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Mini Countryman engines, driving and performance

How does the Mini Countryman drive?

Sitting a bit higher off the ground than the Mini hatchback, the Mini Countryman doesn’t quite have the same rapid reactions. It’s still very agile, especially for an SUV, and is responsive to quick changes of direction. We’d call it 'chuckable' and, importantly for the Mini brand, it serves up some fun down a twisty back road. If you need a bigger or taller car for family life or for mobility issues but you still like driving, you could do far worse than the Countryman.

Is the Mini Countryman comfortable?

Mini makes no apologies for the Countryman’s sporty feel and limited body roll, which is achieved by having a fairly firm suspension setup. It’s not uncomfortable, but the Countryman doesn’t disguise the bumps like a Mercedes or Lexus. You’ll notice the state of the road surface beneath you, but most of the impacts are filtered out before they reach the cabin. On fast roads, the Countryman is pretty comfortable, and its sports seats keep you in place.

What’s the best Mini Countryman engine to get?

A diesel engine was offered in the first few years of the Countryman’s lifespan. It might be worth hunting out this comparatively rare engine if you’re going to be spending a lot of time on motorways or need four-wheel drive.

Otherwise, you have a choice of three petrol engines and a plug-in hybrid. The petrol engines start with the 134hp 1.5-litre ‘Cooper’ engine, and this’ll be plenty for most buyers. It offers respectable performance and 44mpg, so it won’t be expensive to run for drivers with a low-to-medium annual mileage.

Above that is the Cooper S, with a 2.0-litre engine pushing out 178hp. It’s reportedly capable of 43mpg (or almost 40mpg with four-wheel drive), but you’ll have to resist using its extra power if you want to achieve these figures.

Topping the range is the John Cooper Works engine with a huge 306hp, making it a rival to a surprising number of performance SUVs such as the Volkswagen T-Roc R, Audi SQ2, BMW X2 M35i and Mercedes-AMG GLA 35.

There’s also the Countryman Plug-in Hybrid, which straps a 95hp electric motor to the 1.5-litre petrol engine, for a total output of 220hp. With its 8.8kWh battery fully charged, you can drive for up to 30 miles on electric power alone – so short journeys can be done without using a drop of fuel.

The hybrid also comes with an eDrive button, which allows you to switch modes between Max eDrive (uses the electric power as much as possible), Save Battery (for saving the battery power for later in the journey) and Auto eDrive, which sees the car juggle the two power sources by itself. If you download the Mini smartphone app, you can also remotely pre-cool or pre-heat the car’s cabin when it’s charging from your phone – you never need to wait for the car to warm up on a cold winter’s day.

Mini Countryman performance

Even the lowest-powered Cooper engine reaches 62mph from a standstill in under 10 seconds, so it’ll never feel slow in normal day-to-day driving. On paper, the Cooper S knocks nearly 2.5 seconds off that time, hitting 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds. It feels fairly quick but it’s not going to push you back into your seat.

With its electric power available instantly, the plug-in hybrid does feel pretty quick off the line. It shaves another half a second or so off the Cooper S’ acceleration time. The most powerful Countryman, the John Cooper Works, is unsurprisingly the fastest, with its five-second 0-62mph time capable of embarrassing plenty of junior sports cars.

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