Alain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld
2021 MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4
This week we are reviewing the MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4. Our vehicle was assembled at Born factory in the Netherlands and had an MSRP of $47,030.00 CAD.
Fun Factor: 7
Can it Family: 7
Karaoke Friendly: 7
City Cruising: 8
In 2017 when the current generation of Countryman was released, it was a new dawn for MINI. It released the biggest MINI with all-new engines that were sourced directly from BMW. North Americans got three different engines, a base 1.5L Turbo that we tested on the MINI Clubman; we found it very fuel-efficient at the time. The same engine is also used in the Plugin Hybrid. On the flip side, the Countryman S and the John Cooper Works received a 2.0L Turbo engine offering two different outputs. Fast forward to today, this might have been the best thing that happened to MINI. Why would you ask? With the updated model came a renaissance in terms of reliability, joining the ranks of the most reliable brands.
The Countryman S produces 189hp and 207 lb-ft of torque; while this figure was incredible in 2017 for a compact SUV, it feels adequate in 2021, with direct competitors offering more power and more luxury for the price. Yes, MINI still has the upper hand when it comes to handling and enjoyment. However, the gap in the difference in power between the JCW and the S has increased significantly. Initially, there was a 42 horsepower difference between these two models; today, the power difference is 112! Even its hybrid counterpart is faster to 100km/h, questioning if the S is still worthy of the S badge today.
Now the big question, how can a family fit in a MINI? That's because the Countryman isn't that mini inside; it can seat 5, with the middle seat better suited for a child. As a family of 5, we had no issues fitting every family member. Our kids also found the rear seats to be comfortable and offer good support. As for cargo, a medium-sized stroller will fit in the trunk while leaving plenty of space for shopping bags. The rear seats fold in a 40/20/40 configuration and can slide back or forward for more comfort or cargo room when needed. MINI has also revamped the gage cluster making it all digital; while it doesn't offer more information than the previous analog variant, we found that for taller drivers, it became extremely hard to read the fuel consumption.
The average fuel economy observed was 8.8L/100km over a 500km distance. The average fuel economy was 9.7L/100km in the city, and on the Hwy, we saw an average fuel economy of 6.9L/100km. The low fuel economy and 61L fuel tank make the Countryman a very interesting long-distance commuter. MINI announces the following fuel economy, 10.4L/100km in the city, 7.5L/100km on the HWY for a combined result of 9.1L/100km. During our test, temperatures oscillated between -12c and +12c.
Our model was equipped with the optional Harmon Kardon sound system that is of decent quality for everyday use at this price point. The system feels tuned more towards urban and EDM music. Other music styles will sound good, though it may not reproduce treble sounds as precisely. However, unless you're an audiophile, you might not even realize the difference and will be very happy with the sound system quality. As for the infotainment, MINI uses a similar variation of BMW iDrive called MINI Connected; in our vehicle, we had the larger 8.8-inch high-resolution touchscreen that also includes Apple CarPlay. Unfortunately, Android Auto is not yet integrated with the MINI connect system; it has been announced on BMW products and will most likely trickle to MINI after some time. For 2021 some of its stylings have been updated, and given a black piano surface around it, both superb looking, and a fingerprint magnet requires regular cleaning to keep looking good. It is simple to use, and even though it is a touch screen, we've been drawn to use the click wheel instead of the touchscreen outside of Apple CarPlay. The menus are simple to navigate; we would see room for improvement in having fewer sub-menus in the system. You can also control additional features using the updated MINI app, which enables you to see how much fuel is remaining, unlock the car directly from your phone and even locate your vehicle.
Now how simple is it to install car seats? The rear door opening is fairly wide, you will not have any difficulty entering most car seats, and the higher stance of the car also means you don't have to kneel into the vehicle to install car seats. The ISOFIX ports are easily accessible and are hidden under flaps that open upwards, and which can be quickly closed when not in use. The rear anchor port is best attached when the trunk is open; otherwise, you would need to remove it to pass the rear anchor due to the tight fit of the parcel shelf. We've installed a variety of car seats, and the front passenger doesn't end up in the dash; MINI has well-designed the rear cabin of the Countryman to make it usable for a family. A child may still sit in the back with 2 car seats installed thanks to the flat bench.
Even though the Countryman is not so mini anymore, we found the city drive experience enjoyable and never found it difficult to find a parking spot big enough for it. The only annoyance we could find while parking was the very sensitive proximity sensors combined with the sounds used when getting closer to an object; this could mean a small block of ice. While we were testing, we went through a period of heavy, sticky snow, and the snow covering the sensor made it ring. Luckily, we could turn off the system or reduce the sound within the infotainment. We would like to see an easy toggle switch similar to what we can find aboard its cousin, the BMW X1.
Why would we buy the MMINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4, or what we liked about it? The excellent handling MINI is known for is still here, excellent fuel economy, plenty of space, a plug-in hybrid variant is available. A fun vehicle that has shown to be reliable over the years.
Why would we not buy the MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4, or what we did not like about it? The S variant hasn't received any power bump since 2017. To get wireless Apple Car Play, you need to select the highest trim (Premier +); the prices vs option available make it an expensive proposition; the overall look hasn't changed in 5 years, only minor aesthetic.
MINI has lent us this vehicle one week as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with MINI Canada. The above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the car referred above.
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