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What is the 2021 Mini Countryman?

The facelift for the second-generation Mini Countryman arrived in March this year with enough changes, both inside and out, to help keep it fresh. Although there’s a new John Cooper Works (JCW) Inspired variant available this time around, Mini doesn’t offer the excellent diesel engine option that was on offer earlier.

A new grille and front bumper design help the facelift look fresh.

What does the 2021 Mini Countryman look like?

As the retro-cool factor associated with Mini’s models are ever present, you’ll have to really pay attention to what’s new on the Countryman facelift’s exterior. There’s a reworked front grille and bumper, LED headlights and fog lights, Union Jack LED tail-lights (Anglophiles will love them), a tweaked rear bumper design and new 17-inch alloy wheels. The JCW Inspired variant we drove gets larger 18-inch wheels with the JCW logo that fill out the wheel wells far better and more aggressive-looking front and rear bumpers. While there are five colour options available with the 2021 Countryman, the Island Blue finish on our test car is exclusive to the JCW Inspired version.

Retro cool looks with added muscle.

Overall, the impression is that of a hot hatch that’s been given a bit of extra muscle and may not be what typical Indian SUV buyers are looking for. However, there’s no denying its niche desirability factor.

18-inch rims on the JCW Inspired look better than the 17-inch ones on the standard car.

What is the 2021 Mini Countryman like on the inside?

The cabin of the latest Countryman is roomy and the two-part sunroof only heightens the feeling of space. The front seats are definitely a highlight — they adjust for height, lumbar support, and even thigh length; there’s also ample support and side bolstering that snugly holds you in place. The rear seats can be reclined to find a suitable angle and passengers can stretch their legs out even with the front seats pulled back. However, thigh support could have been better and shoulder and hip room is ample for two, but cramped three. The 450-litre boot is nothing to write home about, but the practicality that the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats is. With the rear seats down, there’s just over 1300 litres of space.

There is a great sense of airiness in the cabin.

Quality of materials is excellent and all the aircraft-inspired switches and toggles above and on the centre console are nice to use. The Countryman JCW Inspired variant gets an 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system that wasn’t all that responsive to my fatter-than-normal fingers. On the other hand, the rotary control and buttons for the infotainment system placed under the front centre armrest were a cinch to use.

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Rotary knob and buttons for the infotainment system seem to work better than the touchscreen interface.

The interiors of the JCW Inspired version get the logo on the easy to use multi-function steering wheel and on the door sills, along with stainless steel pedal covers and a choice of grey or brown (seen here) upholstery.

450-litre boot is adequate, but can expand to 1309 litres with the rear seats folded.

What equipment does the 2021 Mini Countryman get?

Wireless charging and wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity are on offer with this higher-spec trim (giving you a hint of the clientele). What Mini calls a ‘Picnic Bench’ is also on offer — it’s essentially a fold-out cushioned seat that covers the loading lip of the boot, in case you’d like to stop somewhere and enjoy the view in relative comfort.

Quality of materials is excellent.

Although the view out of the driver’s seat is commanding enough even in its lowest setting and the head-up display adds to the overall appeal, the slightly off-centre 5.5-inch digital instrument did trigger my OCD. Two-zone climate control and a Harmon Kardon system are also on offer.

Wireless charging pad tucked away under the front centre armrest.

Safety kit is a bit on the lower side for a car in this segment. Two airbags, ABS with corner braking control, hill-start assist, traction control, an electric parking brake, rear parking sensors and a rear parking camera are standard on both variants.

The aircraft inspired switches look cool.

What is the 2021 Mini Countryman like to drive?

All of the 189 bhp and 28.55 kgm from the 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-four engine is sent to the front wheels. While this makes the Countryman the only one in its class to miss out on the option of all-wheel drive, it’s not as if the crossover makes any pretense of being an off-roading machine. The 7-speed gearbox plays spoilsport in eco and mid drive modes, and throttle responses are also dulled significantly. However, the dual-clutch unit feels lively enough in sport mode and it makes the Countryman Cooper a joy to drive. While this mode is the better choice even in the city, it does add an almost unnecessary weight to the steering, which is direct and pliant enough in either of the other two modes.

The Countryman handles with great poise, for an SUV.

Sport mode also allows the front tyres to chirp when the accelerator is mashed, which is a nice touch. Incidentally, the 0-100-kph run takes a claimed 7.5 seconds, which isn’t really in doubt.

High-speed ride quality is good, but it’s a bit harsh at city speeds.

The strong engine, its sonorous sound (for a four-pot motor), the paddle shifters, and the tightly-wound suspension do make for quite a fun drive experience. The Countryman isn’t as nimble as its hatchback sibling and there is comparatively more roll, but it’s still a formidable corner carver and the roll is well contained. The front end grips confidently and it can shoot out of bends without drama. On the flip side, ride quality isn’t the Countryman’s strong suit; it can get especially harsh at low speeds over broken patches of road.

Although occupants aren’t cocooned in silence — some road noise does seep through — the sound does somewhat match the Countryman’s sporty nature.

Hustling the Countryman Cooper S is downright enjoyable.

Should I buy the 2021 Mini Countryman?

If you’re in the market for an entry-level luxury SUV and enjoy driving, the Mini Countryman should be on your shortlist. Space, quality and equipment levels are great, and there’s fun to be had from behind the wheel, too. Factor in the niche appeal of owning something that strays from the standard SUV mould and you’ve got yourself a small luxury SUV that you’ll be happy with.

AUTODATA

Mini Countryman Cooper S JCW Inspired

POWERTRAIN
Displacement:
1998cc, inline-four, turbo-petrol
Max power: 189 bhp@5000-6000 rpm
Max torque: 28.55 kgm@1350-4500 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed DCT

TYRES
F/R: 225/50 R18

DIMENSIONS
L/W/H (mm): 4299/1822/1557
Wheelbase: 2670 mm
Ground clearance: NA
Kerb weight: NA
Fuel capacity: NA

PRICE: Rs 43.40 lakh (ex-showroom, India)