The cool adulting tool 2021 MINI Countryman is here

The MINI Countryman now accounts for almost 30 per cent of the brand’s new registrations globally.

By George Kuruvilla

Published: Thu 22 Apr 2021, 3:45 PM

In MINI’s 60-something year heritage, there’s been nothing quite like the Countryman. Yes, the nameplate has been used before, but it was the first to offer five doors, five seats and optional all-wheel drive, when reintroduced in 2010. Let’s take closer look at the 2nd generation of this crossover SUV, which received a facelift recently.

Old-School Love!

Neo-retro styling is all the rage these days! Be it the undercut hair style that has made a comeback after the 1920s or the athletic wear of the 80s or how large corporations like Pepsi are reverting to their original advertising labels in some markets. Similarly, the automaker MINI has been capitalising on this aspect for a while, i.e. people’s love for the old. The iconic dinky-car styling keeps their cars characterful and selling.

This 2021 Countryman retains a lot of the pre-facelift model’s visuals, save a few. At the fore are the familiar trapezoidal headlamp clusters, that we have grown to like over the years. For the ‘S’ model, the chrome band around the headlamps and other trims are now painted black. New owners can benefit from the standard all-LED fixtures, including the fog lamps. But the tweaked front and rear fender are nothing to write home about. The big change, however, are the rear lamps that have been incorporated into the ‘Union Jack’ motif — once the symbol for colonial enterprise. As before, the ‘S’ model keeps the power dome, hexagonal mesh grille instead of the slatted one and the two tailpipes at the rear, all suggestive of the bump in power over the base model. As for off-road worthiness, the slight increase in ride height over its hatchback sibling, the plastic wheel arches, and roof rails depict the necessary.

The interior is a funhouse of quirky shapes and textures. And the fact that it can look appealing even in all black is a testament of its design genius. Also, nothing rattles! The panels and switchgear are top drawer. For 2021, the decidedly chunky steering wheel, with its multitude of buttons, is retained. The embedded raciness of the MINI is apparent once you grip it. They have switched out the circular analogue gauges for the new age 5-inch elliptical digital instrument cluster. The other screen in the vehicle is the 6.5-inch colour infotainment screen — upgradable to 8.8-inch — which is set on the now-iconic dinner-plate-sized centre console. The almost cartoonish feature gets even more animated with its illuminated edge that changes colours when you fiddle with the digital menus via the circular iDrive controller, touchscreen or voice controls.

At 4.3 metre length, it might sound anything but MINI, but this translates to larger door cavities, meaning easier ingress and egress for occupants. This is a MINI that actually fits people comfortably. Even 6 footers don’t have to dread the hind quarters, the seats of which can be reclined and/or slid forward or backward by 13 centimetres.

MINI, lending voice to the many!

A few centuries ago, voices of even the greatest people could only reach a few. The invention of the microphone grew that number to a few thousands. And with the advent of the Internet and social media platforms, everyone who has access to it — some 4 billion — has been granted a voice and a presence. MINI has contributed to this revolution by way of customisation. Buyers can customise their cars, making them feel like an extension of their identities. It is not just about interior and exterior livery, but wheel designs, wheel diameters etc. Fancy a contrasting roof colour or racing stripes? You’ve got that too!

Turbo power and recycling

In turbo motors, like in the Countryman, the exhaust gases that exit the combustion chambers are always hot, pressurised and have tonnes of energy. These gases are run through a turbine or turbines — hence the name turbo(s) — which, in turn, powers an air compressor that puts compressed air back into the combustion chamber, thereby increasing its effective displacement. Recycling works a bit like that. The trash that we create as individuals, families or nations is a lot. But if you can take a portion of it and either reuse, repurpose or recycle it, then you’re getting a lot more for your money’s worth, while caring for the planet. Of course, if you really do care about the environment, you ought to create less junk or in this case, drive with a light foot whenever possible.

Under the hood of this Countryman S is a Twin Power Turbo 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine that churns out a seemingly modest 189 bhp and 280 Nm of torque. This is one zippy car and don’t let the stat-obsessed keyboard warriors convince you otherwise. Press the red starter toggle and engine comes on sending a mild but interesting resonance into the cabin. Squeeze the throttle pedal and it will sprint from standstill to 100 km/h in just over seven seconds.

The vehicle’s ALL4 all-wheel drive system, besides eliminating torque steer observed in FWD cars, optimises traction over all sorts of surfaces. And with help from the stiff but compliant suspension, it carries its weight around corners well — delivering a riveting driving experience. While this is no Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV), the claimed 8-ish l/100km economy rating is appreciable, and this facelift variant meets Euro 6d emissions standards too.

As for multi-terrain talent, keep it to sand splashing around the beaches, else you risk the chance of getting sand into your shoes and some embarrassment too.

For the adulting young folk and the young at heart

We’ve always heard people whining from two kinds of folk. The majority are those who need to change their vehicle and their lifestyle, while transitioning into family life, often involving a new born or parents. And the second kind are those who have found a new zest for life and who want something fun and swanky but don’t want to give up on comforts and flexibility, but can find something suitable. Luckily, the MINI Countryman is one that caters to both types, appealing to all age groups in terms of style, space and practicality. The latter is something which is not typically associated with MINIs, so let’s talk more about it!

In the Countryman, there are four ways to open the boot, one by using the driver controls, the key fob, the button on the hatch or just by placing your foot under the rear bumper. The 450-litre luggage compartment is sufficiently large and will eat up all your travel totes. It is expandable upto 1,390 litres by folding down the 40:20:40 split rear seats. If safety is your concern, the Countryman has a host of electronic chaperones, like a camera-based active cruise control, road sign detection, parking sensors, rear view camera and Head-Up-Display. It’s also earned five stars in the Euro NCAP crash test rating. These will ensure that whether you are travelling solo or with company, every life is protected. As for connectivity, you’ve got Bluetooth, USB ports for charging and a wireless charger.

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