Reworked Countryman is most versatile Mini ever

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Is the new Countryman really Mini? In name, yes, but the 2017 Countryman is the biggest and most versatile model in the brand’s 57-year history.

When compared to its predecessor, the all-new 2017 Mini Countryman is 7.8 inches longer and about one inch wider, and its wheelbase has grown by 2.9 inches. The emphasis is on passenger comfort, with larger proportions, more comfortable seating, improved versatility and a long list of standard and available amenities.

Countryman sits noticeably higher than its siblings, providing its drivers with a better view of the road ahead. Classic exterior styling makes it instantly recognizable as a Mini-branded vehicle.

Countryman’s interior styling is also true to its heritage, but it now provides more space for passengers and cargo. Countryman’s standard 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats slide fore and aft 5 inches, and they can be reclined or folded flat to increase cargo carrying capacity from 17.6 cubic feet to 47.6 cubic feet.

Countryman provides seating for five adults, and there is plenty of head and leg room for front and rear passengers. Standard features include a panoramic sunroof, leatherette upholstery, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, 6.5-inch color display, six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth for phone and audio streaming, rear-view camera with guide lines, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers and more.

Options include an 8.8-inch touch screen with navigation, 12-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system, front parking sensors, Parking Assistant for easy parallel parking, adaptive cruise control, collision warning, head-up display, a foldable Picnic Cushion that transforms the rear bumper into a cushioned seat for two, power tailgate and more. Countryman buyers can also choose high-end Chesterfield leather upholstery.

Countryman trim levels include an all-new plug-in hybrid version (Cooper S E ALL4, the first hybrid model from Mini) that is capable of traveling up to 24 miles in electric mode.

Non-hybrid Countryman models include Cooper ($26,600), Cooper S ($31,200) and John Cooper Works ALL4 ($37,800). ALL4, which is Mini’s all-wheel drive system, has been revised for 2017, and it is available for Cooper and Cooper S trims.

Cooper and Cooper ALL4 models are powered by a 134-horsepower, 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine. Cooper models utilize either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, while Cooper ALL4 models feature either an eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual. These models take a few ticks over 9.3 and 9.5 seconds to go from 0-60 mph.

Cooper S and Cooper S ALL4 models rely on a stronger 189-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to either an eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual. These models take 7.2 and 7 seconds to go from 0-60 mph.

Countryman buyers wanting more power can step up to the John Cooper Works ALL4 trim. It features a 228-horsepower version of the 2.0-liter turbo-four. The JCW ALL4 goes 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds.

These advanced turbocharged engines do require premium unleaded fuel.

If you are looking for a fun-to-drive premium compact with plenty of personality, a comfortable and versatile cabin and loads of standard and available amenities, Countryman has it covered very well.