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In-depth reviews

MINI Countryman review - Engines, drive & performance

The MINI Countryman strikes a good balance between comfort and agility on the road, though some rivals are more fun

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Engines, drive & performance Rating

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​We’ve tested the latest MINI Countryman in petrol John Cooper Works (JCW) and electric SE guise. The JCW is the most powerful petrol model, and for most buyers it won’t be worth springing for. While our first drive on smooth European roads revealed a good balance in ride and comfort, this wasn't the case when we tackled British roads. Here, the suspension and steering felt too nervous and susceptible to being upset by our poor tarmac. We expect the less powerful Countryman C and S with softer suspension will be better, but we’ll reserve full judgement until we’ve driven them.

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The electric Countryman SE ALL4 dual-motor variant is actually the most powerful of the entire MINI Countryman lineup. It felt punchy in a variety of environments, and though the steering isn’t the most communicative and could be a little quicker, it’s accurate and has a good weight to it. While we’re yet to drive it, most buyers will probably be happy enough with the entry-level electric model, the front wheel-drive Countryman E. It’s much cheaper than the Countryman SE and its 201bhp power figure should be more than enough for most buyers.

Is the MINI Countryman good to drive in town?

We were impressed by how well the MINI Countryman SE performed in terms of ride quality. We’d expect the Countryman to perform well in pot-hole-ridden towns thanks to this good balance of agility and comfort, so long as you don't mind a ride on the more comfort-focused end of the spectrum.

Is the MINI Countryman good to drive on long journeys?

The MINI Countryman feels much more mature than the previous model to drive, thanks in part to its longer wheelbase. The JCW and SE models we tested were no-doubt punchy, but there was a notable amount of tyre roar from the 20-inch wheels in both models. Overall, though, we were particularly impressed with how accomplished the Countryman SE felt to cruise along at speed in for an electric car – its electric motors were very refined and made for a more relaxing experience than the dull drone from the JCW’s petrol engine.

Is the MINI Countryman good to drive on B-roads?

The MINI Countryman SE felt capable on a twisty road, with accurate, well-weighted steering and good body control that meant it did a fine job of settling after sharp changes in direction. One gripe was that despite the JCW being the performance variant, there are SUVs out there that feel a lot more fun in comparison, such as the Cupra Formentor.

Petrol models

The Countryman S ALL4 gets a mild-hybrid turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 215bhp and is four wheel-drive. The JCW variant uses this same 2.0-litre engine and four wheel-drive system, but power is uprated to 296bhp –  surprisingly, it’s a little down on power in comparison to the old Countryman JCW, which produces around 5bhp more, and it doesn't sound overly evocative.

Accelerate in the JCW and power builds consistently, but there's no crescendo, so there's little reward to hanging on to each gear. We also found the automatic gearbox could jerk between gears at low speeds, although it does offer quick upshifts when driven hard.

Model 

Power

0-62mph

Top speed

MINI Countryman C

168bhp

8.3 seconds

132mph

MINI Countryman S ALL4

215bhp

7.1 seconds

N/A

MINI Countryman JCW

296bhp

5.4 seconds

155mph

Electric models 

For the first time the MINI Countryman is offered with two electric models. These are badged Countryman E, with a single front-wheel drive motor, or Countryman SE with a dual-motor four-wheel drive configuration.

Model 

Power

0-62mph

Top speed

MINI Countryman E

201bhp

8.6 seconds

106mph

MINI Countryman SE ALL4

309bhp

5.6 seconds

112mph

Carbuyer notes

“Does the MINI Countryman feel as agile as a regular three-door MINI? Of course not. But nor does it feel totally out of its depth beyond urban roads and motorways.” John McIlroy, Editor-at-large

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Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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