Double take on latest Mini Countryman

MINI Malaysia is certainly going big on its range of Countryman, with two locally assembled options to pander local enthusiasts – Cooper S and Cooper SE – to kick off the Ox Year. It’s pretty obvious that the longer MINI Countryman and its inherently more spacious interior has found favour with Malaysian ‘MINIacs’. And giving them a model choice adds to the fun of acquiring one.

This follows on from the first MINI Countryman CKD model introduced in 2018, which at that time was a big step forward or in the words of Harald Hoelzl, managing director of BMW Group Malaysia, ‘a significant milestone for us, as Malaysia became the first market in the world outside the Netherlands to locally assemble the best-selling MINI vehicle’.

The Countryman’s popularity stems from the fact that it ‘serves as the biggest and most versatile member of the MINI family. As the first model with an exterior length of more than four metres, four doors, a large tailgate, five seats and all-wheel drive, the MINI Countryman laid the foundations for the brand’s highly successful advance into the premium compact segment. The new Countryman sees significant optimisation in space, versatility, functionality and ride comfort, with its progressive character reflected in a model variant with a plug-in hybrid drive’.

Now that we have summed up what the new Countryman is all about in MINI’s words, we would dwell into some of the specifics. Both the latest Countryman models feature the MINI ALL4 Exterior Optic; fanciful words that mainly refer to differentiated front and rear bumpers with decorative elements and sump guard in aluminium matt to provide a rugged look.

Visual supplements come in the auto LED (light emitting diode) headlamps with cornering illumination, bonnet stripes, roof rails and side sills. At the rear, the rear lamp combination represents an abstract interpretation of the Union Jack with a ‘more block-designed triangular surface’ to provide stronger lighting. MINI says a special detail here is ‘the dark tinted cover glasses that lends a distinguishing mark to the light sources, day and night’. The Cooper S Countryman has 19-inch MINI Turnstile Spoke with runflat tyres while the Cooper SE variant is fitted with 19-inch MINI Yours British Spoke, also with runflats.

In body colour, both model variants feature the Piano Black Exterior Optic with the headlamp surrounds, rear lamps, radiator grille and side scuttles finished in high-gloss black instead of chrome, likewise the door handles and model name on the tailgate, for a striking effect. Standard convenience items are the automatic tailgate operation and Picnic Bench that would be useful during breaks on long drives.

Inside, more fanciful words come in the MINI Yours Illuminated cockpit that is finished in Shaded Silver and ‘amplified’ with Satellite Grey headliner and Leather Cross Punch in Carbon Black. Both also come with the MINI Yours Walknappa leather steering wheel, which is a first for the Cooper S Countryman. A signature Union Jack insignia is featured at the bottom of the steering wheel.

For the first time, these new MINI models come with a 5-inch digital instrument cluster that is located behind the steering wheel and an updated 8.8-inch touchscreen display with navigation that’s centrally located on the dashboard as per norm. The camera-based Driving Assistant system is standard to both, serving to warn the driver of a host of external events from city to highways for safer driving.

It is in the power units that these Cooper Countryman models assume their respective and individual status. The Cooper S draws its oomph from a 2.0-litre (1998cc) MINI TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder engine that delivers 141kW (192hp) and 280Nm. Paired with a seven-speed Dual Clutch Sports automatic transmission, the Cooper S dashes from standstill to 100lm/h in 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 226km/h. Combined fuel consumption is given as 6.7 l/100km (14.9km/l).

The seven-speed Dual Clutch Sports automatic transmission is said to achieve extremely fast gearchanges with a ‘high degree of shift control and optimised efficiency’. One of the advantages is in reducing fuel consumption when stopping at junctions. There is also a coasting function in MID and GREEN driving modes that allow the car to roll at idling speed, free of engine braking and with minimum fuel consumption.

The Cooper SE Countryman is the more advanced model with its plug-in hybrid status. The engine is a 1.5-litre (1499cc) three-cylinder MINI TwinPower Turbo engine with an electric motor. It produces a combined output of 164.7kW (224hp) and 385Nm (electric motor 65kW and 165Nm). The transmission is a six-speed automatic and the Cooper SE accelerates faster to 100km/h in 6.8 seconds. Top speed is expectedly lower (because of the smaller displacement engine) at 194km/h.

The electric system features the latest eDrive technology with three modes; it includes a high-voltage lithium battery with a gross energy content of 10kWh, providing this new plug-in hybrid a maximum electrically powered range of 48 kilometres. Additionally, the ALL4 all-wheel drive system is said to provide a noticeable boost in traction, driving stability and agility. With its fast and precise electronic control, the system ensures need-based power distribution between front and rear wheels in all road surface and weather conditions.

Connectivity is the trend these days and these new MINI Countryman models won’t disappoint. One could connect the iPhone wirelessly to the car, wireless charging is available and a built-in 4G SIM card is permanently fitted to these Countryman to enable digital services such as Intelligent Emergency Call, MINI TeleServices and Remote Services.

MINI says owners of the Cooper SE Countryman could also enjoy the eDrive Services on their MINI Connected App, which provides information such as current battery status, electric range, charge timer, personal efficiency status data, the nearest charging station and pre-conditioning at their fingertips.

These new Countryman models are available in Chili Red, White Silver, Island Blue, Thunder Grey, British Racing Green and ‘for the first-time ever’, Sage Green. Their respective prices with sales tax exemption and ‘Four Years MINI Service and Repair Inclusive Package’ and on the road without insurance are; Cooper S RM244,265.76 and Cooper SE RM254,461.84. – LPS