The MINI has had quite the success here in the States, something that was a little unexpected considering the perception that America is super-sized and has no need for anything that is small. The problem with that perception is that we have cars that have done pretty well for themselves like the MINI Cooper and Cooper S, Smart ForTwo, Mazda Miata and Scion xA. Maybe the last decade have embodied a shift in what the consumer wants or possibly there are people that like being able to whip into a parking spot anywhere in town. That all said, the MINI Countryman brings the power of four to the equation giving consumers a small option with a lot of space.
Think of the 2011 MINI Countryman as a British version of the PT Cruiser or Chevrolet HHR. It is a four-door crossover vehicle that packs a pretty impressive 41.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded flat. The theme here is four. The MINI Countryman has four doors, four-wheel drive, four-cylinder engine and about four inches shorter than its nearest competitor the Volkswagen Golf. Car and Driver recently drove the prototype 2011 MINI Countryman and has pretty good things to say about it (other than their comments on it being softer and larger like American’s). For a car that is a little higher than the standard MINI Cooper (a H-point that is 2.8 inches higher) it is no surprise that C&D finds that “it’s slightly softer than the rest of the Mini lineup, with slightly slower steering and a little bit more body roll.”
Some will find the ride qualities of the Countryman a major plus compared to the standard MINI Cooper or Clubman. C&D says it is “soft but very affable.” The Countryman will also be the only MINI capable of doing a four-wheel drift, especially in the S trim. The base model will come rated at 121 hp and 118 lb-ft of torque. The S will come rated at 181 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. So if you are in the market for MINI crossover, then be prepared to pony up around $24K for the base model and another $3K for the base S model.