World Debut & Analysis: The MINI Countryman (w/Full Gallery)

We weren’t suppose to be reporting on this for another couple of weeks. But due to the leak of three photos yesterday, MINI has decided to go ahead and release the Countryman across the web this morning. However instead of just regurgitating all information that you’ll surely see elsewhere on the web (in the form of copy ad pasted press releases), we wanted to give you our first impressions of the car and some insight into what to expect with its coming release.

One quick note, because of legal issues, MINI will not be able to use the Countryman name in all markets. We’ll have more on that in the coming days.

MINI Countryman

Exterior Design

Exterior design is always subjective. And when you’re dealing with a brand with so much heritage, it can be a herculean task to create a new shape within the context of a new model range. But that’s exactly why the Countryman is so impressive. In this vehicle MINI has both departed and embraced the visual language that they have so carefully crafted over the last 10 years.

The Countryman departs greatly from the R50 and 56 with its entirely new design for the headlights.The new shape accentuates the grille and the height of the front the car in all the right ways. It’s such a considerate design in so many ways because it allows you to notice shapes, angles and design nuances around the front of the car that are quite subtle. So subtle in fact that it’s probably unlikely they’ll all reveal themselves to you in photos. But trust us, they are there.

Around the side MINI has established a new side grille to further show-off this MINI’s new found height.

MINI Countryman

As you walk to the back you start to see the sculpting that has been done to the rear fenders. This is a first for MINI and is meant to speak to the “All4” drive drivetrain that is optional for the car. Also a nice touch is the flare on the lower portion of the doors.

The 18″ wheels on the car (pictured) are standard wheels for the Cooper S with the sport package. While we prefer them without the silver lip, they do work exceptionally well with the white body and black trim. And for those wondering, they are not interchangeable with BMW 5 lug wheels. MINI has created a slightly different fit that will not allow for a swap from an X1 to the Countryman for instance.

17″ wheels will be standard in the US (smaller in some markets) with accessory sizes ranging all the way up to 19″ and potentially beyond.

Around back MINI has finished the Countryman with simplicity in mind. Save for the unfortunately faux rear vents just behind the rear wheels, there’s little ornamentation on the car. Yes that enormous MINI logo acts as the handle for the hatch much like the current BMW Z4 or the VW Golf.

MINI Countryman

Interior Design

Inside there is a blend of R56 interior design with some important deviations. The biggest addition is the new center rail which we’ll be covering in greater detail tomorrow. Elsewhere, MINI has created a refined version of what we know currently and it is certainly not out of the question to expect some of this new direction in the R55/R56/R57 refresh coming shortly.

MINI Countryman

Having sat in a pre-production version of seats, I can personally confirm that the bolstering (both in the bottom seat cushion and seat back) is decidedly superior to the current sport seats in the R56.

Engines

Under this MINI’s hood will be the standard range of engines with their newly revised outputs. The Countryman Cooper S (the “Cooper” in the name probably wasn’t needed) will have an output of 184 hp while the Countryman Cooper will make due with 120 hp. By far the best selling model in the UK and possibly Europe will be the new 2.0L diesel engine lifted from the BMW 1 and 3 Series range. Expect HP ratings around the level of the Cooper S with loads more torque. In fact, we believe MINI will be marketing that model as a Cooper S D. We however do not expect this engine to be available at the launch. Instead, look for the MINI One D and MINI Cooper D engines to make the initial launch.

Perhaps the most exciting models will be from JCW. The current 208 hp JCW powerplant will launch sometime in 2011 with a unique body kit, wheels and interior trim. The JCW version will be a welcomed addition but the proposed rally version of the Countryman has us particularly excited. As we previously reported BMW will be taking this new MINI racing in the form of a WRC entry built by famed motorsports company Prodrive. From that rally car MINI will create a limited edition JCW model meant to push the idea of a sport crossover to the limit. While a tweaked version of BMW’s current 1.6L could do duty under the hood, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a tuned version of the 2.0L diesel show up. Either way we expect a screamer if it comes to fruition.

MINI will carry over both transmission options from the current range.

