Meet the second generation of MINI’s soft crossover, the bigger and more masculine 2017 Countryman, revealed a few weeks prior to its world debut at the LA Auto Show in mid-November.
When MINI presented the first generation of the Countryman back in 2010, it was the brand’s biggest model, a title it lost last year with the transformation of the new Clubman into a proper five, or rather, six-door station wagon, only to regain that distinction now in its second iteration.
The 2017 Countryman has grown by 200mm (7.9 in.) in overall length and 30mm (1.2 in.) in width, while its wheelbase has been extended by 75mm (nearly 3 inches), thus positioning it closer to regular compact SUVs like Audi’s Q3.
MINI says that the growth spurt has resulted in “significantly increased space on five fully-fledged seats” as well as in storage, with luggage compartment volume up by 220 liters over its predecessor to 450 liters or 1,309 liters when the seats are folded.
Speaking of seats, the new Countryman that comes with an available electric tailgate control offers a unique option called “Picnic Bench” that folds out of the luggage compartment and provides seating for two more people when the car is stationary – of course.
For the most part, MINI maintained the original Countryman’s exterior design adding a bit of angularity into the mix with edgier cues like the headlamps and creases on the fenders for a tougher and more rugged look. Inside, the brand’s crossover shares several elements with other newer MINIs, including the large touchscreen positioned in the round component on the center console.
The crossover rides on the BMW Group’s UKL2 platform shared with other MINI and BMW models that allowed the use of a plug-in hybrid powertrain, a first for the British brand.
Named the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4, it borrows the BMW 225xe’s propulsion system pairing a 134hp (136PS) 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine driving the front wheels via a 6sp autobox to an 87hp (88PS) electric motor turning the rear wheels, with the system delivering a combined 221hp (224PS) and 284 lb-ft (385Nm) of torque. The plug-in hybrid drive enables purely electric driving at a top speed of 80mph (125km/h) with MINI claiming a fuel consumption of 2.1l/100km (equal to 112mpg US / 134.5 mpg UK) in the EU test cycle with CO2 emissions of 49g/km. It also has an all-electric range of 25 miles (40km).
Naturally, the Countryman will offer conventional engines, including a pair of gasoline units, a 134hp 1.5-liter three-pot for the Cooper, and a 189hp 2.0-liter four in the Cooper S, with markets outside the USA also having the option of a 2.0-liter diesel, producing 148hp (150PS) in the Cooper D, and 187hp (190PS) in the Cooper SD.
MINI Cooper Countryman: 3-cylinder petrol engine, capacity: 1 499 cc, output: 100 kW/136 PS, max. torque: 220 Nm.
MINI Cooper S Countryman: 4-cylinder petrol engine, capacity: 1 998 cc, output: 141 kW/192 PS, max. torque: 280 Nm.
MINI Cooper D Countryman: 4-cylinder diesel engine, capacity: 1 995 cc, output: 110 kW/150 PS, max. torque: 330 Nm.
MINI Cooper SD Countryman: 4-cylinder diesel engine, capacity: 1 995 cc, output: 140 kW/190 PS, max. torque: 400 Nm.
Gasoline models and the Cooper D come with a standard 6-speed manual, while a 6sp automatic is offered for the Cooper. An 8sp automatic is standard on the Cooper SD and available on the Cooper S and Cooper D. MINI’s all-wheel drive system ALL4 is available as an option on all four models. A hotter John Cooper Works model, most likely fitted with the same 228hp 2.0-liter turbo as the Clubman JCW, will follow next year.
The new Countryman will go on sale in the US in March 2017, with plug-in hybrid variant to follow in June of the same year. Pricing for the U.S. market will be announced at a later stage.