If you’re in the market for a new SUV, chances are a Mini might not be on your radar. To be fair, you may not have realised that Mini was even in the category. If that’s the case, you may be surprised to discover that Mini entered the SUV arena in Australia way back in 2011 with the introduction of the Mini Countryman. A couple of models later and the Mini Countryman has literally grown to become a real contender in the prestige SUV category. Necessarily, yet contentiously, larger than a traditional Mini hatch, the Mini Countryman stacks up against other prestige SUVs such as the Audi Q3 and the BMW X1 and X2.
Technically falling into the ‘crossover SUV’ niche, the Countryman brings together the best of both worlds. In the Countryman, you’ll find many of the features of an SUV including a tall interior, more storage space and higher ground clearance, combined with the car-like handling and great fuel economy you’d expect from Mini.
Simply put by Peter Anderson of CarsGuide, “The one thing you could say about the Countryman is that it still felt like a Mini, Just Bigger.”
But don’t think that just because it’s bigger, the Mini Countryman is all family car. In terms of performance, it still packs a punch, inspired by Mini’s racing pedigree.
Blink and you just might miss it. With a Mini TwinPower, turbocharged engine, 170 kilowatts of power and a top speed of 234km/h, Mini’s John Cooper Works Countryman flies in at the top of the range.
Feann Torr of motoring.com.au says, “If you want to take part in the traffic light tango, this is a hilarious car to do it in, because it’s goes off like a frog in a sock from a standing start.”
“The engine belches and growls through upshifts and generates one of the most satisfying backfire blasts on the overrun I’ve experienced in a factory standard vehicle. Fair go, it’s got more voice than Johnny Farnham; just leave it in gear and enjoy the engine-braking pandemonium.”
Coming in at just over $65,000 drive away, the high-spec Mini is aimed squarely at the motoring enthusiast. With a full body aero kit and twin-pipe sports exhaust, the JCW Countryman delivers. Embodying the essence of motorsport the vehicle comes standard with an 8-Speed Sports Automatic Transmission with Paddle Shift and Launch Control. The Chilli Red option for the contrasting roof and mirrors also gives drivers the option to unashamedly stand out.
The JCW Mini Countryman is the latest luxury car prize up for grabs in Endeavour Foundation’s upcoming Prize Home lottery. Fresh from Mini’s Oxford production plant, the prize Countryman is finished in ‘Lapis Luxury Blue’ paintwork with custom white bonnet stripes and grey leather ‘lounge’ seats. It will cut a striking vision around town or simply parked in your driveway. To find out more, or to buy tickets, click here.
While the Mini Countryman is literally bigger at over 4 metres in length, there are also some pretty big features on offer, particularly in the John Cooper Works model, that make it an appealing proposition.
Inside, the circular displays are quintessentially Mini and add a sense of fun. For Mini, it’s about making driving an experience to be enjoyed, not just a means of getting from A to B.
The JCW Countryman offers a larger 8.8” Touch Screen display as standard with wireless Apple CarPlay. The circular central instrument display is easy to use and quick to navigate. Whether you’re flicking through the functions, choosing your playlist or plotting your route, it’s all literally at your fingertips.
The Mini Navigation System offers the driver Real Time Traffic Information with the aim of improving long commutes. Other neat additions to the Countryman include a handy Heads-Up display to ensure your eyes stay on the road and also wireless mobile phone charging.
Your ears will also appreciate JCW Countryman’s powerful 12-Speaker Hi-Fi System by Harman/Kardon.
Take a look around the cabin and the extra size of this not-so-mini Mini has been put to good use. There’s genuinely plenty of space inside for the Countryman to become the everyday family car. The kids, or even adults for that matter, can sit comfortably in the back. And lots of extra storage nooks and crannies provide neat and tidy homes for all the ‘stuff’ that ends up on the road with you. The boot space in the Countryman is also impressive, with 450 litres of useable space which expands to a massive 1309 litres when you fold down the rear seats.
And of course, being a Mini, there has to be a quirky, special feature or two, just to remind you that you’re not driving your average, run-of-the-mill car. In the case of the Countryman, the first, really unique feature comes in the form of a built-in picnic bench, tucked away in the floor of the boot. Simply pop open the hatch and pull the bench from its undercover location to rest neatly on the rear edge above the bumper. Here you can sit comfortably while sheltered by the wide-opening door overhead. Just the ticket for pausing to clean the mud from your shoes after stomping the divots at the polo.
Even considering all the flashy features of the JCW model, there’s one more standard feature in all Countryman models that is the real kicker. Literally. With a kick (or tap) of your foot under the rear bumper you can automatically open and close the tailgate of your Countryman, completely hands free.
It’s all thanks to the rear sensor fitted below the bumper that picks up on your foot movement and instantly pops open the catch. If you’ve ever lugged six bags of groceries to the car or juggled two arm-fulls of baggage for a week away, you’ll understand what a game-changing feature this is. In fact, it’s such a good idea it’s hard to believe that not more car manufacturers are doing it. It’s probably just a matter of time, but in the meantime, well played, Mini, well played.
You’ll be pleased to know that the thoroughly British Mini is still… thoroughly British. Each and every Mini is meticulously made at the Mini Plant in Oxford, England.
Amazingly, the Oxford production plant spits out a Mini every 67 seconds. Each mini made to order from millions of possible variations, which means that each car on the production line is a one-off, not one of hundreds the same on the line.
And as you’d expect from Mini, your Countryman is the product of state-of-the-art automation and age-old craftsmanship.
Within the Mini plant, your soon-to-be pride and joy travels through three sub-factories. It’s first signs of life appear in the ‘Body in White’ factory. This is where your Mini’s outer shell begins to take shape. In this mind-boggling plant, 1,200 robots precisely construct the body of your Mini spot welding the parts together with absolute precision. Here your Mini is also fitted with its doors, boot and bonnet. Before moving on to the next stage, every inch of your mini shell is scrutinised by Mini’s quality control experts to ensure your vehicle meets Mini’s extraordinarily high standards.
When the scrutineers are satisfied, your Mini Countryman travels to sub-factory number two – the Paint Shop. It has to be said, however, that the Mini Paint Shop is far, far from Mini. In fact, it’s about as maxi as it gets covering more than 60,000 cubic metres.
Incredibly, it was the UK’s second biggest construction project after the Millennium Dome. It takes each Mini shell around ten hours (and a cut lunch) to move through the not-so-Mini paint Shop, right from the first corrosion protection layer to the glossy clear top coat. It’s here in the Paint Shop that each Mini gains its true personality with its own unique combination of Mini’s 16 body colours, five contrasting roof colours, bonnet stripes, mirror caps and side scuttles. Your Countryman receives a final oven bake to ensure that its very British paintwork will endure in Australia’s tough conditions.
The third and final stage in the production journey is a trip through the Assembly factory to add all of the interior finishing touches to your Mini. Here your engine is assembled by hand and then fitted snugly under the bonnet by a team of three: one robot and two human workers.
Finally, your Mini Countryman is complete and ready to leave Oxford for the long journey to Australia.
Become a Star Supporter by May 29 2019 to be in the running to win this MINI Countryman valued at $60,426
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