Car Reviews

2017 Mini Countryman Cooper SD All4 Review

Alex Rae’s 2017 Mini Countryman Cooper SD All4 Review with pricing, spec, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.

In a nutshell: An astute blend of practicality and performance for the family-oriented buyer.

2017 Mini Countryman Cooper SD All4

PRICE From $52,300+ORC WARRANTY 3 years/unlimited km ENGINE 2.0L turbocharged diesel four-cylinder POWER/TORQUE 140kW/400Nm TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic DRIVE  all-wheel drive DIMENSIONS 4299 (L), 1822mm (W EXC MIRRORS), 1557mm (H) SPARE space saver KERB WEIGHT 1535kg SEATSFUEL TANK 51 litres THIRST 5.2 L/100km combined cycle FUEL diesel

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INCREASING SALES in today’s car market seems to mean adding an SUV somewhere into the lineup. For Mini, that’s no easy feat, as it’s a brand with intrinsic values that mean otherwise… But given we’re almost overwhelmed with successful micro/mini/small crossover SUVs like the Suzuki Ignis, Audi Q2 and Mazda CX-3, it only makes sense that Mini grows up and tackles the family-oriented market.

What is the Mini Countryman Cooper SD All4?

In simple terms, the Countryman is a beefed-up Cooper with increased ground clearance, more cabin space and a bigger boot. Styling hasn’t deviated far from the contemporary Mini design cues, so it essentially looks Mini but feels big.

Priced from $52,300 (+ORCs) the top-spec Countryman SD sits at the top of the tree in terms of standard equipment and driveline (it’s 1kW less powerful than the Countryman S petrol but all-wheel drive). Rivals are the likes of the Audi Q2, Mercedes-Benz GLA and even parent-company BMW’s X1… But none of those can touch the Mini for looks, if it tickles your fancy.

Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloys, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, rearview camera, 6.5-inch infotainment, cloth/leather trim, LED headlights with auto high beam, adaptive cruise control and AEB.

Nifty features include the electric tailgate with kick-to-open function and tres cool Mini pavement projection lamps when in the dark. But most importantly the latest Mini Countryman has grown and has a bigger boot and better interior.

What’s the interior of the  Mini Countryman Cooper SD All4 like?

It’s nice inside, and the latest Mini has matured in styling and ergonomics from its predecessor. Our SD with cost-option Chester leather seats was particularly plush, although the standard cloth fabric and leather seats are nice too.

The manual (electric and heated seats are a cost-option) adjustable seats sit high and enhance the feeling of ride height and the steering wheel offers tilt-and-reach adjustment. In testing the driver’s seat adjusted well to both short and tall drivers.

The design throughout the cabin feels similar to any modern Mini but with items such as the speedometer and toggle switches a nod to the original (smaller) classic. The cost-option 8.8-inch infotainment screen (6.5-inch standard) in our test vehicle was bright and vibrant, and adds a premium touch over the previous unit. It doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but does get DAB+, satellite navigation and Bluetooth for phone calls and audio streaming. The unit is controlled via either touch or the iDrive controller which is similar to the rotary dial found in BMWs. It works well.

For the driver, a HUD displays speed, speed road sign and navigation information but it’s via a plastic flip up screen on top of the dash rather than the more impressive on-windscreen projection.

The rear row proves that the Countryman is a bigger space than that offered in any other Mini and there’s enough room for an adult to sit without kneeing the front seats. There’s also a good amount of headspace and a rear-facing baby seat fits without requiring the passenger seats to slide far forward. The 40:20:40 split-fold seats also slide (130mm) and recline which isn’t a common feature.

Around back the boot has grown and now offers 450 litres compared to the tight 350 litres offered previously – now bigger than some small-medium SUVs (think Mazda CX-5) and also functional, with hooks, straps and nets to harness loose items.

What’s the Mini Countryman Cooper SD All4 like on the road?

The SD’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel produces 140kW – simlar to the Cooper S petrol 141kW – and 400Nm of torque. On the road this translates to effective overtaking power and easy driving on steep hills and the like, but it doesn’t match the throttle response of the petrol cousin – despite that car having only 1kW more power and 120Nm less torque. However the Cooper S petrol doesn’t get the All4 all-wheel drive system fitted to the Countryman SD, which is rather effective.

The all-wheel drive impresses in most circumstances and there’s notably less torque-steer compared to the standard front-wheel drive Countryman. It also provides enhanced grip in wet and slippery conditions, including on gravel and unsealed roads, with well-planted and inspiring communication from the wheels.

Overall, the SD’s solid engine and driveline can provoke some fun driving, and the 8-speed automatic transmission is quick to flick through the gears. Three drive modes are available – eco, normal and sport – and each adjusts things like throttle response, gear change points and steering weight. Sport mode sharpens up everything the most, although the steering isn’t as natural feeling with the extra artificial weight. However individual settings for each mode can be customised.

Most importantly for a small family, the ride is comfortable and has very good compliance. From the city to the highway the Countryman is stable but not firm and NVH is good. It’s one of the better performing SUVs in its segment in terms of ride and handling, and matched with a strong engine there was no time that the SD felt as though it lacked refinement.

Mini claims a combined fuel-cycle consumption of 5.2L/100km and we got 6.5L/100km driving through the hills and 7.0L/100km in a variety of urban stop/start situations.

What sort of safety features does the Mini Countryman Cooper SD All4’s get?

The Mini Cooper Countryman has been awarded a 5-star ANCAP rating, as tested in 2017. Additional standard safety features the Countryman SD has are adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go function, AEB, auto high beam and speed limit warning. In testing the adaptive cruise control works very well, maintaining a constant distance and/or speed.

So, what do we think about the Mini Countryman Cooper SD All4?

The Cooper Countryman SD All4 is perhaps the best pick of all the Countryman lineup because of its balance of a perky yet frugal engine, solid all-wheel drive and great ride and handling. Compared to some rivals it’s a bit more engaging to drive and also offers proper SUV practicality.

Editor's Rating

What's the interior like?
What's the infotainment system like?
What's it like on the road?
What about safety features?
Practical Motoring Says: Somewhat surprising, this Mini is indeed a more functional SUV than many. If you appreciate its styling than there’s a lot of good car underneath to be enjoyed.

Alex Rae

Alex Rae

Alex Rae grew up among some of the great stages of Targa Tasmania, an event that sparked his passion for all things mechanical. Currently living across Bass Strait in Melbourne, Alex has worked for the last decade in the automotive world as both a photographer and journalist, and is now a freelancer for various publications. When not driving for work Alex can be found tinkering in the shed on of one his project Zeds or planning his next gravel rally car.