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I like history. Especially things that have one like the MINI brand. 

 

The original MINI Countryman launched 57 years ago, back in 1960. It was produced by Austin for 9 years. Nicknamed Woody, due to its quirky wooden trim detail, which appeared on the rear part of its exterior. Today, you can expect to pay over R160 000 for one in decent nick. 

 

The second generation arrived many years later, with BMW's backing, in 2010. It was met with good global success, selling more than half a million units during its 7-year lifespan.

 

Seven years have passed and it's time to usher in the third-generation MINI Countryman. 

 

The design teams working at iconic car brands like Porsche or MINI have their hands tied in the freedom department. Free flowing penmanship is replaced with study and respect. They must design a car that stays true to the brand’s iconic ethos, yet remaining current with modern times. This could have perplexed the design team - especially since a MINI is all about being classically boxy and mini. The conundrum has been solved with the 3rd generation Countryman. Or has it? 

 

The new Countryman is now more chiselled. It is squarer than the previous generation, making it more like the original. Now 20cm longer, the Countryman shares the same modern proportions as an array of other compact crossover vehicles. As a result, it is not such a mini MINI anymore. In fact, all the current MINI's in the range: the 3-door and 5-door hatch, the Convertible, the Clubman and now the Countryman are all healthy-sized cars that are equal to their rivals in dimension. I suppose this is where function proceeds form, especially if the dimensions of yesteryear couldn’t possibly be popular today with us hormone-infused humans. 

 

These handsome dimensions give the Countryman very respectable interior accommodations. There is space for 5 adults, the boot is bigger (450 litres and extended to 1 309) than that of a VW Golf and there are lots of practical design elements in the Countryman - making it perfect for the family. Does it sound like the new Countryman has lost some of its character in favour of practically? Well, this isn't the case - it's high-quality interior is loaded with playful charm - from the squared-off dashboard to the youthful switchgear, and playful and highly customizable interior finishes. 

Size aside, being a MINI, the brand ethos promises a go-kart driving experience with all their products. The new Countryman is no exception. Yes, it shares its underpinnings with the BMW X1, although the MINI does ride lower so it feels more fun around corners than its German cousin. 

 

The range of Countryman is offered initially in Cooper or Cooper S guises. Later in the year, the speedy JCW will arrive, featuring John Cooper Works enhancements. For the first time locally, we will be getting the Cooper D version, a Diesel engine option. 

 

MINI Cooper Countryman: 3-cylinder petrol engine, capacity: 1.5-L
output: 100 kW, max. torque: 220 Nm.
MINI Cooper S Countryman: 4-cylinder petrol engine, capacity: 2.0-L, output: 141 kW, max. torque: 280 Nm.

MINI John CooperWorks Countryman: 4-cylinder petrol engine, capacity: 2.0-L, output: 170 kW, max. torque: 350 Nm.
MINI Cooper D Countryman: 4-cylinder diesel engine, capacity: 2.0-L, output: 110 kW, max. torque: 330 Nm. *available in the third quarter of 2017.

 

As an alternative to the standard 6-speed manual transmission, a 6-speed Steptronic transmission is also offered for the new MINI Cooper Countryman. An 8-speed Steptronic transmission is available for the new MINI Cooper S Countryman.

 

The Countryman is for the lover of all things MINI. They have grown up, adding branches to their family tree. Filled with practicality and functionalities, its handy ground clearance begs its owners to add stories to their lives by taking the Countryman on adventures. Road trips long and wide are welcome, dirt roads too, although don't get too wild with the Countryman, as MINI South Africa has only ordered the front wheel drive version. Leave the hardcore bundu-bashing to the bakkies. 

 

Pricing 

 

MINI Cooper Countryman (manual) - R424 500

MINI Cooper Countryman (6-speed Steptronic) - R442 500

 

MINI Cooper S Countryman (manual) - R492 500

MINI Cooper S Countryman (8-speed Steptronic) - R512 000

MINI Cooper S Countryman (Sports Auto) - R522 000

 

MINI John CooperWorks Countryman - TBC

MINI Cooper D Countryman - TBC

 

www.mini.co.za

 

 

 

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