible chic magnet appeal. The Cooper D countryman reaches the Mini outlets with a price tag of Rs. 25,90,000/- (ex-showroom, Delhi). As tested this version was Rs. 29,90,000/-, ex-showroom Delhi.