14.9.2010 Mini Countryman Cooper D All 4 review
It's all in the categorisation, but if you consider a taller body, raised suspension and the ability to switch engine power between front and rear wheels makes this Mini a sports utility vehicle (SUV), then at 129g/km CO2 it's the lowest emission SUV you can buy.
Prices start low enough to pitch the non 4WD Countryman against Ford's Focus, excluding discounts, but Mini says its main rival is Nissan's Qashqai – because of the cabin space and boot capacity, though the Mini is shorter even than the Nissan Juke. All 3,000 Countrymans due this year are already sold and 80% are All 4 versions suggesting people fear another snowy winter.
Review by Russell Bray for WhatGreenCar.com
Adequate rather than exciting unless you splash nearly £21,000 on the 130mph turbocharged petrol Cooper S. The all-new 1598cc engine from the BMW 1-Series in the Cooper D (diesel) and four-wheel drive All 4 version tested delivers 199 lbs ft of torque from 1750rpm and 110bhp at 4000rpm. The 115g/km CO2 rating of the front wheel drive only model rises to 129g/km for the All 4 which still makes it the 'greenest' 4x4 'crossover' on the market. Top speed is 112mph with 0-60mph in 11.4 seconds.
Still fun on the right road, but much greater size and weight plus a longer wheelbase for much needed rear-seat legroom means it's not as kart-like as a standard Mini hatchback. Steering is still sharp about the straight ahead though. Stability was good under heavy braking even when lightly laden despite higher profile tyres with taller sidewalls. Most drivers will like that the raised driving position and rear parking sensors are standard, though the car is only 15in longer than the hatchback.
Obviously a member of the Mini family though more maxi in size with very wide opening rear doors for easy access and a high lifting tailgate. Front styling more aggressive and less a friendly face than other versions, with different front grilles for petrol and diesel versions. Looks slightly ungainly from some angles with rear doors cut into the roof and often in contrasting colours. Vast range of colours, trims and wheels means you are unlikely ever to see two the same. Length 4097mm. Width 1789mm.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
It's the first Mini for families but the comfort of the front seats isn't matched by the back ones, even if you choose a four-seater layout rather than five with a rear bench. Taller sidewall on tyres improves general ride comfort.
An electricity conducting centre rail between the seats allows charging of phones or MP3 players and can hold cups, sunglasses, even a table. The speedometer interface with sat-nav allows reading 'tweets' on the move which seems bad for safety. Speedo is difficult to read, better to use display on steering column. Collections of minor switches for windows etc are fiddly too.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Official fuel economy: Urban 53.3mpg, extra-urban 60.1mpg, combined 57.6mpg. This translates to a fuel cost of around 9.9p per mile. But on an approved test route driving normally, this low mileage example averaged only 36.7mpg. Carbon dioxide emissions of 129g/km put the Countryman D All 4 in band D. Annual road tax is £90, first year tax is free. Insurance group 16. Warranty covers three years/ unlimited mileage.
All models come with 'intelligent' automatic stop-start, brake energy regeneration, gear change indicator, diesel particulate filter and electric power assisted steering. Mini claims BMW's new lightweight aluminium N47 engine is quieter (though I thought it very rattly from outside the car) and much more fuel efficient than the previous joint venture engine with Peugeot. The new engine uses common-rail direct injection, a turbocharger with variable turbine geometry and is fitted with an oxidation catalytic converter. Carbon dioxide emissions of just 129g/km make it the greenest SUV you can buy, and account for its impressive WhatGreenCar rating of 36.
Cooper specification includes alloy wheels, multi-function rear seats, air conditioning, electric power steering, Bluetooth phone connection, DAB radio, heated windscreen washer jets, stainless steel pedal trim, roof rails, electric windows, tyre pressure warning system, dynamic stability control and anti-lock brakes. Yet test car was loaded with £6,555 worth of extras, including Chilli pack £2,490, Xenon headlights £590, satellite navigation £995, metallic paint £385, voice control for radio etc £250 and heated front windscreen £345.
Model tested: Mini Countryman Cooper D All 4
Body-style: 'Crossover' between SUV and hatchback
Engine/CO2: 110bhp 1.6 litre turbo diesel/129gCO2/km
Trim grades: One, Cooper, Cooper S
0-62mph/Top speed: 11.4 seconds/112mph
On-road price: Models start at £16,000. Test car £19,875
Warranty: Three years/unlimited miles
In the showroom: September 18 2010
Review rating: 4.0 STARS
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