MF Exclusive: MINI USA Delays Countryman for US Market

The highly anticipated MINI Countryman crossover originally intended for release in the US in early 2010 has been delayed until late 2010 at the earliest. Our sources are telling us that MINI USA is weighing the market and could decide to delay the launch up to a year pushing the first delivery dates back to early 2011.

While MINI is very happy with the final design and in fact the car itself, they are somewhat cautious about the economic realities of launching such an important car at the moment. MINI sees the Countryman filling a void for those current owners looking to upsize as they grow out of their cars and need something larger. However they want to remain flexible with the exact time to market.

As we reported earlier today the R60 will feature four seats with an optional five seat configuration. The crossover will have four doors plus a hatchback similar to the one found on the R56. Engines will range from the currently 1.6L petrol range to the new 2.0L BMW derived Diesel powerplant. Finally JCW will be releasing not one but two models. The first will feature much of the current technology found in the R56 JCW. However it’s the second that has caught our attention. With reduced weight, all-wheel drive and a hotter JCW engine it will be a surprisingly focused performance car.

But the question is, when will we see it? With the initial launch being delayed as much as a year it could be late 2011 before we see anything from upcoming JCW range.

Look for more information on the Countryman diesel range tomorrow.

  • MKH

    I can see that. With the economy still in the tank, and “official” unemployment expected to top 10.5% in 2010, the US market will be slow – not the best time for a new model launch.

  • MINIme

    Looks like they got it right (AWD, 4 doors, 5 seats and a diesel option) but I am disappointed we’ll have to wait. I really need another car right now too. Bummer…

  • hardingsan

    is there any word on how this will affect any other model launches? previous reports showed a pretty regimented schedule of releasing ~ 1 model per year.

  • That just leaves more time for me to save up cash for the hot version. :-p

  • that.guy

    Golf R

  • Ron, you beat me to the punch!

  • dstock

    Well that’s a shame, want to stay in the Mini family but with my kids getting older not sure if I can wait that long. I understand their thinking with the economy and all, but hope Mini realizes they may lose a few new and current owners by delaying the launch.


    Well from my sources I have heard that March 2011 is the most realistic time frame for this vehicle in the U.S. For now I know that the All Wheel Drive will only be available in the Cooper S or more powerful models if they should be released. Cooper’s will only be available in Front Wheel Drive. Cannot wait to see the final product in pics and ultimately in the flesh. My Co-worker (Service Advisor) saw pics of it at “Let’s Meet MINI” training and said that it looks great.

  • To Ron Myers: Ditto…

  • red

    @that.guy – exactly what I was thinking. If the four-door R20 arrives stateside it would be hard for me to choose the Countryman over the R. I’d have to test drive it, but the R looks good on paper. I would of course still keep my R53.

  • Wolfgang

    My service advisor at MINI of Annapolis told me about 2 mos ago the Countryman was delayed until at least Nov 2010…

  • Sideways Eh!

    The suspense is destroying me!!! first it was early 2010…then late 2010…now it looks like early 2011…next thing you know it will be launched in europe first and we will be a year after they get it…that puts us at late 2011 – early 2012 before we get it!!!


  • As great as a Countryman would sound, I think I will wait for the Cooper D a little bit longer. It would not shock me if MINI pulled the Countryman diesel around the time it debuts. I’d kill something for a Cooper D right now.

  • Jon

    That’s disappointing. As my family grows, I’m growing less and less fond of shoe-horning them into the back seats of my ’04 MCS. I was really looking forward to this Countryman landing on our shores, so I could stay in the MINI family. Now I’m not so sure I can wait that long…

  • aerojammin

    Well this is sad news. My wife and I starting looking today for a replacement for her SUV and I was really hoping that this would be available sooner rather than later. With her current car approaching transmission death we most likely can’t hold out that long. Thanks for the update Gabe

  • mrman78

    I might upgrade to one of these in 2012 to replace my 2006 hatch… Depends on the pricing, size, etc. but if it comes out as a 2010, that will give me two model years to decide!

