Car Reviews

2017 Mini Countryman Review – Australian Drive

Isaac Bober’s Australian 2017 Mini Countryman Review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.

In a nutshell: The all-new, bigger Mini Countryman now finally makes sense as a family-oriented SUV.

2017 Mini Countryman

Pricing From $39,900+ORC Warranty three years, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals Mini Service Inclusive Basic costs $1240 and covers the first 5 years scheduled services with some exceptions, Mini Service Inclusive Plus is a one-off cost with no more to pay Safety Not yet rated Engine 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol; 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol; 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel (in two tunes) Power/Torque 100kW/220Nm; 141kW/280Nm; 110kW/330Nm; 140kW/400Nm Transmission six-speed automatic; eight-speed automatic Drive front-wheel drive; ALL4 all-wheel drive Dimensions 4299mm (L); 1822mm (W); 1557mm (H) Turning Circle 11.4m (ALL4) Ground Clearance 165mm Bootspace 405 litres Spare None Fuel Tank 51 litres Thirst From 4.8-6.5L/100km depending on the variant

Editor's Rating

What's the interior like?
What's it like on the road?
What about safety features?
Practical Motoring Says: The new Mini Countryman is a more mature and relaxed proposition than the car it replaces. It offers enough dynamism to remain a true Mini but with a softish edge that will appeal to those shopping for a rugged SUV. There’s a huge amount of room in the back seat for what is still a small car, and the boot is usable at more than 400 litres and features a clever double floor. My pick is the top-spec Cooper SD ALL4 as I feel it offers the greatest breadth of capability and ride comfort.

THE NEW MINI Countryman is the car that Mini has been waiting for. And for some time, too. There’s no hiding the fact that Australia is fast transitioning to an SUV-first market and, one that focusses on compact-sized SUVs too, so having a credible fighter that’s well equipped is a must. Enter the all-new MINI Countryman.

What is it?

Available in both two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive (top-spec variant only), both petrol and diesel engines, with standard equipment levels that are impressive indeed, and a roomy back seat that feels very un-Mini (but in a good way), the new Countryman should give its premium rivals, like the recently launched Audi Q2, a very tough time of it. Sure, at its various price points, the Mini will come up against competition from the likes of the VW Tiguan, Skoda Kodiaq, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-3 and CX-5 and even the BMW X1, and more, but my gut tells me that Mini has managed to get its pricing, spec and design just right for our value-driven market.

At the local launch in Canberra this week, Mini Australia boss Tony Sesto pointed out that the new Countryman can now be the “primary vehicle in the family” (meaning because it’s bigger it could conceivably be a family’s only vehicle), and that’s not something that Mini’s ever been able to say before.

The brand already knows the Countryman has been a good seller for it, accounting for around 25% of total sales in this country. But this new car, in my opinion, is chalk and cheese to the old model. And that’s partly down to the fact it shares its platform with the BMW X1 and so allowed for more rear seat and boot space, and because Mini’s engineers considered what this car’s intended purpose is and so tuned it accordingly.

2017 Mini Countryman Review

Before the launch of the new Countryman, Mini surveyed buyers and potential buyers and all suggested that the previous Countryman just didn’t offer enough room to woo them away from other brands. And that’s the nub of why Mini is so confident the new Countryman will be able to win more buyers… it’s roomier than ever before, while retaining that unmistakable air of being a Mini.

Indeed, this second-generation Countryman is 199mm longer than its predecessor and a staggering 300mm-plus longer than a Mini five-door. It’s also 33mm wider than the old car (1822mm) and 13mm taller (1557mm) with a wheelbase that’s 75mm longer at 2670mm. These numbers alone suggest the new Countryman is an altogether roomier proposition than its predecessor.

Pricing for the Mini Countryman kicks off at $39,900+ORC for the Cooper (petrol); $43,900+ORC for the Cooper D; $46,500+ORC for the Cooper S (petrol); and $51,500+ORC for the Cooper SD ALL4.

What’s the interior like?

Ordinarily we’d start in the front and work our way back but, for me, where buyers will be won will be in the back seat, and boot of the new Countryman. First, some quick stats, because the new Countryman is longer, wider and taller, there’s 59mm more elbowroom, 50mm more shoulder room, 9mm more headroom, and an additional 50mm more legroom in the back.

