The not-so-mini MINI Countryman is the first 5-door model from the company under BMW ownership and also the only model which isn’t manufactured in the UK. Positioned as a crossover SUV, the niche vehicle has garnered a cult following in India as well due to its premium looks and supreme driving dynamics. Thus MotorBeam.com decided to test the latest edition of the car and give their opinion about the British offering.
The MINI brand in a country like India should theoretically be an unknown entity as the common folk here never got to be familiar with the charms of the small and zippy original MINI hatchback and the cultural revolution that followed.
Instead the car company has its own cult following in the country largely due to the great driving dynamics and beautiful and premium build of the vehicle, which allow the BMW owned brand to sell a car smaller than the Ford EcoSport at a price which is more than triple.
On the outside, the British brute got recently facelifted and the 2015 version gets a revised front fascia featuring a contoured bonnet, redesigned hexagonal grille and larger xenon headlights with LED fog lights.
The 2015 update also gets increased ground clearance; rear gets vertical LED tail lights, a muscular tailgate adding width to the design and twin exhausts boasting a sporty touch.
The sides of the car are clad in black plastics as BMW likes to call the car an SUV but at the same time, low profile tyres negate that effect completely. A MINI will get you stares that cars twice as much won’t.
Inside, the MINI Countryman follows the retro theme albeit with modern touches. The fit and finish of switchgear is at BMW levels and are a joy to use.
The car has a rounded aircraft-inspired theme going on with round AC, aircraft themed switchgear and a large speedometer in the centre which has a 6.5-inch screen inside it loaded with a BMW iDrive like infotainment system.
The seats of the MINI Countryman offer good back support and headroom inside the cabin is in plenty. But the inherent size of the vehicle results in limited under-thigh support and legroom.
On the business end of things, the diesel avatar of the MINI Countryman gets a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine that produces a mere 112 HP of power but a healthy 270 Nm of torque between just 1750-2250 RPM, paired to a 6-speed automatic Steptronic transmission.
This setup translates to a wave of torque which comes in so strong that the vehicle responds with a jerk when you floor the pedal. Mid range performance from the MINI Countryman is strong and the diesel powerplant pulls effortlessly till around 3500 RPM, post which it starts to lose steam and redlines at around 4500 RPM.
MINI cars traditionally have superb driving dynamics and the Countryman is no different. The way this vehicle handles is truly outstanding; it simply jinks into corners with precision and maintains its line as if it’s riding on rails.
Despite the size, the Countryman doesn’t have any body roll whatsoever and offers extremely fun to drive dynamics. The steering provides immense amounts of feedback, but is a tad bit on the heavier side while pottering around town.
The ride quality on the other hand is truly disappointing, with the stiff suspension setup and extremely low profile tyres making for a harsh ride over our bumpy monsoon roads. But at the same time the high speed stability is good though as the Countryman stays firmly glued to the road.
BMW is offering the MINI Countryman in two non-metallic colours and nine metallic colours and will be retailing the vehicle through its four exclusive dealerships, namely Bird Automotive (Delhi), Infinity Cars (Mumbai), Navnit Motors (Bangalore) and KUN Exclusive (Hyderabad). BMW has officially launched the 2016 MINI Countryman in the country priced at Rs 36.50 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The new model though is being brought in via the Completely Built Unit (CBU) route in India as the predecessor saw limited sales.