All4, MINI’s first all-wheel drive system is one of the more advanced of its kind in production. Available only on the Cooper D and the Cooper S models at launch, All4 sends up to 50% of it’s power to the rear wheels. However under extreme conditions All4 can send up to 100% to the rear wheels – highly unusual in a system on a small crossover. The suspension is based on the R56 design with McPherson spring struts, forged track control arms, and multi-arm rear axle. The Countryman also will come with DSC and DTC as either as an option or as a standard feature on the Cooper S and Cooper D with ALL4. Finally ALL equipped Countryman will have an electronic limited-slip function for the front axle differential.

MINI Countryman

Color

There will be some carry-over from the current color range but ultimately the Countryman will deviate more than any other model offered by MINI. With manufacturing taking place by Magna Steyr in Austria the typical concerns of color capacity will not be an issue.

MINI Countryman

Verdict

If you would have asked me two years ago what I thought about the idea of MINI building a crossover, I would have told you it’s bad idea that’s bound to backfire with the coming efficiency regulations and certain changes in consumer’s tastes. Yet here we are two years later looking at an exceptionally designed car that is easily the most exciting thing MINI has done in years. Stretching the MINI brand into this ultra competitive market was clearly a risk. But in our minds they have succeeded on paper at almost every level. Now all that’s left to do is drive it.

Full Gallery

[nggallery id=2]
  • Perfect.

  • Can’t wait to play with the configurator with this one?

  • glangford

    Yea, I’m anxious for messing around with the configurator as well. i genuinely like it. I prefer the rear hatch to the clubman barn doors for sure. I have a R56 and kept my CR-V for hauling when needed. This is large enough for me to ditch the CR-V and R56. Will I? That remains on how this car prices out in the normally aspirated variant

  • GregPo

    Wow! I can’t believe how much I like it. I’ll be interested to see what the dimension specs are. This is an interesting car no matter who makes it but it’s so much the better that it’s a MINI.

  • I am looking forward to seeing the Countryman in person and take it for a spin. Hopefully, there will be an opportunity to do so at a MTTS this year.

    I am particularly impressed by the interior and it seems logical (and has been suggested) that many of the specific dash and door refinements we see here will be carrying over to the rest of the range during the 2011 refresh and beyond.

    It is great that MINI has a plethora of new product in the pipeline that will allow someone like me, with two young children who will eventually outgrow the rear seats in my Clubman, to move up within the brand. Plus, the option of owning a roadster/coupe for when you want to go motoring without the kids.

    Exciting times indeed!

  • My perfect garage may just contain a Countryman and Speedster. That should cover all the bases nicely!

  • jimmy

    I was wishing for the sunroof that is soft like we saw in the early pre-production vehicle , I had one one my late model classic Mini and it was awesome. Count me in a person who will purchase one of these.

  • JonPD

    Typically great review Gabe, great job!

    Front side on I give MINI thumbs up on the design generally. While still not a fan of the dune roof lines my eye has gotten used to it on the Clubman. The shots from the side I am less happy with as the nose looks rather bulky and squared. The flare at the bottom of the side panels smells and feels like it is less MINI than BMW. Finally from the rear generally not bad although once again feels rather unrefined and bulky. I also would have much rather seen handles on the rear than the humongous MINI symbol, in ways it feels genetically linked to the playschool designed center stack of the R56.

    The interior I will give a general thumbs up on, looks like they have done a good job with the layout and I think the rail system is actually quite interesting (though not sure about practicality).

    Still a 4 seater faux offroader has been done to death and not sure if I am seeing anything here that really sets a new standard. However I think that it will end up competing more against the four door, four seat awd cars than it will against most small SUVs. Don’t think the best in market small SUVs are in any danger here.

    Still think this is a loss of MINI heritage and a move into the predictable and boorish from MINI.

  • She’s beautiful! I think I’m going to tear up…

  • I am beginning to feel this is more like a Matrix than a Rav 4… and I do not mind that one bit. The ride height is not like an SUV it is somewhere between a sedan and CUV; like that of a Rolls or the famed 5 GT 🙂

    Looks are deceptive in photos as we all should have learned by now, my only concern is the difference in appearance of the side scuttle in silver (cooper) and black (cooper s)- the black just looks like an after thought IMHO, just a giant slab of plastic that could have been done in faux CF of even a metallic looking black.

