Review

MINI Countryman hatchback

£16,990 - £30,125

The MINI Countryman gives you traditional three-door MINI looks in a larger five-door body, which means there's a lot more space inside and a much larger boot than you’ll get in the normal MINI hatchback. The Countryman's looks are stretched over a longer body, so the five-door can’t quite match the three-door's cheeky style.

For 2014, the model had a light facelift. That brought with it new-style alloy wheels and a Jungle Green paint finish. The black exterior pack is another new addition, adding black surrounds to the front and rear lights.

You can personalise the MINI Countryman to your heart's content, with plenty of colours on offer and graphics to distinguish your car from other examples. Lots of optional extras are available, although as ever with MINI, they’re quite pricey. Buying them in packs can mitigate this somewhat.

MINIs are known for being fun to drive, and the Countryman continues that theme. It's a lot taller than a MINI hatchback, which means there's more body lean in corners, but it's not too bad. The Countryman is also available with four-wheel drive (when it's known as the MINI Countryman ALL4), which gives a level of grip on slippery roads that the smaller MINI can’t match.

However, the Countryman is better suited to road driving than off-roading and its range of engines offers a choice of peppy performance or cheap running costs. The MINI John Cooper Works Countryman is particularly rapid, while the MINI One D Countryman is the most economical model.

Rivals include the Skoda Yeti and Nissan Qashqai, or even the Audi A3 Sportback if you’re prepared to consider a premium hatchback instead of a crossover-style SUV.