MINI Countryman review by Practical Motoring

While many of my colleagues merely glanced at the back seat, or sat in the back for 30 seconds and then climbed out, I spent a good 30-odd kilometres travelling in the back of the Countryman at its launch this week. I’m as close to six-foot as its possible to get without actually being six-feet tall and I had plenty of room, and when I say plenty of room, I mean the back of this thing is properly spacious; there’s much more room in the back than in, say, an Audi Q2. More than that, the ride in the back is as good as you get in the front, and because the seats are set in a stadium-esque arrangement, meaning that back seats are set a little higher than the front seats, those in the back get a good view out of the car. You could quite easily fit three adults across the back, and because of the leg and headroom they wouldn’t feel cramped; you don’t feel like you’re travelling in a small car.

2017 Mini Countryman Review

The seats, as standard, are 40:20:40 split fold and I reckon that all back seats, in wagons, and hatches should be set like this as it makes for a more practical layout. More than that, each seat can be individually slid forwards and backwards by 130mm, while the seat back can be adjusted via a little pull strap in the seat base from -1.5 to 28.5 degrees.

Getting into and out of the back is easy with a narrow-ish but tall door opening meaning that taller back seat passengers won’t have to duck to get in or out. Kids shouldn’t have a problem climbing into the back either.

2017 Mini Countryman Review

The boot offers 405-litres of storage, but that’s with the back seat pushed forwards and the seat backs sitting upright. Still, this is 100 litres more than the old Countryman. The space itself is easy to access and you can reach all the way in without having to climb inside the thing. The boot features a double floor with a deep well beneath the floor which can be raised and then catches on little nibs to keep it in place while you’re reaching into the bin – means you don’t have to hold it up, or pull it out to access what’s underneath.

MINI Countryman review by Practical Motoring

This extra space is possible because there’s no spare wheel in the Countryman (it rides on run-flat tyres). There are four sturdy tie down points and a 12v outlet, and a raft of accessories that include a roll out picnic seat for the rear bumper and cargo nets, and more. Across the range, the tail-gate is automatic with hands-free opening; you simply stab your foot under the rear bumper with the key in your pocket and it will either open or close.

MINI Countryman review by Practical Motoring

Climb into the front and it all feels very Mini, as you would expect. The dashboard is dominated by a rectangular infotainment unit set into a large circle, as a nod to the old Mini speedo. Depending on the variant you’ll either have a 6.5-inch unit (non-touchscreen) and controlled via a controller down on the centre console, or an 8.0-inch unit that’s both touch-sensitive and able to be controlled via a controller. This latter system offers a lot more functionality, but even the base unit has all the features most people will ever need, including sat-nav. There’s no Apple Car Play or Android Auto connectivity.

Being a Mini there are seemingly a gazillion different interior trim options, but suffice it to say there’s soft touch plastic everywhere and the fit and finish is of a high quality. All the dials are easy to use and the digital multi-function display in the speedo offers access to plenty of information on the one screen that’s easy to read.

2017 Mini Countryman Review

The steering wheel feels good in the hands and there’s enough adjustment (reach and height) to get comfortable behind the wheel. Seat adjustment is manual only and while some might grumble about that, I don’t think it’s an issue. Do you?

The seats, even in base cloth trim are comfortable and supportive and should suit drivers of all shapes and sizes. It’s worth noting that the seat is mounted 9cm higher in the Countryman than it is in the Mini Clubman. This, combined with the 165mm ride height, gives you that sought-after SUV driving position.

Vision right around the vehicle is good, and with a reversing camera as standard (something the old Countryman couldn’t offer) reversing into tight spots, or just being able to see anything’s behind the car is a cinch.

What’s it like on the road?

This is where things, again, take yet another turn in the tale of the new Mini Countryman. It’s bigger than the old car, and so instantly more practical, but it’s how it drives that cements this car’s transformation into something more mature and practical as a family SUV.

The old Countryman tried too hard to be like a Mini hatchback and so offered darty steering and stiff-legged suspension, and that meant you tended to bounce around on rougher roads with the most atrocious bump steer thrown in for good measure. To be honest, it was horrible. Not so, this new one.

The launch roads took in short sections of highway but were mostly twisty, bumpy back country roads with a little bit of dirt thrown in for good measure. Typical of the sort of roads the average punter might encounter in Australia, and the Countryman ate them up.

Gone is the stiff-legged ride, replaced with something that’s a little more forgiving, allowing a little more body roll and bump absorption in corners –personally, I thought the Cooper SD ALL4 felt the most settled and comfortable of all the variants but there’s only a hair or two between them all. Despite this softer set-up, the Countryman never ends up feeling doughy, just well controlled and forgiving with just enough Mini car-driver communication to keep you reminded of what you’re driving, and that’s exactly what you want from a high-riding family car.

