Jan 20th, 2013
MINI and Stéphane Peterhansel have done it once again. The MINI ALL4 Racing team has won Dakar for the 2nd time in as many years and done so in dominant fashion. Perhaps the most treacherous race in the world, Dakar is 5,300 miles of pretty much everything you can imagine. And the MINI Countryman (powered by a BMW Motorsport diesel and designed by the MINI Design Team) has once again beaten teams from all over the world driving all sorts of vehicles.
Official Release: It seems nothing can stand in their way. The French duo of Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret have won the Dakar Rally 2013 in a MINI ALL4 Racing in a repeat of last year’s success. With their overall time of 38:32.39, the lead pairing of the privately-entered Monster Energy X-raid Team from Trebur, Germany crossed the finish line in Santiago de Chile 42:22 minutes ahead of their nearest pursuers in the overall classification. For Peterhansel, his second victory in the MINI ALL4 Racing was also the 11th of his career in the Dakar. continued →
Dec 24th, 2012
2012 was a busy year for MINI and MotoringFile. The Coupe and Roadster were brought to market, the GP and Paceman made their debuts, and the Countryman continued to sell well. So in an effort to recap some of our favorite moments of the year, we’re bringing you our favorite reviews of the year. The JCW Coupe vs the Abarth, the Roadster, our long-term Countryman and even the GP at the track, we’ve got it all after the break. continued →
Dec 19th, 2012
[UPDATE] We’ve reached out to our sources at MINI and received clarification on BMW’s announcement last week concerning what appeared to be an update to the ALL4 system. We reported on BMW’s description of the system sending 100% of the power to the rear wheels. However, we also expressed skepticism that perhaps this was an example of MINI and BMW having trouble consistently communicating the details of this system. Our sources are telling us that in actual fact, it’s a little of both.
So let’s clear this up. The ALL4 system can split power 50/50 between the front and rear wheels. It can also put 100% of power to the front wheels. In the case of no traction to the front wheels, it can send all of its available power to the rear wheels, but MINI is saying explicitly that this is still only 50% of the car’s total power. So what BMW described is, in a sense, correct (in that the car will be RWD for that instant); but the chosen language did not account for this nuance.
Descriptions notwithstanding, MINI has also confirmed explicitly that the ALL4 system has not changed for 2013. It’s the same system the Countryman shipped with in 2010. I repeat, it has not been updated. This post, on the other hand, now has.
Original story after the jump. continued →
Nov 24th, 2012
MINIUSA.com has flipped the switch on the 2013 configurator for the MINI Countryman. New for 2013 are two new colors (Blazing Red being the standout) and an updated interior design with window switches on the doors, improved door insert design and an additional, small center cubby. Having experienced it all first-hand, we can vouch for these updates as being subtle but welcome.
Nov 7th, 2012
In 12 months time we had little complaints about our long-term Countryman. Save for the short range and rigid ride (thanks to the run flats), living with the R60 was painless. Except for one major design flaw of course; the clutch. In our experience, all the auxiliary components in the driveline combined with the standard MINI clutch, created a tangible lack of feel at the point of clutch engagement. In English; you would stall the thing early and often. It didn’t matter how experienced one was at rowing the gears, nothing would prepare you for how terribly the clutch engaged. And from 2012 November production onward, MINI has updated the clutch and the issue is no longer. But what about current owners with the issue? And is the Paceman affected? Read on.
Oct 31st, 2012
It’s common practice for BMW and MINI to update each of those models with what they call an LCI or Life-Cycle Impulse (very German isn’t it?) But with this update MINI has taken a successful model with the Countryman and refreshed it only two years into its life-cycle. What’s the hurry? In a word the Paceman. Instead of bring the Paceman to market only to be updated a year later, MINI has decided to pull ahead the update to coincide with the launch of the car. This also gives us a mildly updated Countryman as a happy consequence.
So what’s changed? As we mentioned this is a mild refresh with no drivetrain changes and no real styling alterations.
- New exterior colors (Brilliant Copper metallic and Blazing Red metallic)
- New interior controls for the windows and mirrors located on the driver’s door
- Updated interior materials, trim options, colors and color line packages
- Redesigned interior door inserts and arm rests
- Rear bench seat now standard (buckets a no-cost option)
- A reconfiguring of the option packages
Engine and transmission configurations remain the same, but now include the JCW Countryman which as we know, comes with the All4 system as standard. Full release and detail photos after the jump.
Oct 9th, 2012
(Updated – MINI USA isn’t entirely killing the buckets but is making them an option rather than standard).
If there was one universal complaint on the Countryman when it first hit US dealers it had to be the inability to order a rear bench seat. The reason for the delay was due to a NHTSA having a minimum width requirement for an automaker to offer three seats across. Thankfully for MINI that minimum was changed and the five-seat Countryman (in the US) was born. And as expected it went on to be so successful that rear buckets all but disappear from dealer lots. And starting with 2013 production, they will officially disappear as the standard configuration.