FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE is useful for motorists, but it isn’t necessarily needed all the time, so MINI has a smart and fuel efficient answer for this conundrum: the Countryman All4.

The car is a ‘crossover’ – a front-wheel drive car in most normal circumstances, but when wheel slip on the front wheels is detected, or if the car is being driven enthusiastically, a special clutch engages drive to the rear wheels to improve traction. It’s useful, not to mention reassuring, if you’re driving in wet, muddy or snowy conditions.

The Cooper SD version of the Countryman, under review here, is the most powerful diesel variant in the MINI line-up. As well as four-wheel drive capability, its 2.0 litre 143bhp engine offers a 0-62 sprint of 9.4 seconds and bags of pulling power. In this guise, the car is also capable of towing up to 1000kg on a braked trailer, making it a rather multi-talented motor.

Looks-wise, the Countryman has a familiar MINI appearance, albeit distinctly different to any that have gone before. The front is very upright; projecting a confident ‘face’ and it is longer, wider and higher, offering more luggage capacity than a MINI Hatch. In addition, the SD model has a front apron with an extra large air intake and an air scoop on the bonnet. At the rear, the car sports twin exhaust tailpipes exiting in the centre of the rear apron and an eye-catching roof spoiler.

Inside, the car is dominated by iconic design characteristics such as grippy sports seats, the trademark central speedometer and neat, funky switch packs. A nifty further feature is the MINI centre rail which runs from front to rear instead of a conventional centre console. It opens up new options for integrating all kinds of storage boxes, cup holders, power chargers, music players, mobile phones and other accessories. However, the Countryman is as much about comfort and traditional practicality as it is innovative style. From the four wide-opening doors to the high-opening rear hatch, it is easy to get into and out of, and a dream to load.

The MINI Countryman could prove to be a popular choice of car because the demand for crossover vehicles has grown considerably recently. Many drivers want the best of both worlds: normal saloon-like driving responses as well as the added convenience of soft off-road ability, and the interior flexibility to cope with all the activities that are part of busy modern life. The Cooper SD All4 appears to tick all these boxes and certainly shows that practicality and versatility does not limit the pleasure that can be derived from driving.

Click here to read a published review (pdf format) of the Mini Countryman Cooper SD A114 – Chic Lifestyle Magazine

Click here to read a published review (pdf format) of the Mini Countryman Cooper SD A114 –  Fine City Magazine

PROS ‘N’ CONS

  • Stylish
  • Comfortable
  • Practical
  • Fun
  • Economical
  • Too trendy for some X
  • Not cheap X

FAST FACTS

  • Max speed: 121 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 9.4 seconds
  • Combined mpg: 57.6
  • Engine: 1995 cc, 4 cylinder, turbo diesel
  • Max. power (bhp): 143 at 4000 rpm
  • Max torque (lb/ft): 225 at 1750-2700 rpm
  • Max. towing weight (braked) 1000 kg
  • CO2: 130 g/km
  • Price: £23,190 On the road

 

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