MINI has launched its latest and largest model, and the first to offer four-wheel drive, to the UK market.
The Mini Countryman range is the fourth member of the Mini family following Hatch, Convertible and Clubman.
It is available in five models, three of which will offer ALL4, Mini’s new four-wheel drive option.
“Countryman takes the Mini story to a new level,” said Jochen Goller, Director of Mini UK. “The extra space and ALL4 Mini break new ground in the brand’s 51-year heritage. With Countryman prices starting at £16,000 and a very high standard specification, we are introducing more MINI piquancy into the crossover market this year.”
The Countryman range includes three petrol and two diesel models, as well as two ALL4 all-wheel-drive models – the Cooper D ALL4 and Cooper S ALL4. The petrol engines are the new 1.6-litre power plants already announced for the Hatch, Convertible and Clubman models. The diesel units are shared with the rest of the Mini range.
The petrol engines all feature Variable Valve Timing (VVT) similar to the BMW Valvetronic system that produces more torque low down and aids overall efficiency. The Cooper S model also features a twin-scroll turbocharger and direct fuel injection that gives blistering performance with modest fuel economy and low CO2; emissions. All engines meet EU5 emissions standards.
“The Countryman models still pack in the driving thrills that put a grin on your face the way all MINIs do,” said Lee Connolly, MINI UK Product Manager. “But the Countryman also brings new levels of space and versatility to the range that will attract not only existing MINI owners but also new customers. We expect that the extra space will mean that around 80 per cent of Countryman sales will come from customers completely new to the MINI brand.”
Two models in the new Countryman range offer four-wheel drive. The MINI Cooper D and Cooper S ALL4 models are available as models from day one. A MINI Cooper ALL4 version follows in 2012.
“Countryman ALL4 is a soft off-roader for use in everyday situations like parking in a field for a sporting event or driving on the beach,” explained Connolly.
The ALL4 models costs a modest £1,065 for the Cooper D and £1,220 for the Cooper S above the standard front-wheel drive Countryman models and the penalty in terms of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions is smaller than one might expect.
The demand for crossover vehicles has grown substantially recently: drivers want the best of both worlds with normal saloon-like driving responses as well as the added versatility of soft off-road ability and the interior flexibility to cope with all the hobbies, shopping trips and activities that are a huge part of the typical busy modern family life.
All Countryman models will be built by Magna Steyr in Austria. Although it is the first MINI model not to be built at MINI’s spiritual home in Oxford, the brand’s worldwide success means that there is insufficient capacity to make Countryman at present. It has been confirmed that the forthcoming Coupé and Roadster models will be built in Oxford.
MINI Countryman made its debut at the Geneva Show and it went on sale in the UK on September 18 with prices starting at a very affordable £16,000.