  • goat

    Ok my interest has been piqued with “JCW that is lighter weight, AWD, and performance-focused”. Maybe we’ll have an interesting euro alternative to the Subaru/Mitsu awd sport sedans rather than the portly compact SUV that I have feared will make my R53 Factory JCW disassociate itself from the MINI brand when this is released? The extra “baking time” to NA release will indeed be worth it in the big picture if this is the happy scenario we get at product launch.

  • dr

    Disappointing….the kiddo will arrive before the countryman now. I will have to rethink my next purchase.

  • The delay seems logical because of the economy. However, on the other hand there are going to be a lot of interesting options available out there when this eventually hits the market.

    MINI is boring me lately with this especially considering all the nonsense BMW variants being scheduled to be dumped out on the market before hand.

  • JonPD

    There are already direct competition vehicles out there and the delay will only help Mini come into this flooded market later. Then again I can still hope for a major economic disaster to permanently kill this bastardization of the Mini brand.

    Leave it to BMW/Mini to decide to make the highest performance vehicle in the brand a SUV lol. This is from the same genius that decided to sell the soul of ///M with SUVs as well. Another fine product from Bigger Motor Works.

    I am however still looking forward to seeing the final design.

  • Pingback: Rumormill: Mini delaying U.S. launch of Countryman crossover | cars burner()

  • I have a R56 and a large suv that needs replaced. If I have to wait 1 1/2 years for the R60 four wheel drive they just lost a sale. Looks like my next ride will be volkswagen’s R20 four door.

  • that.guy
    Maybe we’ll have an interesting euro alternative to the Subaru/Mitsu awd sport sedans

    Golf R. It will rock. (And the WRX comes in a 5-door hatch as well as sedan.)

  • Far as I can tell this only makes sense if the vehicle is way too expensive, or if they’d rather just milk more X3 sales with added capacity. If it’s not, then it’s a brain dead move. The production line will be all set up, the market is expecting it. It would be a great alternative for those that want a smaller SUV replacement and on and on.

    Either they really missed the price point target, or it’s BMW being the bastard step child of BMW. Either way, it doesn’t bode well for Mini… Make your choice: Project bloat or back seat brand.


  • Evan

    It’s probably the flat car market. By delaying production and export, they’ll save some cash and not have overlapping debuts soaking up the marketing cash.

    I’m really glad I decided not wait and bought a used 325i this summer. Still have the MINI of course, but with a baby and need for a little more back seat, I needed something.

    Although, in three years I may be ready for a new family car and an AWD JCW Countryman w/5 seatbelts seems possible… Or I’ll keep the BMW and get a Speedster…

  • goat

    Good point about the Golf R. There’s the euro awd high-performance option right there!

  • Speaking of VW, I don’t think their small SUV, the Tiguan, has been doing too well either despite overall positive writeups everywhere and very reasonable price.

  • Now the question is, How much will it cost?

  • C4

    This is great news. BMW is clearly second guessing this disaster of automobile and the backpedaling on it has officially begun……. My prediction…. The R60 will be DEAD in 6-8 months.

    They know all too well that the current financial market will not support $40K “boutique” SUV inspired MINIs. They are already having problems moving existing metal out of dealer showrooms and the R60 will simply compound on the problem even more.

    The corporate in-fighting over this one must be a bloody encounter like no other in history. I am sure someone with brains and common sense, whether inside the ranks of the BMW Group and/or the controlling Quandt family have thrown their hands up in the air over this overweight pig.

    BMW, please kill the R60. Show us that someone has brains and common sense left in your organization. The R60 has been and will always be a BAD idea.

    If the SUV lemmings want an SUV, BMW already have what you are looking for. For me, crossovers suck major balls. Nothing beats the practicality of the “So old fashioned” family station wagon. Why would anyone shell over $30K for a R60 over a BMW 328i Sportwagon is beyond comprehension.,…

  • I am so happily surprised to see all the upset responses to the delay, I for one am surely one of those people.

    I was really looking forward to seeing the final version. I am an 06 R53 owner, very happy.. but I know that when the time comes for this thing to launch I will be paying very close attention. This car just seems toooo great on paper. 4 doors, check. AWD, check. Fun & power, check. MINI handling? hopefully they retained it, I’m sure they did.

    But just like everyone else also said, I’d be lying if I said the delay didn’t make me reconsider otherwise– especially a 128i… ooooo

  • Bernie

    I read that the roofline was inspired by an executive’s son wearing a backwards baseball cap.

