2011 MINI Countryman proves to be fun to drive and seriously cool

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 11, 2011

Purists don’t like that the 2011 Mini Countryman is a supersized Mini or that it is named as such. But even if this new four-door is relatively bigger, it has actually remained true to its overall dimensions. BMW AG owns the Mini family, which includes the different Cooper models, the larger Clubman and the all-new Countryman (which is also known as Mini's SUV).

The base Countryman has a starting price of 20,200 euros while the all-wheel-drive S model is priced at 27,900 euros.

BMW Group's biggest market is the U.S., which has never lost its love for big cars. This means that BMW has every reason to expand a Mini. The Countryman, which has a length of 4095mm (13.48 feet), is shorter than a Ford Mondeo that measures 4785mm.

It’s also shorter than a BMW X3 that’s 4650mm. Beside the Smart ForTwo that measures 2695mm, the Countryman is longer; however sales of the ForTwo aren’t very desirable. Notably, the original Mark I Mini, with a length of about 3048mm, was released in 1959.

When three Cooper S were featured in the movie, "The Italian Job," in 1969, the model gained an iconic status. In 2001, BMW presented the "new" Mini Cooper, which is about 3658mm. It again showed off its status with an appearance at the updated “Italian Job."

As it is, the new MINI Countryman is a result of careful adherence to the classic principle of creating optimal interior space and functionality on a compact footprint while injecting innovations in a small car with characteristic MINI proportions. While the new Countryman is the first MINI that measures over four meters (157 inches) in length, it is easily recognizable as part of the MINI family thanks to its hallmark design features at the front, side and rear.

Being named the Countryman refers to the brand’s historic roots and British origins. Just like the MINI Clubman, the new MINI Countryman was inspired by a predecessor derived from a small car concept created by Alec Issigonis. As early as 1960, a variant of the classic Mini with the Countryman name was made available to the market – the Austin Seven Countryman and the technical twin Morris Mini Traveller.

This variant was sold until 1969, offering a larger interior for a more functional trip and was known for its wooden frame trim on the body flanks and rear doors. MINI plans to assemble the new MINI Countryman at the Graz, Austria facility of Magna Steyr Fahrzeugtechnik, a BMW Group partner. It will use a separate assembly line set up and operated according to BMW Group’s standards. Its petrol engines will be produced by the Hams Hall engine plant while its newly developed diesel powerplants will be built at the BMW Group's Steyr engine plant in Austria.

Being the first premium model of its kind, the MINI Countryman breaks new ground in a number of aspects. Basically, the MINI Countryman – with its classic MINI features – boasts of the so-called a.k.a. "go-kart" feeling that makes MINI vehicles always fun to drive.

This attribute, as well as the premium quality typical of vehicles from the BMW Group, allows the new MINI Countryman to open up a new kind of experience to new target groups. Moreover, by expanding its model family with the new Countryman, MINI could offer a new variety of small car that would appeal to a new target market. In a strong sense, launching the new MINI Countryman allows the carmaker to starkly demonstrate its capability to cater to the growing demand of its customers and fan base while still staying true to its identity.

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