There is something elementally fun about mud. Rally drives and off-roaders have known about it for years. But few of us have ever had a chance to some go all out down muddy trails. Recently I had an opportunity to take the MF Countryman long-term tester out to the muddy trails and dirt roads of rural Indiana. The goal was to test the All4 system. But somehow I ended up with me, an hour later, drifting around muddy corners steering the R60 with the throttle.
We’ve told you about the control the All4 system gives the Countryman. However in the dirt and mud, control leads to a car that feels surprisingly neutral and balanced. The reason starts with All4 itself. The system control unit is fully integrated into the DSC unit and thus transfers data much faster than a typical system. In the real world (in the mud and snow) this allows the system to react to changing traction much faster. This is what gives it the seamless, balanced feel. It’s also what allowed me to concentrate on the car control rather than worrying about putting the power down.
All4 engages a small clutch in the front detecting wheel slip when engaging the rear driveshaft. Unlike BMW’s xDrive, it’s a simple (but very effective) system that doesn’t use complex electronics. It’s not quite the center differential locking system in a car like the WRX STI, but it is a simple, lightweight system that works quickly and effectively in sending up to 50% of the available power to the rear wheels.
Whether it’s mud or snow, the Countryman All4 does away with MINI’s typical understeering characteristics and gives the driver the ability to steer with the wheel and the throttle. The results are pure joy.