    How heartwarming. Nothing quite says “kids” better than that design, except maybe the fake raised roof aspect.

    For the Speedster, can we get their kids to design the cooling system?

  • C4, you may say that crossovers “suck major balls” (that phrase did make me laugh), and whether or not I agree with the practicality of the station wagon is besides the point. Station wagons just don’t sell. Ask BMW about how many they sell, Audi too. Mercedes as well. Whether it’s wisdom or stupidity, the minivan killed the stationwagon, and it’s still dead!


  • Well, the Subaru Forester has been selling well for 11 years, and it looks like a wagon. Although, in your favor, the 2009 now is looking like an SUV. However, the Legacy Outback is a wagon and it’s been doing nicely for many years.

    The 3-door Clubman concept keeps it from looking like the traditional 4-door wagon. I think they should use that on the Countryman. Also, I don’t think the 1.6L engine, without turbo, will be enough for a substantially larger AWD Countryman.

  • Aussom

    As this discussion thread shows there are a lot of people disappointed about the R60 delay (myself included), yet is understandable given the global financial situation.

    What it means is that those of us who have families with growing children or have a requirement for a larger vehicle or one with 5 doors that clearly want to stay with the MINI brand may not be able to stay with the brand and switch over to a competitor’s vehicle out of necessity. This is the practical reality and dilemma faced by MINI owners and BMW and owners may switch to competitor offerings that tend to their requirements. Have car companies forgotten that the customer is always right?

  • Bernie

    Can they delay it more, like about 5 years. They could straighten the roof, raise the glass, and make the back 2 doors rear hinged. Then it would look like a MINI

  • To whom it may concern:

    My name is Christopher Adam Whisenhunt. I work at Moritz BMW MINI in Arlington, TX 76011. I recently have gone to a LETS MEET MINI training program held here back on November 12th and 13th, 2009. During our discussions Frankie and Greg, my facilitators, briefly talked about upcoming MINI's expected to release by late 2010 or early 2011, hopefully. One of these new breeds, rumored to be called a "countryman" or "Colorado" has grabbed my attention. This new and exciting vehicle drew me in hook, line and sinker! I love the concept of taking the MINI to a "SUV" look, even though it is definitely not an "SUV", but I don't agree with the so-called name being dubbed ("countryman"). Learning about how MINI is marketing toward getting people out on the house and on the road, I believe that this "SUV" should be called the MINI MIGRATE to facilitate that message. To relocate periodically from on region to another, such as the open road, an antique shop in the hills or a mom and pop store on the shore. From New York to San Diego or Fargo to Miami the message conveyed would be clear, LET’S MOTOR!

  • @christopher: thank you for the information. I really enjoy your alternate title, I think Migrate would work great!

    “This is the practical reality and dilemma faced by MINI owners and BMW and owners may switch to competitor offerings that tend to their requirements. Have car companies forgotten that the customer is always right?” THISSSS!!!

  • Well, Migrate, I’m not sure about that.

    How about Ingrate! Just joking, but it may have a certain catchiness. I agree that Countryman is a bit weird, and it brings to mind a gentleman farmer, with his $100k horses, buggy, etc, who lives in a country mansion. If prices start at $29k, they will not be in a good market position I think. They could also probably capture some market with the diesel option.

    I think it may be inconsistent with the Mini concept to bring out a model that has a wheelbase as long as a 2009 Subaru Forester. Of course, the body length is much less.

    Do we have a curb weight on the Countryman yet?

  • Aussom

    Kevin – the point on my last post was that there are people have been holding back to upgrade to the R60 who have capacity or utility issues with the current models yet love the car (myself included). With possible release dates moving further to the right, this means that people have to make the hard decision of holding, selling or trading their current MINI for alternative vehicles. Of course economic downturns don’t make it easy to plan – however the MINI owners that I know are responsible with their planning & finances.

    There are quite a few MINIs for sale due to owners having a growing family or the vehicle not meeting their capacity/utility requirements but want to stay with the brand (as I do). As I understand it goes back to whether BMW/MINI is catering for full customer life-cycle and looking to include this market demographic and cater for the customer’s needs – viz-a-viz – “the customer is always right”.