2012 MINI Countryman

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2011 MINI Cooper Countryman S: Flash Drive

This 2011 review is representative of model years 2011 to 2012.
By Staff of MSN Autos

For anyone that has always wanted a MINI but couldn't live with only two doors, the Countryman is a dream come true. With four full-size doors, it is far more convenient than any other MINI, especially if you have children who need a child safety seat. Yet the Countryman manages to be almost as much fun as the standard MINI, with better handling and performance than any similar vehicle in spite of the smallish turbocharged 1.6-liter engine. While that engine is the same one found in other MINIs, it doesn't deliver the same fuel-economy in the Countryman. The "utility" vehicle's larger size and weight had a noticeable impact at the pump, as I managed only about 26 mpg in mixed driving (5 mpg less than I average in my own 2-door Mini Cooper S). And while the trunk space is larger than in a 2-door MINI, it is not massively so. –Paul Hagger

The MINI Cooper S Countryman is bigger and more versatile than any other MINI model, with four doors and available all-wheel drive. It is taller, wider and heavier than its siblings, and in the process has lost some of its MINI-ness. But maybe it's not fair to compare the MINI Countryman to its siblings at all, because when compared to other compact crossovers, the Countryman is still nimble, sporty and fun to drive, especially in Cooper S trim with a turbocharged 181-horsepower engine and 6-speed transmission. Bottom line: The Countryman is quick and responsive, relatively easy on fuel and accepts four passengers and more cargo than any other MINI. Not bad. –Mike Meredith

If you love the way a MINI Cooper drives, but feel a little cramped inside, they've now made the perfect car for you. The MINI Countryman gets you a true back seat that doesn't feel claustrophobic, and with actual rear doors this small crossover is easy to get in and out of. The car still looks like a MINI, but perhaps one that's been munching on steroids. Many will say that there's no way this taller, larger vehicle can handle as well as the go-kart-like Cooper, and they'd be right. But you get about 90 percent of that fun-to-drive feel, and for most people, 90 percent of MINI performance is still better than almost anything else out there. Our tester was the higher-performance Cooper S, but it wasn't equipped with the available all-wheel drive, which would have been useful. I had a hard time getting traction in the rain with 181 horsepower going through the front wheels. –Perry Stern

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BB01 - 9/1/2014 7:15:12 AM