    -M

  • Rocketboy_x

    Again, I take back everything bad I said about this before.

    (Although, I will reserve my final judgment until I see it in person)

  • Evan

    Wonderful! I can see how three across in the back would be tight. Also assuming a second armrest for the center rail for the rear seats is possible. I really like the interior too, especially with the beige.

    The taillights are about one size too large and while I like the angled side indicator, all black or all chrome seems too much- should be optional in body color.

    In two years maybe I’ll be able to get a Cooper S with All4 in BRG, white top, and beige leather…. still could use that 5th seat no matter how cramped…

    Can’t wait to drive it!

  • But will there be bonnet stripes? Yes they are called bonnet stripes where I come from.

  • I like the front very much, less happy with the back. The interior looks nice. It is a good effort and should do well. Would I buy, most likely not. Waiting for “DaCoopster” (sorry, my first MINI (03MC) was DaMINI).

  • RJ

    I like the front end / grille design better on the base car vs the Cooper S car. The base grille looks great; the white Cooper S car, with the little inlet incorporated into the big grille, looks like it has a look of shock or awe on its ‘face’.

  • @Gabe… “In this vehicle MINI has both departed and embraced the visual language that they have so carefully crafted over the last 10 years.”

    I have to respectfully disagree. It’s not MINI nor Mini in any shape or form. If anything it’s a brand on it’s own and should have been marketed that way like GM does with GMC. It’sa Cayman (Cayenne + Clubman. If you take away the front facia and logos and put this online nobody would have a clue as to what make it is which can’t be said for the basic MINI.

    Is it nicely designed yes and some of it’s features fix my complaints with the Clubman like the boot design. BUT… IT’S NOT A MINI!

  • Couldn’t agree more, Gabe. Your analysis is spot on. I’ve been excited about this car ever since the Crossover concept, but wasn’t sure what to expect. Looking at the camo car, the shape was a bit suspect, but as optimistic as I was, the end result is even better than I could have imagined. Gert and his team have truly done an amazing job. More than anything I think that they’ve shown a perfect level of restraint, letting the subtle details you’ve pointed out add character to the vehicle without any of the garish overplay so common to this segment. More than anything, I think they’ve created something that’s incontrovertibly MINI.

  • MatthewW

    @RJ, I agree. The grill on the Cooper (I presume) looks far more appealing to my eye than that on the Cooper S. The look is very MINI, in my opinion.

    I suspect that particular detail on the lower portion of the Countryman Cooper S grill is a tip of the hat to the hood scoop on the R53 and R56.

  • bee1000

    One more vote for the 3-bar grille on the dark car over whatever is happening on the front of the white one.

    By the way – is that Sparkling White, or a new bright white (non-metallic?) color?

  • I think that the Cooper exterior is much more attractive than the S. The white interior in that car looks great too!

    Oh, and could someone get that model a newer ipod? That one looks like the 3rd generation circa 2003 (the last one with a remote control port on top)

  • Sideways Eh!

    Wow, I just start to get more and more excited the more I see this thing!!!

    The interior gives a really big insight to what the next phase of the hatch has in store…the way the interior lighting reflects off of the door lining sold me right there! That is SOOOOOOO COOOOOOOL!!!

    BUT…

    PRODRIVE!!! I WANNA SEE THE PRODRIVE MINI!!!!!!!!

  • Marshmallow Pony

    I’m with Jalopnik on this one – a further “bastardization” of the brand.

    http://jalopnik.com/5452760/mini-countryman-first-four+door-further-bastardizes-brand

  • Real world, acid-test question: Can you get a golf bag in the back? Sideways?

  • lavardera

    Yup – the bumper scoop on the S appears to be the gesture corresponding to the hood scoop on the other mini S models. Nobody mentioned the relation between the rear lower valance and the same on the Clubman – same split dual exhaust. The relationship to the Cooper version seems to have been handled well, appropriate amount of muscular gestures on the S where the Cooper is more trim. No doubt the rear brake vents will be the R56 hood scoop for insider critics here.

    All in all I like the more vertical stance of the front end which continues the trend of the R56 away from the R50 (R53 being more of an anomoly caused by squeezing the supercharger in there.) The vertical front grill is an important characteristic of the original mini that was lost in the new generation and I like that its coming back.

