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#8

in 2011 Upscale Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $16,780 - $20,626
Original MSRP: $21,650 - $26,950
MPG: 27 City / 35 Hwy
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2011 MINI Cooper Countryman Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The Cooper Countryman weighs 300 pounds more than the Mini Cooper Hardtop. As a result, it isn’t as zippy has the Cooper Hardtop, or even the Cooper Clubman. Test drivers say it’s sluggish off the line and has numb steering response. There are reasons for this change in performance. The Cooper Countryman is the largest Mini Cooper model, so its performance will be different. However, when they account for an increase in size and weight, reviewers find the Cooper Countryman fun to drive.

With the Cooper Countryman offers an all-wheel drive system called ALL4. This all-wheel drive system isn’t suited for rough terrain, but test drivers think it’s quite efficient for combating slick roads. 

  • "While the driving position is perfect for the mission, the initial steering response off the straight and narrow is encouraging, and the S edition's turbo engine is steeped in spirit, there are lapses in the Countryman's driving dynamics." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "While the extra size might make this MINI appeal to more Americans, we were concerned that the Countryman wouldn't have the same fun-to-drive factor as other MINI models. Boy, were we wrong." -- MSN
  • "We've become very accustomed to the turbocharged Mini drivetrain over the past few years, and while the Countryman does feel heavier and more sluggish off the line, it's still plenty playful at speed." -- Autoblog

Acceleration and Power

Overall, test drivers are pleased with the 2011 Mini Cooper Countryman’s performance. The base model has a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 121 horsepower, while the Cooper S Countryman and Cooper S Countryman ALL4 get a 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine that makes 181 horsepower. A manual or automatic transmission is available on all trims.

While the base Cooper Countryman isn’t as refined as the Cooper Hardtop or the Cooper S Hardtop, it’s still a good performer and has good fuel economy ratings. The base model has the highest averages. According to the EPA, it gets 27/35 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission and 24/30 mpg with the automatic.

The Cooper S Countryman nets 26/32 mpg with a manual transmission and 25/32 mpg with an automatic transmission. In comparison, the Cooper Countryman with ALL4 gets 25/31 mpg with the manual transmission and 24/31 mpg with an automatic. Keep in mind that the Cooper Countryman uses premium fuel, which means you’ll pay more at the pump. 

  • "That said, the two editions powered by a normally aspirated engine should be crossed off your shopping list because the Countryman is 400 pounds heavier and a substantially larger barn door to push through the wind than a base Mini hardtop." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Turbo lag is apparent in all S models." -- Consumer Guide
  • "We actually prefer to just leave the Countryman in Sport the improved dynamics really make it feel more like a smaller Clubman, which not only makes us happy out on the road, but makes us feel better about the Countryman's size. It's far more lively than we ever expected." -- Autoblog
  • "The turbo motor isn't really zingy in the typical four-cylinder fashion. Instead, it delivers such sweet torque production that there's always thrust available even if you forget to downshift. Plus the six-speed manual feels solid and its ratios are perfectly matched to the engine's power band. The six-speed automatic isn't as sweet, but it's tolerable with the turbo engine and it includes handy paddle shifters." -- Edmunds
  • "Our biggest gripe: The Countryman doesn't sound like an S. Its turbo engine note lacks the addictive burbling, cracking, and off-throttle popping we've come to associate with the performance trim. Instead, a lackluster turbocharger whine and annoying wind drone permeate the cabin." -- Truck Trend

Handling and Braking

More than one test driver noticed that the Mini Cooper Countryman isn’t as fun to drive as the Mini Cooper Hardtop. Still, after a few drives, most reviewers state that it is a great handler despite some understeer. Few reviewers comment on the Cooper Countryman’s brakes, but those who do say they are responsive and smooth.

Reviewer complaints about understeer and less-than-crisp steering are justified, but it’s important to remember that changes in the Cooper Countryman’s handling and braking capabilities are expected because the Cooper Countryman rides higher off the ground, is larger and weighs more than the Mini Cooper Hardtop.

  • "The elevated ride height results in tippiness never before seen in a Mini. Steering feel goes numb when you are in greatest need of feedback from the road surface. The extra weight and longer wheelbase slow reaction times from the go-kart-agile realm into the merely good range." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "But with a curb weight of 3,042 pounds, the Cooper S Countryman never feels as nimble or quite as edgy as the Mini Cooper S. The Countryman's larger body and greater ride height contributes to greater levels of roll in corners. However, the inclusion of four-wheel drive ensured that grip remained strong, both in wet and dry conditions. Pushing hard induces predictable understeer that can be easily controlled via the throttle." -- AutoWeek
  • "Mini's strong suit. All Countryman variants have crisp steering; athletic handling; and strong, smooth brakes with a compliant pedal feel. Pressing the standard 'Sport' button firms up steering feel and sharpens response." -- Consumer Guide
  • "With MacPherson struts in front and a multilink system in back, the Cooper S Countryman is stable and has quick reflexes despite its ride height and relatively long wheelbase. No, it's not as instantaneous in its reactions as the smaller Minis, but it's still plenty good." -- Edmunds 
  • "The standard six-speed gearbox increases the Countryman S's sportiness, but its long throws prove cumbersome and languid at times. (This is a daily-drivable family-mover, so we can excuse some gearbox laziness.)" -- Truck Trend
  • "The steering is nicely weighted and has a crisp feel at turn-in with immediate response from the wheels. Our All4-equipped tester was actually quite engaging, the torque steer and mild amounts of understeer that we've come to expect from a normal Cooper S are gone." -- Autoblog

All-Wheel Drive

The 2011 Cooper Countryman is the first Mini to get an all-wheel drive system called ALL4. Some reviewers recommend the all-wheel drive system for better handling. The majority of reviewers note, however, that the Cooper Countryman is definitely suited for on-road driving, not clunking around on rough terrain. But if you need all-wheel drive to battle icy roads, this drivetrain handles itself well in inclement weather.

  • "As solid a product as the front-drive Cooper S Countryman is, the Cooper S Countryman ALL4 with all-wheel drive is even better." -- Edmunds
  • "As we slide the Countryman in a feeble attempt to mimic our rally racing hero Tommi Makinen, it's quickly apparent that on these rutted, rocky, dusty, dry paths the ALL4 shines." -- Truck Trend

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