2020 Mini Countryman

By May 4, 2020

The 2020 Mini Countryman takes the charm and chutzpah of the brand to a new dimension. The Countryman is still just a small crossover, but it’s the biggest vehicle yet from the brand. It’s the grown-up Mini for fun-loving grown-ups who need more practicality than the tiny Cooper Hardtop can offer.

Headlining the changes for 2020 is the arrival of a new 301-horse turbo-4 for the John Cooper Works model. Other changes are smaller, such as a subtle bump in range for the plug-in hybrid S E Countryman.

Like the rest of the Mini model range, the base Countrymans get their power from a 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder that makes 134 horsepower. Uplevel S models get a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that brings power up to 189 horsepower. Both models use a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is optional.

Stepping into the John Cooper Works buys a new 301-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4. It pairs to an 8-speed automatic and mandatory all-wheel drive. It’s the hottest Countryman available.

For maximum efficiency, there’s the plug-in hybrid S E Countryman. It has 16 miles of all-electric range and nets 27 mpg combined when the gas motor is in operation.

That’s not enough to outdo the 3-cylinder, which manages 26 mpg city, 33 highway, 29 combined. Adding all-wheel drive to this powertrain drops figures to 24/33/27 mpg. The 189-hp S engine returns 24/33/28 mpg.

The NHTSA hasn’t yet tested the Countryman for crashworthiness, but the IIHS has rated it “Good” in all their categories save headlights.

For 2020, the Countryman gets active safety features like automatic emergency braking as standard. Other features like parking assist, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control remain optional.

The NHTSA hasn’t yet tested the Countryman for crashworthiness, but the IIHS has rated it “Good” in all their categories save headlights.

Model Overview

All prices include an $850 delivery charge.

The base Classic includes a 6.5-inch infotainment display, a dual-panel sunroof, and synthetic leather upholstery. Prices range from $29,750 for a base Countryman Classic to $40,750 for a JCW Classic.

The Signature trim adds 18-inch wheels, parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, heated seats, and a 6.5-inch touchscreen. Prices range from $32,250 for a base Countryman Signature to $43,250 for a JCW Signature.

The top-tier Iconic trim includes navigation with Apple CarPlay, leather, and 19-inch wheels. Prices range from $37,750 for a base Countryman Iconic to $49,250 for a JCW Iconic.

Exterior

Mini has defined themselves by their retro styling, but that’s left them in a bit of a paradox—how does the brand grow when its existence is so pinned on a particular model? They’ve answered that question with the Countryman’s approach, which takes all that people love about the original Cooper Hardtop and sizes it up.

The result is a small crossover with a flat hood, upright windshield, and rounded-off (but not circular) headlights. Those traits decorate a squarish body that rides upon a chassis with a planted look and wide stance. It’s a look that emphasizes the Mini’s penchant for handling rather than any off-road aptitude.

Interior

Anyone who’s spent time in the Cooper Hardtop will feel at home in the Countryman. The centerpiece of the dashboard is the circular housing that contains the infotainment display. Below that are the climate controls and some toggle switches. In line with other current and vintage Minis, the dashboard is styled to be symmetrical.

Material quality is high, which isn’t surprising considering that Mini is wholly owned by BMW. There’s not much in here that looks or feels cheap.

The aforementioned infotainment display is a 6.5-inch unit and is only touch-enabled on the Signature and Iconic; Classic sub-trims must make do with non-haptic display. Apple CarPlay is also not standard on Classic and Signature trims and must be purchased as part of the $1,700 Touchscreen Navigation Package. An 8.8-inch touchscreen with navigation is also optional.

As the biggest Mini extant, the Countryman is fairly roomy, with 37.6 inches of rear-seat leg room. That’s not out of place for the small-crossover class, and outdoes some similarly sized competitors, including the related BMW X1.

Cargo space is also decent, with 17.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 47.6 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded down.

Driving Impressions

Though there’s a variety of different engines on tap, each Countryman shares the same zippy handling and fun-to-drive spirit that is common throughout the entire Mini lineup.

That said, base models with the 3-cylinder turbo engine are still slow—unlike the lightweight Cooper Hardtop, the 3,600-pound Countryman is a bit of a welterweight among Minis. The 134 horsepower generated by the 3-cylinder is far more at home in that Cooper than it is here in the Countryman.

That leaves the 189-hp turbo-4 in the S as the much better choice. The extra cylinder, additional torque, and 55 more horses turns the driving experience from frustrating to fun. It’s by far the best engine for most buyers.

The 301-hp turbo-4 in the JCW is a hoot, but getting it requires shelling out over $40,000.

A plug-in hybrid is also available. It works seamlessly, but its 27 mpg combined rating is no better than what’s put up by the 3-cylinder and turbo-4.

In all engines, an 8-speed automatic handles shifting duties. It is a competent and composed gearbox, and plays well with all driving types.

Base models ride the best, as they get the softest suspension tuning and smallest wheels. The S models are also adept at quelling bumps and road imperfects, but are slightly stiffer. Stiffest of them all is the JCW, yet it’s still comfortable enough to be driven daily.

Final Word

The 2020 Mini Countryman is the perfect choice for buyers seeking all the style and handling chops of the Mini Hardtop but with more cargo and passenger space. It’s a funky option in a class full of unexciting choices, and is uniquely appealing despite the questionable value proposition. We’d get a Countryman S in Signature trim for the best balance of power, fun, features, and price.

 

—by Anthony Sophinos, with driving impressions from The Car Connection

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