  • I like it and seriously wish this car would be available when I’m ready to turn my present R56 in.

  • @NathanielSalzman.. ” I think they’ve created something that’s incontrovertibly MINI.” What part of this thing is “incontrovertibly MINI.”? The logo? Come one man it’s a nondescript pile of metal, could be any make. I value your opinion and Gabe’s but my eye’s don’t see MINI anywhere on this thing.

  • Elevatorview

    It looks very nice inside and out except for the giant gap in the wheel wells.

  • The Countryman has turned out to be very interesting indeed! Does anyone know what the dimensions are like in relation to the Clubman? Also, is a MINI Family portrait out yet?

  • alpinamike

    The grill on the chrome version with three slates retains the cooper look, the S with the black grill looks good, but I really like the cooper grill three slat.

    The center rails appear as a design MINI will carry on through all 4 wheel drive MINI’s as a utility function. Lights on the inside look good and can show BMW influence on interior ambient lighting. Very visual. I would like to think maybe this could be at MTTS ’10 as mentioned above. Would we be better at a track or off road challenge?

    MINI if you read has this has the MINI been on the BMW’s PDS off road track, or is the Beachcomber more applied for that? As clearance is not so high

  • alpinamike

    Sorry typo:

    MINI if you read has this MINI been on the BMW’s PDS off road track, or is the Beachcomber more applied for that? As clearance is not so high

  • robble

    Pretty darn nice.

    I like the cooper grill much more than the S grill.

    Bucket back seats. Neat idea, I guess there won’t be any question of how many can sit back there. Will the back seats recline?? I think that would be brilliant. Great for passengers wanting to snooze It looks like there could be room enough to do it.

    Is that dashboard what we are going to see on the r56 come the refresh?

  • Hoover

    I just happened to be looking at the pics of the speedo when I heard the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme on the TV. Disney will be pleased with the design of speedo and center vent area. Oh, and just to chime in, I really prefer the exterior styling on the Cooper version. I like this. I don’t love it. I don’t have to have it, especially since it will probably be priced too high above its competitors…and I think that will be its biggest problem.

  • I think the best of part this article is that: a) You did not copy/paste pre-written Press Releases and gave a real-world impression from your own experiences… and b) two days from now we’ll see exactly how much other auto-sites just steal content from MF and call it their own.

    Although I’ll never own one, I look forward to riding in one of these some day. [ss]

  • mellowmcs

    I’m 85-90% sold on the body and interior. However, I would love to know if the 2.0L diesel engine will be available in the US. We just bought a 335d and love the mpg/handling/power/mpg 🙂

    I would want something countryman size with mpg in the low to mid 30’s and the zipp of my cooper s (60 in the low to mid 7 range).

    Bring the diesel over MINI! If not I’ll be going with the VW Golf 4dr diesel and sacrifice power/handling for more MPG.

  • Spokane MINI

    Yesterday’s picture was real after all !! I think that the darker color, white roof and the simplicity of the Cooper, shows off the good design and proportions of the vehicle much better than the white Cooper S. I like it. It looks like a MINI, it’s practical, I’ll bet it is fun to drive, and best of all, those of us who have to park our MINI’s much of the time in deep snow, can continue to drive a MINI all winter long! It would be nice to have a picture of one parked next to an R56 to get some idea of the size of this thing. Put a strong diesel engine in it, and we will have 3 MINI’s instead of 2.

  • …well done Gabe.

  • goat

    Good initial design review Gabe. My design impressions, since we are all chiming in here in the comments…

    The best bits: • The pronounced contouring on the leading edge of the hood / grill is great to see and is reminiscent of the bull-nosed R53 — no more overly “inflated” look! 🙂

    • Now that we have some higher-res photos, can see that the centre stack greatly improved in appearance after all. (The “mickey mouse” trace of centre vents and speedo are rather unfortunate but will be less so if MINI offers a dark black trim option for the bezels.)

    • The rail is a great idea and executed well… a truly modular interior can result and one of the first things I would do is add a second centre armrest to the rear position to emphasize the separate buckets seats even further. If the rail works well in “hands-on” reviews, expect other manufacturers to introduce similar designs.

