We can’t say it enough. BMW’s insistence on run-flats on their cars kills the ride. When an M5 rides better than a 6 Series something is wrong. In the Countryman it’s particularly a shame because MINI engineers have clearly done an admirable job in crafting the best riding MINI to date. When we’ve found (key word here is found) glass smooth roads, our sport suspension equipped Countryman exhibits an impressive balance between sport and comfort with minimal body roll yet a comfortable transitions over imperfect roads. But that’s only if you forget about the brittle quality of the ride thanks to the run-flats that wrap our R60’s 18″ wheels.
So why did MINI go with run flats in the first place?
It wasn’t for safety as some might assume. BMW decided long ago to ditch the spare tire to save weight in order to increase efficiency and of course save a little money in the process. At the time of the decision (dating back almost 15 years), the tire manufacturers promised dramatic cost and comfort increases for run flats, bringing them inline with normal tires. Alas that hasn’t happened and auto manufactures that have agreed to use the technology have been battling ride issues ever since.
Which brings us back to our All4 MINI Countryman. This is by far the best MINI to date in terms of soaking up road imperfections. Yet it trails some of the competition in ride comfort thanks solely to its expensive run flat tires. The fix? If you don’t need runflats, we suggest wear them down and contact one of our fine sponsors about getting non-runflats on your MINI. This is especially important for the R56 or R57 as the shorter wheelbase cars benefit even more from a flexible sidewall.
In our mind it’s an option that MINI should offer from the factory. Or in the case of markets outside the US, make runflats an option and offer regular tires for a few hundred less.