At the Geneva Motor Show Mini will introduce its first all-wheel drive SUV crossover, the Mini Countryman, in hopes of driving new customers to its dealership worldwide who have been seeing a downturn in sales of late.
As the first model in the MINI range with four doors and a wide-opening rear lid, the MINI Countryman provides even greater freedom of space for truly versatile use, a slightly elevated seating position, and optimized driving comfort. Full integration of the passengers within the vehicle creates that driving experience so typical of MINI. The MINI Countryman maintains that go-kart feeling likewise so characteristic of MINI, and optional ALL4 all-wheel-drive offers an additional highlight for motoring enthusiasts.
The MINI Countryman carries on unique Mini design characteristics, while combining new larger body dimensions, greater ground clearance and four doors. It also features short overhangs, a high window line, and windows extending around the entire car create those unique proportions so typical of a MINI. At the same time, the MINI Countryman re-interprets the characteristic icons of a MINI such as the roofline, the hexagonal radiator grille element, the large headlights integrated in the engine lid with integrated side direction indicators, the prominent wheel arches and the upright rear light clusters.
Measuring 161.3 inches in length, with a wheelbase of 102.2 inches, the four-door body of the Mini Countryman combines the proportions typical of the brand with extra ground clearance and an elevated seating position.
Within the interior, the slightly elevated seating position is designed to provide comfort and optimizes the driver’s all-round view. The Central Display and air vents are highlighted by colored rings. The most unique interior feature is its innovative Center Rail system, which extends from the front to the rear replacing a conventional center console. It opens up new, individual options for integrating all kinds of storage boxes, cupholders, external audio devices, mobile telephones and other comfort features. It offers flexible clip-in elements enabling the driver and passengers to subdivide the storage boxes individually as required, keeping travel utensils within easy reach, wherever they are required. At the same time the Center Rail forms an unconventional, visual and functional connection between the front seats and the rear passenger compartment.
The MINI Countryman offers generous legroom, headroom and shoulder freedom. The rear seats move fore-and-aft either individually and the backrests may be tilted for angle, increasing capacity in the luggage compartment from liters 12.2 –41.0 cu ft.
The MINI Countryman comes with supportive bucket seats specific to this particular model. Sports seats are featured as standard on the MINI Cooper S Countryman (optional on the Cooper) and offer two different combinations of cloth/leather seating as well as various choices of all-leather upholstery as an option. A particular highlight is the top-of-the-line Lounge Leather upholstery that is reminiscent of classy leather seats with piping in a classic British car.
The rear bucket seats featured at the rear move fore-and-aft 5.1inches independently of one another. Even with the seats in their upright position, the MINI Countryman is able to meet additional transport requirements as the rear seat backrests may be moved to a cargo position increasing luggage space from 12.2–15.4 cubic feet. With the rear seats folded down, cargo capacity increases to a commodious 41.0 cubic feet, enough for two mountain bikes with their front wheels removed. And for those that need more options to carry their adventure items, a standard low-profile roof rail system allows owners the ability to add a full line of MINI Accessory.
The MINI Countryman is entering the US market with a choice of two engines, each coming in the new generation of power units that comply with ULEV II emission standards. The rev-happy 1.6-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine in the Cooper offers fuel efficiency and performance with fully variable valve timing and lift via VALVETRONIC technology. The Cooper S adds a twin-scroll turbocharger and direct fuel injection. It also features fully-variable valve management offering the best balance of engine power and fuel consumption in its class. And as an alternative to the standard six-speed manual gearbox, both Cooper and Cooper S models are also available with a six-speed automatic transmission complete with manual control.
All engines featured in the MINI Countryman come with fully variable valve management. This technology for determining engine load without requiring a throttle to control engine output is quite unique within the segment of this new MINI and is based on the VALVETRONIC valve management system featured in BMW power units. This optimizes engine response and serves to significantly reduce both fuel consumption and emissions.
Valve management adjusts the lift and duration of the intake valves within fractions of a second to the respective level of power required. The intake camshaft acts on the valves through an additional intermediate lever, and not directly through the follower arm. The rotating point of this additional lever is adjusted infinitely by an eccentric shaft controlled by an electric motor.
The MINI Cooper S Countryman is the first MINI to offer a permanent all-wheel-drive system known as MINI ALL4. Utilizing an electro-hydraulic differential, positioned directly on the transmission’s final drive, varies the power distribution from front to rear in an infinitely-variable process. Under normal driving conditions, up to 50 percent of the engine’s power goes to the rear wheels and under extreme conditions up to 100 percent, offering a new, high-traction rendition of the agile handling so typical of MINI. This superior traction and drivetrain technology is based on the top-end suspension of the MINI including features such as the front axle with MacPherson spring struts and forged lower control arms, the multi-link rear axle and EPS (Electric Power Steering.)
On the Cooper S Countryman with ALL4, a specific driveline setup is used. Together with the elaborate mounting for the final drive and individual driveshafts, a vibration damper is fitted is within the rear driveshaft giving the ALL4 version of the MINI Countryman the same high standard of acoustic and dynamic comfort as on the models with front-wheel drive.
Options and special equipment include such features such as high-end audio and navigation systems as well as mobile telephone interfaces including the option to completely integrate an Apple iPhone® and other smartphones in the car. Further options are the dual-pane Panoramic sunroof, Adaptive Headlights in combination with the optional Xenon headlight units, lightweight-alloy wheels ranging in size from 17 to 18 inches, sports suspension (which lowers the car by 10 millimeters or almost 0.4″), as well as the wide range of John Cooper Works Performance Components.
The MINI Countryman is available with a choice of at least eleven body colors: five non-metallic, and six metallic. All models are available with the roof finished either in Black, White or as an alternative, body color.
As the fourth model within the MINI range and the first premium car of its kind, the MINI Countryman is a pioneer in many respects. It opens up that characteristic MINI feeling for new target groups and at the same time transfers individual design and the unique fun of motoring into a segment with greater demands in terms of space available, diversity and motoring comfort, thus opening up new perspectives for the MINI brand as a whole.