    Design-wise, it’s not all “out of the park”, of course…

    • the car visually demands 19″ or even 20″ wheels, though lowering it 1-2″ should make the 18″ wheels shown look larger and will help the stance of the car overall. I don’t think 17″ wheels will ever look right on this car, especially the “flange” design, in white no less, shown on the pictured Cooper.

    • the giant rear emblem, whether it doubles as a hatch release or not, looks gimmicky surrounded by so much blank tailgate sheetmetal… the text in the MINI logo limits its scalability (generally only all-geometric logos can be scaled up and down, such as the Mercedes star, VW, etc.) so I would rather the designers didn’t go that route here.

    • the lower inlet on the S model looks contrived and overly ‘truck like’… the Cooper has a far more cohesive and sporting front clip with the horizontal grill emphasizing width, which helps the stance immensely.

    • the S model exhaust tips are too small in diameter for the scale of the rear. That should be an easy fix via aftermarket or JCW, however.

    But overall, for “stock” and for a crossover vehicle, I think MINI designers have done a very good job! The hard-core driving enthusiasts can look forward to the JCW version and also seeing what Prodrive does to this car for rally competition!

  • that.guy

    Hopefully the JCW version will get a different roof sans “rails”. (Maybe even in aluminum to bring weightand CG down.) Because that roofline is just not working. At all.

  • Chilly

    Another thumbs-up for the grill on the Cooper version (assuming the 3 chrome bar is the base?). These little design differences make an amazing difference, I really don’t like the front-end of the S version.

  • rhawth99

    It’s not bad but nothing in the design really says MINI to me – you could just as easily replaced the MINI wings with a Honda H. Given that BMW seems to forget to do real world testing in cold climates, I can just imagine the freeze up issues with the giant rear emblem.

    I too immediately thought of Mickey Mouse when I first saw the central NAV/speedo flanked by the air outlets. Ironic considering all of the flak about the R56 center stack design. 🙂

  • MINIme

    OK,now the $.02 from the SUV guy…

    I like the overall exterior image. I would go with (gasp) 16″ wheels and put some all-terrain tires on this vehicle with taller sidewalls. I like the large MINI logo that doubles as a hatch latch. The side vents are way cool.

    Moving to the interior, I am less than impressed. While the seats do look way more supportive and sporty, I still stick to my guns on a rear bench seat. The rail system is a novelty that will prove to be all style and no substance and a terrible trade-off in lieu of 5th passenger capability. I did like the photo of the light-colored leather seats. The whole interior seems rather cramped considering the size increase of the vehicle.

    I can see myself purchasing one of these in “S” trim with ALL4 if, and only if, the rail system can be removed without completely screwing up the interior and the 2 rear seats can be replaced with an aftermarket bench.

    The 2.0 diesel is the best engine option for a vehicle like this.

    It looks better than I expected. I would still prefer the Beachcomber.

  • Pingback: The R60 | dbmini.us()

  • SMH

    Crap, now I have to sell the 2010 Clubman S. At first I thought the buckets in back would be an issue (German Shepherd) but the photo’s show a lot of room which is almost flat with the seats folded down. Live in South Carolina but I still want 4 wheel drive due to heavy rain and the additional height is nice. Love the light colored leather seats. Like a lot of people have said I would really like a diesel especually the 2.0 liter from BMW Europe. Had an X5 and 2 X3’s and this will be my next BMW SUV.

  • I have to echo everyone elses sentiment. The 2.0L diesel could be a serious game changer for this MINI. I was shocked when VW didn’t offer the Tiguan in the US with the diesel engine as they do elsewhere in the world.

  • DavidB

    I think I’d probably trade my 2010 JCW for one of these (in white).. It’s different and refreshing. Yes it is a MINI, not a Mini – that’s brand development!

  • JohnPC

    I’m pleasantly surprised again. Not as pleasant as with the R56, but more surprised, for sure (if you get my drift).

    I don’t know if the speedo/vent configuration looks as much like a mouse as it looks like a lamb.

    I’m not usually one for the look of those über-European low-slung autobahn-monster SUVs like RUF Cayennes or crazy-modified X5s, but this seems halfway there already. I can’t wait to see the JCW versions.