And the same goes for the steering which is well weighted and communicative and quick too but without being too quick (or darty). Is as if the steering has been turned down from Mini’s usual 11 to about 9, and that makes for a more relaxing drive across rubbish back roads.

2017 Mini Countryman Review

Under the snub-nosed bonnet with its cool-looking power dome are a variety of engines, starting with a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine 100kW and 220Nm of torque which sucks down 6.0L/100km. Next in the line is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine making 110kW and 330Nm, it drinks 4.8L/100km. The Cooper S variant runs a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder making 141kW and 280Nm and drinking 6.5L/100km, while the Cooper SD runs a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder making 140kW and 400Nm of torque and drinking 5.2L/100km.

I got to spend short-ish stints in all engine variants and as sweet as the entry-level turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine is, my pick is the grunty diesel engine in the Cooper SD ALL4. All engines but the entry-level Cooper get an eight-speed automatic which is nice and smooth and able to get the most out of all three output ranges; the six-speed auto in the Cooper is well suited to that car and does a good job of making it feel gruntier than its paper numbers suggest.

2017 Mini Countryman Review

In the old Countryman there were two all-wheel drive variants available, both petrol and diesel, but few buyers picked the petrol version and so all-wheel drive is available only in the top-spec Cooper SD variant. Similar to the all-wheel drive system in both the Audi Q2 quattro and the Toyoa C-HR AWD the Countryman behaves as a front-wheel drive when cruising at a constant speed with no steering input, for instance, when you’re driving on a highway. Once you add some steering input, or the stability control system is activated, drive is sent to the rear wheels via a propeller shaft with what Mini calls a ‘hang on’ clutch that helps to apportion the drive to the rear axle as needed.

2017 Mini Countryman Review

Because drive is sent to the rear before slip is detected, Mini, and indeed Audi and Toyota, like to refer to their systems as proactive all-wheel drive, rather reactive all-wheel drive, like many of the other on-demand systems. Cleverly, the Mini ALL4 system, depending on the surface, can send 100% of drive to the rear axle. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to drive the Cooper SD ALL4 on dirt, but on bitumen it did feel keener to turn in and more stable across broken surfaces than the front-drive only variants.

Mini controls have always been about immediacy of action, but the brake pedal is not always something you want to behave like a light switch. Thankfully, the Countryman’s brakes offer good pedal feel and decent progression meaning you can apply the brakes without having your passenger head butt the dashboard.

What about safety features?

The Mini Countryman still hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP but it’s available, as standard on all models, with airbags covering the front and rear, traction and stability controls, all-wheel drive on the Cooper SD ALL4 only, run-flat tyres, active cruise control with stop and go which works from 0-140km/h, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, front and rear parking sensors and reversing camera with guidance lines, speed limiter and speed sign recognition.

Why would you buy one?

The new Mini Countryman retains that typical Mini look and feel with the added benefits of being bigger than before and better equipped with a standard safety package that’s one of the best on a car costing less than $80k. But the main reason you’d buy one is simply because you want a Mini but need more room.

Against some of its key competitors, the Mini is fun to drive, sure-footed across all variants, roomy and comfortable with the quality you expect from a premium brand. As someone with a family, I’ve always liked the idea of a Mini, but they’ve never been practical, but this new one is.

Sure, you could get cars that cost less that are just as roomy from non-premium brands, but they wouldn’t be a Mini. Will go into greater detail on its dirt-road ability when we’ve had a chance to get into the Practical Motoring garage.

2017 Mini Countryman Review

2017 Mini Countryman key features:

Mini Cooper Countryman

  • Key specification over predecessor model:
  • Six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission
  • Reversing Camera
  • Front park distance control
  • Park assist
  • Comfort access
  • Active Cruise Control with ‘Stop & Go’ function, operable between 0-140km/h
  • Driver Assistant Package (includes Forward Collision Warning, City Collision
  • Mitigation (AEB), High Beam Assistant and Speed Limit Info)
  • DAB+ digital radio
  • 18-inch light alloy wheels with run-flat tyres
  • Automatic tailgate operation
  • MINI logo projection

Mini Cooper D Countryman – Key specification over predecessor model:

  • Eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission
  • Reversing Camera
  • Front park distance control
  • Park assist
  • Comfort access
  • Active Cruise Control with ‘Stop & Go’ function, operable between 0-140km/h
  • Driver Assistant Package (includes Forward Collision Warning, City Collision Mitigation (AEB), High Beam Assistant and Speed Limit Info)
  • DAB+ digital radio
  • 18-inch light alloy wheels with run-flat tyres
  • Automatic tailgate operation
  • MINI logo projection

