BEHIND THE WHEEL: Mini Countryman S All 4
TUESDAY OCTOBER 4, 2011
Comical driving experience
Seats four in comfort
Pricey for what it is
(260 Nm on overboost)
0-100 km/h: 8.3s
Top speed: 215 km/h
From RM 285,000
I haven’t had a cigarette between my fingers for quite some time. At some point, you may want to feel that nicotine high and bear that awful smell from those little sticks. Once you start and you’re hooked advised the elderly. That’s true, but not entirely, perhaps a little. And that is coming from a person who binges on no less than two cups of coffee a day.
When we were little, we were told by smokers “don’t do what I do” and by our parents to stay away from that maki-like wrap did give us a negative mindset on cigarettes. At the end of the day, we are the ones to judge whether or not to adopt the such a habit.
To me, the Mini Countryman is very much like cigarettes. It looks like any other weird looking crossovers on computer screen but in person, it tells a different story. The slab of metal side grills, the 18” alloys and the two-tone colour gives the Countryman proper presence. Being a Mini, it should be impractical but it has four doors. It even has a decent boot size of 350 litres.
When I got into the driver’s seat, it felt a little weird as almost everything is almost the same in the Cooper S but taller. While in the back, I had ample headroom and legroom. So I had to have a go in this thing. Furthermore the Countryman’s dash is filled soft touch materials, metal finishes and neat switches give a premium feel. It ignites with a press on the Start/Stop button and the wonderful exhaust could be heard. Shifted it into D and I wandered into the open roads. At first, I drove as sanely as possible to find out if the Countryman S is comfortable. Yes it is but the get louder when speeds go more than 100km/h.
Then to see what is the S truly made of, have it into manual and sports mode. Having 181hp and 240Nm of torque on my right foot will propel this car from zero to hundred in 8.3 seconds. To be honest, it does not feel fast due to having a four wheel drive system. In the twisty bits, this Countryman handles well with minimal under steer and feels even more go-kart like than its 3-door hatch sibling.
In my opinion, I find that the handling in the Countryman is better than Cooper's. With such a strong chassis, this Countryman can most definitely handle another 50 horses or even another 100. I’ve been told on videos and magazines that All4’s isn’t as much fun nor is it as sharp as the standard coupe but I digress. When I was doing the twisty roads at a considerably fast speeds in a Cooper S, all its does is twitch left and right despite having an intrusive traction control sytem. As for sharp corners, at full throttle, it under steers in and over steers out.
If you want a car that’s quick and grips well in the bends, get a Golf GTi. The Cooper S on the other hand more to the styling department. As for the Countryman S, its four drive system sorts out most of the under and over steer. On top of that, the auto box in this higher riding Mini shifts better. As a result, the more I drove the more I want one, very much like cigarettes.
Having a price tag of 285 thousand ringgit and an additional of 15K for a colourful screen and another 10 for sunroof is pretty expensive for a car at this size. If I were to get ones of these hot buns, I’ll opt for the coloured screen that also comes with fancy speakers to round it off at 300k. Additionally, it should come with four leather seats instead of five in fabric. The only thing that this Mini is lacking is that bit of power.