  • Pingback: MINI reveals the Countryman crossover - Nathaniel Salzman()

  • giulius

    one comment on the back: the new lights have lost the vertically slanted shape typical of the R53/56 and are now simply curved rectangles. Ditto for the hatch, that comes down to the bumper with 90 degrees vertical lines instead of the older slight V shape. This results in full loss of the “bulldog” stance from behind, which is in MHO the biggest miss of this design.

  • robble

    can’t wait for early next year when this thing shows up in the US!

  • Seth L

    Pricing is going to kneecap this thing. I really like it, but I’m guessing 40K optioned?

  • Mighty Mowse

    Not for me but not too bad. I wonder if that interior reflects the 2011 refresh.

    BTW, unless your from England, stop saying “spot on”. It’s so lame.

  • JonPD

    LOL Jalopnik nailed the last line and picture

    “In the meantime, enjoy this image of the Mini Countryman achieving its goal of killing off Mini purists with its multi-door mind ray.”

    Rather funny to see MINI copying Lifan 320, albeit a tad better looking and not as likely to fall apart.

  • Lakemoor Joe

    I think the Countryman looks good overall, though I’d have preferred to see the doors configured like the Clubman, only with the rear-hinged side access doors on BOTH sides and with retractable frame-less glass in all four side doors, and no B-pillar.

    From what I can see from the one overhead shot of the car with the doors open, it looks like BMW has ditched the frame-less door glass altogether, and added the awkward window frames like virtually every other car on the road. The combination of slender upright doors with framed glass looks like it would make ingress / egress of the Countryman more difficult than the usual MINI door.

    I’ll have to drive one to be sure, but based on the photos, I’m leaning on replacing my Clubman with a Ford Flex instead of the Crossman. Also, I’ll bet that Ford has found a way to open and close the windows and sunroofs reliably on their cars, and without their cars being hobbled with the unending nuisance of iDrive.

  • @DUDE!

    What part of this thing is “incontrovertibly MINI.”? The logo? Come one man it’s a nondescript pile of metal, could be any make. I value your opinion and Gabe’s but my eye’s don’t see MINI anywhere on this thing.

    Could be any make? Oh come on. You obviously don’t like it, RB, but the design heritage is pretty unmistakable. If anything, it’s the full evolution of the design language started in the R56. Granted, there are several design details that I don’t like about the R56 precisely because I feel like they’re almost caricatures of Frank Stephenson’s R50 design. But in my opinion this car is a very thoughtful step beyond what MINI started there — and for the better. I’m really glad to hear that many of the Countryman’s interior details will trickle back down to the hatches, convertibles, and the Clubman as I think they’re badly needed. But to imply that it doesn’t even look like a MINI is pretty ridiculous. I keep doing double-takes at the photos. At first glance, the vast majority of people aren’t even going to register that it’s a different car, let alone a 4-door MINI.

    Now all of that said, I respect that you’re not a fan. Feel free to hate the thing. But to say that the logo is the only thing that looks like a MINI is something I’ll definitely have to disagree with you about. But then again, that wouldn’t be our first difference of opinion now would it? 😉

  • MatthewW

    The rear bucket seating objections are eliminated by reading the BMW Countryman PR (https://www.press.bmwgroup.com/pressclub/p/pcgl/pressDetail.html?outputChannelId=6&id=T0077053EN&left_menu_item=node__5528), where it’s stated clearly that a bench seat will be a no-cost option, and a popular one I predict.

  • Hoover

    @MatthewW: Not in the U.S.

  • Hoover

    Look at the picture of the two people sitting in the rear. Would you really want to subject a third passenger to that remaining space?

  • Ron Myers: My perfect garage may just contain a Countryman and Speedster. That should cover all the bases nicely!

    I agree, Ron!! I am excited to picture both of these vehicles in my life! I am very impressed with the design of the Countryman! I, too, was skeptical when MINI said they were making a larger cross-over vehicle – but I am glad with how it turned out!

