There are a few automotive marquees that excite the youth and MINI is a brand that has been inspiring the awe of millions across the globe for decades. From its visuals all across Mr.Bean's episodes to it flying out like a rocket in the movie, the Italian Job. We all love them, they come in all shapes and colours and their popular Countryman just went under the knife to get a fresh face. Welcome, the 2019 MINI Countryman SD. Is this Diesel MINI worth it? Let's find out.
DOES IT APPEAL? The Countryman is a beefed-up MINI Cooper which sits higher up the ground and can go over surfaces that the normal Mini hatchback probably would struggle at. It is majorly based on the platform on which the BMW X1 sits, but unlike the X1 this car attracts attention to the MAX!
It is wider and longer than the X1 and has many elements to make it look the money. The wonderful blue paint, to start off with has a beautiful metallic lustre which is hard to find in this category of cars, the spherical theme of MINI cars is made to look more muscular with Squircle headlamp design, a big front grille and the air intakes that are integrated into the bumper. There is a muscular bulge in between the hood which accentuates the rough road-ability of the Countryman. On the side, the thick plastic cladding helps make the car look visually wider than it is, but the round rear view mirrors mellow the muscular appeal down a bit.
As we move to the rear, the MINI style equation is amplified to make it appeal more mature and utilitarian. A good dose of chrome and gloss black panels help lift up the appeal of the car when viewed from behind. I really love the dual-tone colour combinations MINI has supplied as an option in the Countryman as it really makes it stand out in the crowd, but in this particular combination, it looks like a Doraemon. And, it isn't a bad thing at all!
MINI could have absolutely nailed it by giving more options on the Alloy wheels, optional equipment and customising options on the Countryman. But since it is now a CKD unit, they have narrowed down a few options rather than having an elaborate list to choose from. Although it makes life simpler for the buyer, it also means that you can no more make your MINI an absolute personalised experience like it used to be in the yesteryears.
INSIDES. Step into the cabin and you'll be greeted by a wide and elaborately designed cabin. Space inside looks promising and surely would not cause boredom to the young hearted buyer. The circular elements that are reminiscent of the MINI family genes, topped with high-quality materials and aesthetical designs, really up the luxury game. The Dashboard sits low, allowing a lot of road visibility to the driver which is also helped by the vertically raked windshield. The overall visibility from the cabin to the outside world is pretty damn good and the large window area also allows in a lot of light, which lightens up the completely blacked out cabin.
The steering is typical MINI and the instrument dials move with the steering column as you adjust it as per your preference. There are classic aircraft-inspired buttons below the multimedia display to start and to control other functions of the car and ask a 12-year-old who occasionally sits beside you, they'll go bonkers looking at that. There is a thick grey insert in the dashboard which could have been replaced by either carbon fibre or wood to make it look richer, but I am just being nit-picky.
Spreading my rather athletic body on the wonderfully contoured seat is a bliss. MINI knows how to make the most comfortable yet sporty seats in the business. There are acres of back and thigh support, the cushioning is top notch and they really hold you well when you are doing corners quickly. I have done long hours in the car driving on the highway, bad patches and twisties on a road trip and it has been an effortless experience.
Come to the rear seat situation and the experience is equivalent to sitting on a sofa in my living room. We take MINIs for being less practical and mostly suited for 2 adults plus 2 kids. It was the case with the previous generation of the Countryman as well with the space in the rear seat is minimal. The situation, however, is now changed. Since the sharing of the platform is with the latest generation of the BMW X1, the space is quite vast and this car can be used, wait for it, as a chauffeur-driven one as well. When was the last time you heard someone say that? There is a dedicated sunroof at the back too that lightens up the ambience quite substantially and the seats recline back for added comfort on long journeys. The MINI that is extremely comfortable, this fact hits me in the feels.
The steering feel and feedback is phenomenal as well, it is pretty much the character on which the core of MINI as a brand survives. But the engineers have made sure that besides the electronic servo assistance making life easier on the daily commute, you also get the experience of driving a go-kart with the point and shoot nature of the chassis and steering setup.
The MINI Countryman SD is fitted with a 2-litre twin-scroll turbo engine from the BMW stable that produces 190 bhp of Max Power and 400 Nm of Max Torque. This mated to an 8 speed ZF gearbox which indeed is a proper BMW set up and since it does not come with an All-Wheel Drive system, it is lightweight too. This reduction in weight helps the car in sprinting from 0 to 100 kmph in 7.2 seconds, which is incredible for a car that weighs 1540 kgs dry.
The noise insulation is great too and you feel relaxed inside the cabin on longer journeys, but when you put the pedal to the metal in sport mode, the exhausts really sound well with a deep burble that is iconic MINI. The wind and tyre noise are kept well in control by a generous amount of damping throughout the car.
You need to have a very extravagant taste to live with a Car like the MINI Countryman. It gets attention like no other car in its segment and it also has caused quite some accidents as people couldn't get their eyes off it. And with a city fuel economy figure of 14.2 kmpl and highway economy figure of 19.7 kmpl, it is massively easy on the pocket as well. What is also easy on the pocket is the price you pay for it. At Rs. 37.4 lac ex-showroom (Pan India) the MINI Countryman in its diesel avatar is a lot of car for the money. Quite a WIN-WIN situation here to be honest!