Countryman Rear Bench for 2012

We’re getting more and more reports from various sources that the rear bench seat option for the R60 is go for the 2012 model year here in the US of A. We’ve also heard that the bench could be available as soon as July of this year from the factory and, we’re guessing, for retrofit purchase if there are units available. While the rear buckets will likely remain the standard, those looking to seat that fifth passenger will soon be able to do so from the factory. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.

  • MM

    Too late for me! I would have bought an S but because Mini didn’t get their act together I bought something else. I need to be able to seat 5! I’ll bet Mini missed out on plenty of business in the spring car buyers market by dropping the ball here. I think somebody somewhere needs to be fired.

  • Rimtnbiker

    When typically does Mini begin taking orders for the next model year? July/August or not until September?

  • glangford

    Even without needing to seat 5, the rear bench is the way to go. Much more cargo friendly I suspect than two bucket seats.

  • Larry Taylor

    Not MINI’s fault….it actually had to do with crash safety laws here. They just revised the laws, and the Countryman measured in within less than a 1/2 inch to get the bench seat.

    So now we will get it….Im hearing a Sept. build this year for 2012 models. Should be Sept. or Dec. production when we get it.

    I have not heard a lot of negative feedback, just the folks that have 3 little kiddos to put in the back. Be patient, and it will come!

  • JonPD

    Actually still kinda MINIs fault Larry as rules change at a snails pace and I am sure the BMW/MINI group keep a very active eye on every market they participate in in order to know generally were everything is headed. What should be interesting is to see how much the rear bench will cost to retrofit (likely north of 1-1.5k), assuming if its installed in the factory it will still cost 500-700.

  • JB

    I think the 4 bucket seats really gives the CM a sporty looking interior but I can see the bench being better for others, good to have choices. As with any subcompact car, actually fitting 5 people in it is another story.

  • Les

    Getting 3 people in the rear of a MINI Countryman would be big challenge. Everyone who is waiting for a rear bench need only go to a MINI dealership and sit in the back with another person. Then imagine another person, even the smallest child, crammed between you and you’ll realize that the rear is simple not made to fit 3 people. Not US size people. Lets not forget that a MINI Cooper is small, and the Countryman is one size bigger, but still small.

  • alpinamike

    **I heard this last week also, looks like 2012 or sooner, maybe end of this month we will hear more. Because of demand for extra room and the ability to load in more people, some people just don’t like the 2 + 2 config.

    I find the suppliers pushing for half bench half buckets. It give more configuring and thus more selection.

    The center of the bench gives room for a little more stuff not really a full size adult, but i have seen smaller in a larger car and suv.

  • robble

    MINI is missing the boat. They should have made it available immediately after it was approved.

    Or at the very minimum come out with a statement saying it’ll be retrofitable.

  • MINIme

    Huuuuuge blunder to not offer the bench out of the gate! Lost revenue…

  • rkw
    What should be interesting is to see how much the rear bench will cost to retrofit (likely north of 1-1.5k), assuming if its installed in the factory it will still cost 500-700

    The choice of factory bench vs bucket rear seats is a no cost option in Europe, and MotoringFile has reported that it will be the same case here in the US. However, I fully expect that the bench retrofit will be quite expensive.

  • Evan

    I heard end of June ordering, which probably means August build and September arrival, based on a 6wk time turnover. This is really great news!

    While I ceed that the back would be tight for 3 across on a routine basis, so is my E90 and that is only up 3in on shoulder room with similar leg and head room compared to the R60. It’s the option of having that extra person when needed that really matters. Plus, with the bench upright, there’s no gap to the interior as with the buckets and the load floor can be removed leaving the well and a good size cargo compartment.

    This also makes me wonder when the JCW engine upgrade will become available… I might have to save up for that extra get up and go. A manual Countryman S All4 witht the bench will be on order as soon as allowed!

  • GregW

    Most markets took bench seat as standard or option. THe problen is with retrofit is the centre seat belt is in the roof like Clubman.

  • PeterA

    I wrote to MINI’s public relations contact inquiring about the bench seat earlier this week. According to Nathalie Bauters with MINI Communications, “we were initially not able to offer the rear bench seat in the US due to homologation issues related to the seatbelts. Meanwhile, we have been able to resolve the issue and will be able to offer the rear bench starting with our 2012MY. This means that you should be able to order this late summer/early fall.”

  • Rixter

    Lets hope the rear bench seats fold down flat. Right now the 5-7 degree angle of the rear seats folded down is dumb. In this day an age of stow-n-go seats and all sorts of configurations (particularly for minivans) having rear seats that fold flat to allow for more cargo and even for transporting pets, is a must. IMHO

  • Rixter

    Does anybody have a link to a photo of a rearbench from a European Countryman?

  • David Ling
  • Larry Taylor

    Im thinking there wont be a retrofit for the Bench Seat. How are they going to add a third seat belt….out of the roof….think about that. Seatbelt assembly, new headliner!, bench seat, labor…….I dont see this happening.

  • Rixter

    Very nice David! 3rd headrest is a nice touch. Difficult to tell from the photo, but it looks like the seats fold down flatter than the bucket seats. Is that true?

  • David Ling

    Dunno, Rixter, I’ve never seen the bucket seats folded.

    Putting a straight-edge over the full length shows a gap of about 1 inch to the surface of the flat load floor and 2 to the bottom of the folded seat.

    BTW, it’s not obvious from my pic but the rear seat backs are adjustable to give greater room in the load space at the expense of seat comfort, as well as splitting 40/20/40.

    (I didn’t even give serious consideration to the 4-seat option and have no regrets!)

  • b-

    @David Ling,

    Can you take a few pics of the seat belt anchor points and the headliner? Thanks.

  • David Ling

    Sure, but it’s too late tonight and the weather forecast isn’t good for tomorrow. I’ll do my best ASAP though.

  • David Ling

    I’ve added several more shots to my Flickr set at http://www.flickr.com/photos/18843279@N03/sets/72157626019236648/detail/ with some brief descriptions where I thought they’d help.

    Hope they are useful!

  • b-

    @ David Ling,

    Thanks for the pictures. Looks like an absolute tangle of seat belts if you are going to transport 3 in the back. Also, what keeps the shoulder belt in the middle seat from moving about? It looks like it is just behind the headrest.

  • David Ling

    I don’t think the belts would move much if they were around passengers but, yes, I just tried to show what went where!

    • MelSD

      @David Ling   Great photos of bench back seat!  Thanks.  Question:  Are there rear cupholders — my American children want to make sure their precious water cups have a home.  Thanks, Mel

  • Hoover

    @David Ling: Thanks for posting! Initially, I didn’t think I would care if the bench came to the US, but after hauling around 5 people in our CR-V this past weekend, I would definitely opt for the bench.

  • litespeeder

    The real benefit of the bench is not five person seating but being able to put a child seat in the middle – much safer. And getting rid of the center rail would not be bad thing either.