We have reached a point where a car’s name and/or moniker no longer reflects its identity, at least for MINI. What’s originally a brand that used to create small cars have grown into a much larger player, in more ways than one. The car before you now is the 2017 MINI Countryman – a C-segment crossover, which is the biggest MINI model ever!
The second-generation Countryman, a beneficiary of the UKL2 platform, is larger than the one it replaces. It’s now 200mm longer and 30mm wider than the old car. The additional 75mm on the wheelbase translates to more room inside; boot space is now at 450 litres or 1,309 litres when the rear seats are folded.
Aesthetically, the fascia is slammed with larger LED headlights and a wider gaping grille. At the back, the license plate is now located on the boot lid, in line with the current MINI models. All Countryman variants will receive silver roof rails and side sill tops as additional spices.
Stepping inside is an all-familiar MINI affair. The centre console gets an integrated digital display, whereas the bulk of the dashboard design is lifted off the current Countryman. According to MINI, refinement levels are much improved this time, and included in the package are vertical air vents as well as ambient lighting.
Apart from becoming MINI’s biggest car, the new Countryman is also MINI’s first foray into the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) class, via the Cooper S E Countryman ALL4. Sharing similar electrification technologies from BMW’s eDrive range, the S E Countryman gets an electric motor to assist the 1.5-litre three-pot petrol. Power is sent to all four wheels, as the ALL4 moniker denotes.
The PHEV Countryman has a total system output of 224 hp and 385 Nm of torque, and completes the century sprint in 6.9 seconds while maintaining an astonishing fuel consumption of 2.1 litres/100km. On electric power alone, it can travel up to 40km with a top speed of 125km/h.
If you’re not a fan of PHEV, there are two petrol and two diesel engines on the sides. There is a standard 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol that makes 136 hp and 220 Nm of torque, and the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged lump (powering the Cooper S variant) which develops 192 hp and 280 Nm of torque.
Both engines can be paired with either a six-speed manual transmission or six/eight-speed Steptronic transmission. Also offered on all variants is the ALL4 all-wheel drive system and Dynamic Damper Control.
The new MINI Countryman will make its worldwide debut in Los Angeles Motor Show next month. Look out for the debut of the new Countryman for SUV-loving Malaysians by 2017.