The Mini Countryman is now in its second generation and even though it has always been the most practical Mini to own and live with, the company says this new car gets even better. It is also referred to as an SUV by many owing to the relatively big dimensions it can boast of. But there’s a lot that has changed with this generation. Apart from the usual petrol mills you also have the diesel variant (which is what we sampled) and it is now locally assembled in India, which makes it a little more within your reach.

Looks

The contrast roof and the bonnet stripes just make this Mini look extremely appealing. The roof rails along with plastic cladding all around the car add a sporty touch too. Along with the LED headlamps the car also gets LED Fog lamps. On the rear the LED lamps along with chrome laden exhaust pipes add a bit more style to the car.  However the 17-inch wheels do look slightly smaller when looking at overall dimensions and one size bigger wheels that have been put on the JCW Inspired variant of the car would’ve been just perfect. However the width and the wheelbase are both impressive that ensures the imposing profile this Countryman possesses. The car is 20 cm longer and 3 cm wider than its predecessor.

Powered front seats with memory and a two-piece panoramic sunroof are good additions to this diesel variant.

Interiors

The interiors are very Mini with familiar elements like an all black colour theme. Since this SD variant is not available in the top spec it misses out on some key features including a rear parking camera and the 8.8 inch touch screen seen in other variants of the car. However, the screen is good to use as the layout is simple and touch responsive. And to compensate for the parking camera there’s a park assist control along with a park assistance package on the car. Powered front seats with memory and a two piece panoramic sunroof are a good addition to this diesel variant. Ergonomics are good on the car with a lot of storage options available on both the rows. Boot space stands at 450 litres and can be increased to an impressive 1309 litres once the rear seat is folded down. What also charms you is the automatic tailgate that adds both flair as well as practicality.

Engine

Apart from this diesel SD variant we tested, the new Countryman also comes in Cooper S and Cooper S JCW Inspired variants, both of which run on a petrol engine. Now with 190 bhp the former sprints to 100 kmph in 7.7 seconds and the car goes to a top speed of 220 kmph. In contrast the 2.0 litre 192 bhp Petrol variant is slightly quicker and goes to a top speed of 225 kmph.  But on the diesel the good thing is the mileage which stands at 19.19 kmpl. This is much higher than the 14.41 kmpl promised on the petrol variants. And at 400 Nm it is pretty capable to give you a good, fun drive something you expect from every single car from the brand. An 8-speed ZF Automatic transmission also adds to the sporty character but sadly this SD variant misses out on paddle shifts. The car also offers different driving modes based on your riding styles. These include the standard mid mode along with a choice of Sport & Green mode. These modes change the Drive, transmission, steering and sound settings as well.

Handling & Ride

It’s all about great handling on the Countryman. Notwithstanding the slightly bigger dimensions when compared to other Mini cars this crossover does a great job in this respect and provides a stable and confident drive. Ride is a bit hard initially but improves significantly once you attain higher speeds. The steering wheel is a mixed bag and since Mini still wants to give you that sporty feel, it is a bit on the heavier side. And as you’ll experience in almost every Mini the brakes perform really well, sometimes a little too well for your comfort so you have to be gentle while using them. When it comes to safety this Countryman gets dual airbags, brake assist, dynamic stability control as well as cornering brake control.

Verdict

The good thing about a car like the Countryman is that comes with virtually no direct competition. It stands out in a crowd and gives you the exclusivity you’re looking for while spending around Rs 40 lakh.  Albeit some key features are missing in this SD variant, if you’re looking for a practical Mini to be a part of your everyday life, the new Countryman fits the bill quite well.

 

Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars

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