    Two things I am not a fan of:

    1. I think it’s a bad idea to name it a differently in a market because of legal issues. MINI should decide on one name for the global market.
    One quick note, because of legal issues, MINI will not be able to use the Countryman name in all markets. We’ll have more on that in the coming days.
    1. The center rail! Sliding cupholders and storage areas blah blah blah. From what I hear from customers in the MINI showroom I work at, an additional 5th seat would be the dealbreaker for most customers interested in this car. For myself in a few years when I am ready to start a family, I would appreciate the 5th seat WAY MORE than a sliding cupholder system. Also, I am not a fan of bringing this to the R55/R56/R57 refresh. I like the flexibility that the rear seats give because they are not separated by something. I think this center rail is a cool “design” idea and with all they are talking about it in the past few years it seems like it’s definitely coming to fruition but I wish they would hear me when I say a 5th seat would be a wiser choice!
  • spot on ! Congratz with the birth of a new MINI !

  • What a beautiful creature evolved from those grotesque early concept drawings!

    Congratulations to all at MINI, and, especially, the design team!

  • Franz

    I like the overall design WAY MORE than I thought I would, but I am disappointed in the lack of boot space. It appears to be the same dimensions as the clubman. At this point the VW Golf has more boot space. I do like the 4 door layout, but hate the big gaps in the wheel wells and have absolutely no use for AWD. Do you know if the rear seats can slide forward? Is there a front wheel drive version still coming and when? I would surely put some larger wheels on it. Any MPG numbers yet?

  • bee1000

    There is a regulation of some sort that prevents Mini from offering a bench seat in the US. I just read it yesterday, but I don’t remember what it was.

  • Dan

    Both this and the X1 (same platform) share the seemingly large wheel-well gaps. It’s almost as if they decided late in the process they wanted more ground clearance and just lifted the whole thing to make it happen. At least here on the countryman the gap is consistent all the way around. The X1 has a larger gap at the top than on the sides even after the top of the wheel-well was squared off.

  • There is a regulation of some sort that prevents Mini from offering a bench seat in the US. I just read it yesterday, but I don’t remember what it was.

    You read that here. We broke the news last week.

  • tom petro

    Hey pretty nice…. gotta say it looks pretty good. One thing though, I’m afraid to ask the price…More than a clubbie?? JCW = $37000???????

  • rb

    I am liking this “a lot” more than i thought I would. I was assuming it would have to grow on me, but this looks good at first glance.

    I’m not sure i’d give up my cooper s for this, though. And, its a little too small for a family hauler. I can’t have three cars . . . can I?

  • KPH

    This early exposure may be a bit of serendipity what with the shocking amount of European/UK snow this year. MINI Marketing should have video of this thing running all over Snowville thus planting the seeds of a future AWD purchase amongst the fed up with 2wd.

  • Home run.

  • poerboy

    I’ve missed the leak and have been completely geeking out for the past half hour or so. I agree with Frederic- he metamorphosis from concept to what we see here is elegant and awe-inspiring. I am so excited by what I see here and as other have mentioned, I CAN’T wait to take one for a spin within a year or so. Unfortunately, given my income, I’ll probably have t wait 5 or 6 years to be able to afford a used Countryman….

  • I love the front end of the S model. I hope they carry over this new design language into the S hatch to replace the front scoop. If they do, perhaps that will be the big exterior difference in the R56 S refresh that has been talked about…

    Very aggressive. Very cool.

  • I totally agree with RJ when he said:

    I like the front end / grille design better on the base car vs the Cooper S car. The base grille looks great; the white Cooper S car, with the little inlet incorporated into the big grille, looks like it has a look of shock or awe on its ‘face’.

    The “Just-a” Cooper version is much better! The S version appears to be in pain, or horrified that the BMW overlords built a MINI SUV!

    I still Dislike the Stetson Hat look on the Countryman and the Clubman. And the dip in the back looks hideous with a white roof!

    My Girlfriend likes the idea of All4.

    Can’t wait to see the ProDrive WRC R60!

    But alas not for me. No space for 5 due to the Safety-Nazis in Washington DC! 🙁

    Say doesn’t Subaru offer a WRX Imprezza Waggon? HMM… Turbo… All Wheel Drive…

  • Aaron

    It is real!!! For the most part, I love the design and will add one more vote for the cooper grill over the S grill. I wish MINI would let people who want S power but a base front end have it. That’s why I have a chrome grill on my R53. The back end is still PT cruiser-ish to me but I think that in person it will look a lot better to me.

