Story and Photos by Monch Henares
|Fifty shades of blue. 2022 Mini Cooper S Countryman in the hills of Tanay, Rizal |
(Photo by Monch Henares)
When you compare the MINI Cooper S Countryman to the other MINI models, you would definitely see a huge striking difference. It is the largest and roomiest among the siblings, thus making it the most practical for everyday travel. But, could it be less of an exciting ride than its nimble brothers?
The Countryman’s interior has that retro vibe with its combination of round dials and toggle switches, with intuitive ambient lighting. It looks and feels premium to the touch.
The sporty fully-adjustable front seats are snug and pretty comfortable to sit on. I loved the extendable leg supports, though I didn't have much to extend due to my short legs.
|Comfortable sport seats|
It definitely is not a mini (small) when you get inside it. The legroom and ceiling height won't make a 6-ft passenger claustrophobic.
|Spacious rear seating area|
The interior combines a stylish and ergonomic design with a very acceptable NVH (Noise, Vibration, Harshness) suppression. The cabin is roomy and the cargo space is versatile too.
|Versatile cargo area|
I'm glad that the new Countryman kept the MINI retro styling in check. I was instantly attracted to the DRLs that outline the projector LED headlamps. The headlights were quite bright and lit up most of the road ahead. The taillights can also get pretty bright, and it’s probably the most noticeable element in the rear thanks to the cool Union Jack pattern that begs to be noticed.
The Countryman has adventure written all around it. It wears Continental road tires mounted on18-inch two-tone alloys. Apart from that, it comes with an ample ground clearance of 165mm, just perfect for those countryside mountain trips.
While driving through the uphill wiggly roads of Tanay, Rizal, the Countryman's handling was solid and the body (though the ride height is higher than a regular MINI) remained compost and planted. I didn't feel much of body roll on the sharp bends. My drive was so precise and engaging, I felt the car was an extension of me. That could be the sophisticated BMW engineering taking over.
The MINI Countryman to me is one of the exciting compact crossovers out there. The steering is sharp, direct, and provides constant feedback.
Braking is sure-footed, and the overall ride is smooth, thanks to the well-engineered chassis borrowed from BMW. The sport tuned suspension can get a little harsh on rough roads, but ain't that the thrill?
The Countryman did awesomely well on the highway as well. Overtaking and lane changes were effortless, accurate, and seamless.
The Cooper S Countryman sports the brand’s Twin-Power Turbo 2.0-liter engine that releases 192 hp and 280 Nm of torque and is mated to an 8-speed Steptronic dual-clutch transmission. Shifting is smooth and the gears syncs well together . As per our test, this MINI can easily get to more than 200 km/h and stay compost and stable at those speeds.
The powertrain configuration is a perfect match for the Countryman's weight and size. We hit an average of 11 km/l while driving in city streets, and 20 km/l on our highway run. I was quite surprised how much traveling I could do on one tank of fuel.
|Twin-Power Turbo 2.0-liter engine that releases 192 hp and 280 Nm of torque|
What’s more impressive about the Countryman is that it comes with a cruise control system that also has a emergency braking function. It’s not a complete a adaptive cruise control feature, but it’ll be enough to keep you from ramming the back of the car in front of you. Other than that, it gets eco, standard, and sport driving modes that can be selected with the retro toggle switches at the base of the center console. The driving experience is further enhanced by the heads-up display that is clear and bright in the day, and unobtrusive in the nighttime. Other tech features include a power tailgate, a wireless charging pad, as well as USB-C charging ports.
The center screen that comes is 8.8-inches in size can either be controlled by the touch screen interface or the “i-Drive” system that uses a knob. Sad news for Android fans, it does not have the Android Auto interface, but it has Apple CarPlay and Wireless Apple CarPlay. So, for those of you with the latest iPhones, it's a winner.
The Harman/Kardon sound system that boasts of good levels of sound quality made up for the lack of driver assistance features in its Technology Package
The Countryman is well-equipped with regards to safety. With a total of six airbags, ABS with EBD, parking sensors, stability control, traction control, a reverse camera, tire pressure monitoring, and ISOFIX tethers, it's a decent package.
The MINI will always retain its iconic head-turner look, and admit it we all are in love with it. I for one am impressed with the superb drivability and the top-notch engineering that was used to make the MINI Countryman. It's economical and truly fun to drive, but will you pay P3,750,000 to experience all that? The price is a bit on the premium side. It would make more sense to purchase one if it came fully loaded with all the driver assist, safety, parking assist, Android Auto, and moonroof features.
He managed the motorpool for a limousine company in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. He is now based in Manila, Philippines, and is the President of BuildMeUp Corp.
You may e-mail him at email@example.com
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