Mini meets SUV in a stylish package
When the Countryman came out in 2010 it was Mini’s take on a car suitable for the whole family. Inevitably, it has some compromises. Mini wanted to keep the sharp steering and taut handling for which the Mini is known, but at the same time they wanted to balance that with a taller SUV-like appearance. The result is a car that rides rather on the firm side. And it’s a Mini, so it’s never going to have the space of a more single-minded SUV.
But despite that, it’s a stylish crossover that suits quite a few people. If you couldn’t afford a new one, then a used version can be an attractive proposition. But what should you go for, how much should you pay and what is there to look out for? Read on.
You’ll need about £11,000 if you want a top spec Cooper S with the All4 four-wheel drive. However, you can get on the ladder for about £5500 if you’re prepared for a high-miler base-spec model. For a decent example of a 1.6-litre petrol-engined model in low One trim, you’ll need to find about £6500.
Bear in mind that running costs should be reasonable since they’re fairly frugal, and tax and servicing costs should all be fairly low. This is particularly the case if you go for a front-wheel drive model – it’s worth asking yourself if you really need the weight and complexity of the All4 system. Similarly, we’d recommend a petrol engine since they’re cheaper to buy and you’ll only benefit with the diesel if you do really a lot of miles per year.
Naturally, the most expensive models are going to be the ones with Cooper S badges, but the Cooper model should suit a lot more drivers. However, people do regard a Mini as a blank canvas so expect a lot of personalisation and a possibly bewildering selection of options and optional packs.
In terms of reliability, it’s worth recalling the recall concerning the wiring harness getting moisture into it. This affected models from August 2010 to March 2013 and, since it could potentially lead to a fire, we suggest you check it’s been done.
Other than that, Countryman models seem pretty reliable. Another potential reason not to get the all-wheel drive model, though, is its propensity for eating clutches. Check on the model you’re looking at that it bites properly and at the right point.
The only other thing to look out for is a high wear rate on some of the external bits and pieces like the fake chrome and the alloys. It can all age faster than you’d imagine, so check it over carefully.
Other than that, the Countryman gets a clean bill of health if its slightly unusual mix of qualities is exactly what you’re looking for.