BEHIND THE WHEEL: Mini Countryman S
MONDAY MAY 11, 2015
Something's hit me in days of late, we already know cars that are priced below 100 thousand do not lose much of their value in years to come but the same could be said for those that are under 300 thousand. Take a Mark 5 Golf Gti for instance, I was once offered 180 (or less) for one back in 2008 and could he sell for a good 85 after 8 years of use seems to hold its value well. On the other hand, an Audi A4 would fetch at least half its value after a 5-year period.
This got me thinking of having some fun with a Mini Cooper S Countryman All4. I could see myself living in that Mini lifestyle where people who drive it are carefree and laid back where the Countryman is taken for adventurous activities. It is a completely different car from what I'm used to in the garage as they're all quite serious and business executive-ish where the Mini is quite the opposite. I could even see a mirage of me driving up Genting Highlands on damped, foggy roads.
Mini were said to be impractical and too cute to be a man's car but I think all that's a bit rubbish because do you go marry someone just to have children? Even if the stereotypes were true, the Countryman debunks all of that nonsense, offering plenty of space for its passengers (where the back seats recline and slide) and a decent amount of boots pace. I must admit that the Countryman looks a little strange at first but I love the way it looks in the metal.
I admired the way that the All4 model drives with so much enthusiasm when I first drove it four years ago and truth be told, I prefer the way it drives over the hatch model as it offers plenty of fun and grip. Buyers were also offered optional extras like Harman/Kardon stereo, satellite navigation and panoramic sunroof which are all great. Unfortunately, these were all taken away when the Countryman went locally-assembled where one has to settle with whatever that has been chosen.
Surprisingly fun to drive
Feels faster than suggested
Front wheel drive offering
No choice on optional extras
(260Nm on overboost)
0-100 km/h: 7.8s
Top speed: 212 km/h
Worst of all, Mini Malaysia is currently selling the Countryman in front-wheel-drive form which is nearly as bad as having a diesel powered Lamborghini. I just do not get the idea of having a front wheel drive SUV that cannot handle a bit of mud or rain. If fuel economy is what you’re after, simply get a regular hatchback because the sacrificial on handling for a raised ride height is massively stupid. Yes very much so in a FWD Mazda CX-5s.
That being said I did take a front driven Countryman for a spin. It was surprisingly fun to drive even though the traction control is intrusive and it rides rather well on run-flat tyres. That aside, the Countryman’s interior now looks dated. It's paddle shifters are extremely counter intuitive and the driving position is strange. One of the selling points of a Mini is that it offers ample of customisations great for those who are all about individualism but the local dealer is anti-choice. What they've done is taken all of that away and decided on what’s best for us all.
All that Mini magic couldn't tempt me into buying one, no thanks to communist doctrine.