    I’ve been following this car’s development since it was first announced and was ever hopeful that a diesel version would be my next car purchase. Unfortunately, the 4-seat configuration is a deal killer for me. I’m pretty angry about this. Does nobody on the design team have children? Don’t they know that the safest position for a car seat is in the center of the rear bench? Did they think about kids in the back having to climb over the silly rail to get out the door on the other side of the car when you’ve parked in traffic? Did they think about parents leaning over to buckle the kid into their car seat on the other side without having to walk around the car or kneel awkwardly across the rail? Argh! Why could they not figure out what the US regulations were before they designed this? What are the specifics of these regulations? Why is it fine for the R50/R53/R56 to have a bench across the back in the US but not ok for the R60?

    I’m very disgruntled about this oversight in the design for the US market. I think that will turn out to be a huge disaster for this car in the US market. Huge.

  • This WILL be my next MINI daily driver… when the BlimeyCabrio is retired to a weekend and sunny day driver…. I’ll stand in line and pay the coin for the JCW Rally edition if possible… or get a JCW and put it on airbags… needs to be lowered on the street, but high for those times when ground clearance is a good thing…

    Really excited.

  • Pingback: Anonymous()

  • hardingsan
    What are the specifics of these regulations? Why is it fine for the R50/R53/R56 to have a bench across the back in the US but not ok for the R60?

    the previous models had bench seats, but still only sat 2 across in the U.S. There is a width requirement that keeps them from offering 3 across the back in the U.S.

  • C4

    Honestly… I do not care for it. This is not a MINI, but just about any other crossover that happens to bear MINI logos front and back. 4 seat capacity makes it a very stupid move in my book.

    MINI of 2010 has killed whatever little spirit of the original the brand had left in its DNA. Now it is nothing but a money making machine that wants to be all things for everyone. Good luck with that MINI. See how many $40K R60s are you going to be selling before special discounts and financing/lease deals start to roll in.

    I refuse to drink from the corporate “kool-aid” glass.

    Bottom line: You have lost an 8+ years loyal customer. MINI, you will not be getting a cent of my hard earned money for any of these new contrived behemoths.

  • Harold Dill

    In a word — PECULIAR! If the writer had preceded “design nuances” with peculiar, I’d have no reason to pity the Countryman, moreover how about renaming it the “Spaceman!” It does have a rather well-conceived interior design and the exterior certainly looks extra-terrestrial enough!

  • Harold Dill

    A Toyota FJ Cruiser washed in scalding hot water and dried on heavy cycle for far too long …

  • “the previous models had bench seats, but still only sat 2 across in the U.S. There is a width requirement that keeps them from offering 3 across the back in the U.S.”

    This further begs the question of why they don’t include a bench option for the U.S. Even if it only seats 2 people, it would be a LOT more convenient for families with children rather than a rail that will be both a barrier between the seats and a difficult-to-keep-clean receptacle for everything the kids drop, spit up, drool, smear…

  • Melis

    From the front the Countryman Cooper S in white looks like the helmet of a Star Wars Imperial Stormtrooper, which is kinda cool in my book.

  • Jim W.

    I like it- not EVERYTHING about it, but after reading all the posts its clear that you can’t please everyone!

    Can’t wait til I can test drive….

  • TAZ

    And here I was, all set to hate the MINI crossover based on earlier concept renderings.

    Now, the real Countryman stands up and…

    Someone spank me please, I must be in heaven!!!

    …”All4″ even…

  • Turcicus

    I’m disturbed by the fact that there are no pictures of the space in the boot with the rear seats in the upright position. Makes me think there isn’t much at all.

  • Peter

    Exterior, good – interior – what’s with the Mickey Mouse dash.

    I hope this doesn’t cross over to the new hatch, I’m on my 4th Mini now but fear this will be my last if it does. I simply couldn’t live with that central speedo flanked by the ears. Please please don’t do it…

  • C4

    The “committee” design approach used by MINI these days is quite disturbing…

  • Pingback: Official pictures of the new MINI Countryman | BlogHalt.com (Pre-Launch)()

  • The mini countryman is a 2011 model SO what the REAL date we will see one on the showroom floor ??? My wife is on me for answer..