Mini Cooper S Countryman – Key specification over predecessor model:

  • Eight-speed Steptronic sports automatic transmission
  • MINI Driving Modes
  • Reversing camera
  • Front park distance control
  • Park assist
  • Comfort Access
  • Active Cruise Control with ‘Stop & Go’ function, operable between 0-140km/h
  • Driver Assistant Package (includes Forward Collision Warning, City Collision Mitigation (AEB), High Beam Assistant and Speed Limit Info)
  • DAB+ digital radio
  • Rear armrest with cupholders
  • LED headlights with cornering function
  • Automatic tailgate operation
  • MINI logo projection

Mini Cooper SD ALL4 Countryman – Key specification over predecessor model:

  • Eight-speed Steptronic sports automatic transmission
  • MINI Driving Modes
  • Reversing camera
  • Front park distance control
  • Park assist
  • Comfort Access
  • Active Cruise Control with ‘Stop & Go’ function, operable between 0-140km/h
  • Driver Assistant Package (includes Forward Collision Warning, City Collision Mitigation (AEB), High Beam Assistant and Speed Limit Info)
  • DAB+ digital radio
  • Rear armrest with cup holders
  • LED headlights with cornering function
  • Automatic tailgate operation
  • MINI logo projection

There is a raft of cost-optional packages for the Mini Countryman, including:

Chili package – $1500 for Cooper and Cooper D

  • LED headlights with LED daytime running lights
  • LED foglights
  • Adaptive cornering lights
  • Driving modes

John Cooper Works Chili package – $4900 for Cooper and Cooper D, $3600 for Cooper S and Cooper SD All4

  • JCW aerodynamics package with modified front and rear aprons and rear spoiler
  • Roof rails and side sills in Piano Black or Satin Silver
  • 18-inch John Cooper Works ‘Thrill Spoke’ light-alloy wheels
  • MINI Driving Modes and Performance Control (Cooper/Cooper D)
  • Choice of Dynamic Damper Control or Sports Suspension
  • Leather Cross Punch upholstery in Carbon Black
  • John Cooper Works leather steering wheel (Cooper/Cooper D)
  • John Cooper Works gear shift lever
  • John Cooper Works door sill finishers
  • Anthracite roof lining

Road Trip package – $750 for Cooper and Cooper D, $500 for Cooper S and Cooper SD

  • Picnic bench rear seat
  • Rear-seat armrest (Cooper/Cooper D)
  • Luggage compartment separating net
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system

Multimedia Pro package – $2400

  • Professional navigation with 8.8-inch touchscreen, voice recognition and 3D mapping
  • 12-speaker harman/kardon Hi-Fi system
  • Head Up Display

Convenience package – $2150

  • Electric front seats with memory function and electrically-adjustable lumbar support
  • Alarm with illumination of roof-mounted aerial fin when armed
  • Interior and exterior mirror package

Climate package – $2400

  • Panoramic electric glass sunroof
  • Sun protection glazing
  • Heated seats for driver and front passenger


  • JohnGC

    A good review Isaac. Too many people get hung up on the name “Mini” and then criticise the car for not being true to the heritage. But you’ve judged it on its merit and it seems to stack up pretty well. Not sure the buying public will think of this car when considering a small suburban SUV with good space, so it will be interesting to see how it goes.

    • Thanks @JohnGC. I do hope buyers consider the Countryman, they’ll be surprised by just how much room there is in the backseat. And even a base model car gets a good amount of kit and all of the safety gear that the top-spec model gets too. Cheers Isaac.

  • Richard

    Just started using Practical Motoring as additional resource for car Reviews. A very good thorough and objective review. Nice to see a smaller family hauler actually ride, handle and give some feedback to the driver. It actually ticks the boxes for interior space and load capacity which others in this class struggle to match. Is it a SUV? By definition probably. But to the vast demographic who buy these SUVs the big attraction is ride height and the perceived safety that it brings them. A missing element in the Mini. So will it slot into an easy alternative SUV to consider.? Maybe it will still be seen as a very good more practical bigger Mini.

    • You’re right, Richard, it’s more of a Sports Activity Vehicle, if that makes any sense… – Isaac

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober was born in the shadow of Mount Panorama in Bathurst and, so, it was inevitable he’d fall into work as a motoring writer. He began his motoring career in 2000 reviewing commercial vehicles, before becoming editor of Caravan & Motorhome magazine. He then moved to MOTOR Magazine before going freelance and contributing to Overlander 4WD, 4×4 Australia, TopGear Australia, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, The Australian, CARSguide, and many more.