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OUR FLEET TEST DRIVE: Mini Countryman - 2nd Report

Date: 08 August 2011   |   Author: Guy Bird

Our Countryman is still a brand new experience so we're discovering loads on every journey.

Its sheer size, for example, is confusing. The other night I came home late to my London street and although there were two decent-sized parking spaces left, I wasn't confident of fitting easily into either of them - something you'd expect to do in a car traditionally associated with being a city vehicle and more recently a nimble supermini. The Countryman might look like the latter but it's so much bigger, as our photo of a chance encounter with its smaller sibling shows. Maybe if the proportions were more significantly enlarged in one direction - rather than pumped up almost equally in length, height and width - its shape wouldn't play as many visual tricks.

On the subject of parking, the Countryman has an aircraft-style manual parking brake with a horizontal handle like on old Vauxhall Zafiras and Renault Meganes. Stylish it may be, but it's awkward within the confines of this car - the armrest needs to be up to perform the task easily - and seems to require more effort than normal handbrakes. Indeed, I noticed online aftermarket kits are available for such brakes to add leverage. Surely a sign of form over function?

Mini Cooper D Countryman (manual)
Claimed combined
Our average
P11D price£19,155
Model price range£16,345-£24,440
CO2 (tax) 115g/km/13%
BIK 20/40% per month£42/£83
Service interval Variable
Insurancegroup 18E
Warranty3yrs/Unlimited miles
Boot space (min/max)350/1170 litres
Engine size/power1598cc/112hp
Top speed/0-62mph115mph/10.9secs
Why we’re running itTo see if it’s a
brand extension
too far or whether
Mini can be
practical while
staying fun-to-drive
PositiveStandout looks,
neat interior displays
NegativeLooks, size,
awkward handbrake