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#9

in 2012 Upscale Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $18,561 - $22,224
Original MSRP: $21,750 - $27,050
MPG: 27 City / 35 Hwy
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2012 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 isn’t as zippy as its smaller siblings, and some test drivers call it sluggish off the line, but there are reasons for this change in performance. The Cooper Countryman is larger and heavier than other Coopers but uses the same engines found in the smaller, lighter models, so its performance suffers. Still, reviewers find that the Cooper Countryman can be fun to drive and are impressed with its optional all-wheel drive system.

  • "Though it's a bit slower and less nimble, many of the Countryman's traits feel as if they were lifted unchanged from its little brother, including the hefty steering, the mechanical clack of every manual transmission gearchange, the distinctive turbo buzz of the S engine and, yes, the sometimes too-firm ride." -- Edmunds
  • "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
  • "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

Most reviewers think the Cooper Countryman’s increase in weight compared with the Mini Cooper Hardtop makes it slower than the rest of Mini’s lineup. The base Cooper Countryman 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.

While the base Cooper Countryman isn’t as refined as the Cooper Hardtop or the Cooper S Hardtop, some reviewers say it is 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 standard six-speed manual transmission and 25/30 mpg with the optional six-speed automatic.

The Cooper S Countryman nets 26/32 mpg with the manual transmission and 25/32 mpg with an automatic transmission. In comparison, the Cooper S Countryman ALL4 gets 25/31mpg with the manual transmission and 23/30 mpg with an automatic.

Keep in mind that the Countryman uses premium fuel, which means you’ll pay more at the pump than in some small cars and crossovers.

  • "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
  • "But even as we carve Austin's backcountry roads, we crave the ‘Mini-ness’ that makes the Cooper S such an entertaining ride. 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
  • "While the base engine does just fine in the lighter Cooper, it's not up to the task of briskly motivating the Countryman's 500 pounds of additional curb weight." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

Some test drivers noticed that the Mini Cooper Countryman doesn’t handle as well as the Mini Cooper Hardtop, while others think the Countryman’s larger frame doesn’t make it any less agile. In fact, several reviewers state that the Countryman is a great handler despite some understeer.

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

  • "And while the Countryman is bigger than the standard Cooper, its larger size doesn't significantly affect handling; this Mini is almost as nimble as its hatchback sibling." -- Edmunds
  • "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

All-Wheel Drive

The Countryman is the first Mini to get an all-wheel drive system called ALL4. Most test drivers like this system, and some recommend all-wheel drive for better handling. The majority of reviewers note, however, that the 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.

  • "S models with front-wheel drive exhibit some torque-steer wander, but still accelerate quickly. All-wheel-drive S models feel quickest from a stop." -- Consumer Guide
  • "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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