Test Drive: 2011 Mini Cooper Countryman car test drives reviews mini
2011 Mini Countryman. Click image to enlarge

Ah yes… option packages. They are the name of the game in Mini-land. Heated seats come bundled with the sunroof and Bluetooth (Media Connect) for $1,900. The Style Package, Tech Package and Convenience Package pushed the price up further.

Official fuel consumption for the six-speed manual Countryman is 7.3 L/100 km city and 5.6 L/100 km highway. I saw 7.6 L/100 km for my week, and premium fuel is required.

A cynic (who me?) might look at the 2011 Mini Cooper Countryman as an over-priced, over-styled, poorly-packaged, dull-driving push to expand the Mini brand into crossover territory. And go spend his 32 large on the sublime VW GTI.

So I don’t get this car, and I guess I’m not supposed to. Just ask my daughter.

Test Drive: 2011 Mini Cooper Countryman car test drives reviews mini
2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4. Click image to enlarge

Maybe the full-blown Countryman Cooper S ALL4 will put me in a better mood. With a corresponding price jump to $34,400 (a hefty $44,660 as tested), we see a turbocharged version of the 1.6-litre four pushing 181 hp and 177 lb.-ft. mostly through the front wheels, although up to 50 per cent of the torque will be directed to the rear wheels if conditions or driving style demand it.

There is a front-drive Cooper S Countryman with a MSRP of $32,650. This ALL4 was fitted with the $990 Sport package that adds sports suspension, 18-inch “Turbo Fan” alloys and a Sport button that calls up a more aggressive transmission map and firmer steering feel.

After hitting the first on-ramp, my faith was restored. The Cooper S Countryman ALL4 drives like a different car. It’s alert, takes a set, grips and calls out for more. In short, classic Mini fun in a bigger package.

Test Drive: 2011 Mini Cooper Countryman car test drives reviews mini
2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4. Click image to enlarge

The 1.6-litre four in pressurized form gives this crossover wings, and the six-speed auto works well, kicking down and hanging onto gears like a performance-tuned tranny should. Now, to flick the paddle shifters. Bloody hell! It’s fitted with those silly push-me-pull-you devices that make no sense in my books. Even arrogant Porsche is abandoning these for the universal left-paddle-for-downshift, right-paddle-for-upshift variety.

That said, you can get used to anything – even that ridiculious speedometer. Luckily there is a digital speed readout within the tachometer.

In conclusion, the Mini Countryman comes in two distinct flavours. For those not too concerned with spirited driving dynamics, the base Cooper delivers the extra space and cheeky persona that this four-door Mini is really all about. The Cooper S ALL4 brings performance and security of all-wheel-drive into the equation.

Pricing: 2011 Mini Cooper Countryman
  • Base price:$27,850
  • Options:$4,300 (Comfort Package $1900 (Glass Sunroof, Heated Front Seats, Media Connect); Style Package $450 (Chrome line interior/exterior, piano black int trim); Tech Package $1200 (integrated visual display, MINI connected, Combox Controller); Convenience Package $750 (alarm, comfort access, front centre armrest, auto climate control)
  • A/C tax:$100
  • Freight:$1,595
  • Price as tested:$33,845
    Pricing: 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4

  • Base price:$34,400
  • Options:$10,260 (Comfort Package $1900 (Glass Sunroof, Heated Front Seats, Media Connect); Style Package $450 (Chrome line interior/exterior, piano black int trim); Tech Package $1200 (integrated visual display, MINI connected, Combox Controller); Convenience Package $750 (alarm, comfort access, front centre armrest, auto climate control); Lights Package $890 (fog lights, rain sensor w/ auto headlamps, bi-xenon headlights, adaptive headlights, white indicator lights); Sport Package $990 (sport suspension, sport button); Lounge Leather $1900, six-speed auto $1490; 18-inch 5 Star black alloys $690
  • A/C tax:$100
  • Freight:$1,595
  • Price as tested:$46,355
    Specifications

  • Buyer’s Guide: 2011 Mini Countryman
    Competitors

  • Buyer’s Guide: Audi A3
  • Buyer’s Guide: BMW X1
  • Buyer’s Guide: Infiniti EX35
    Crash test results

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

ALL4 a price.




About Peter

Peter Bleakney is a Toronto-based automotive journalist. He is also a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).