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2021 MINI Cooper Countryman Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.1/10

The 2021 Mini Countryman has an uninspiring base engine, but the available powertrains provide eager acceleration, and few other small crossovers handle as well as this Mini. On the other hand, the brakes are a little touchy, and the ride is too firm for some folks. Fuel economy is typical for the class.

  • "True to Mini's sporting intentions, steering effort is a little heavier than in competitors. The car responds reasonably quickly, but directional changes are more immediate in Sport mode. It's stable at highway speeds, and you don't need to make corrections to keep the car tracking straight." -- Edmunds (2019)
  • "Even with its added size and ground clearance, the Countryman delivers all the go-kart-like moves expected of a car wearing the Mini badge. … In the S model, we found a nicely composed vehicle with strong acceleration, a rather stiff ride and, when fitted with all-wheel drive, the sure-footedness of a mountain goat wearing cleats." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • "It might be the biggest Mini of them all, almost an inch longer overall than the UKL2-based Clubman that launched last year, but the Countryman is still a small SUV. And it drives like one, too. The Cooper S ALL4 Countryman automatic we sampled on the launch program in the U.K. zipped along narrow British country lanes like a tall hot hatch, especially with the transmission in Sport or Manual modes to make the most of the 2.0-liter engine's 207 lb-ft of torque from 1,250 rpm. The ALL4 system delivered welcome grip in icy corners, and the meaty steering allowed the big Mini to be accurately placed between the hedgerows." -- Motor Trend (2017)

Engine Options, Horsepower, and Acceleration

  • Base engine: turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder with 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque (base)
  • Available powertrains:
    • turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 189 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque (Cooper S)
    • turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 301 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque (John Cooper Works)
    • turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine and an electric motor with a combined 221 horsepower (S E Countryman)
  • Drivetrain: standard front-wheel drive; available all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: six-, seven-, or eight-speed automatic, depending on trim and drivetrain

The base engine feels underpowered, and it delivers unimpressive acceleration. The 189-horsepower turbo-four powering Cooper S models is much more energetic, and it makes the Countryman pleasantly quick off the line. The John Cooper Works model is the real star of the lineup, however, and it's more potent than the other models. Don't sleep on the plug-in hybrid either: It, too, is responsive and quick when you put your foot down.

  • "Beyond that, acceleration will depend on which engine you choose. The base Countryman with its 3-cylinder engine isn’t very fast. Though turbocharged, its output is just 134 horsepower. That translates to 0-60 mph times of 9.3 seconds for front-wheel drive and 9.6-seconds for all-wheel drive. That is slow by today’s standards. A far better experience is had in the Cooper S Countryman. Its turbocharged 4-cylinder pumps out 189 hp and grants 0-60 mph times in as little as 7 seconds flat – more appropriate for a Mini. The rocket in this Mini’s stable is the John Cooper Works. Though pricey, it’s also a hoot to drive. This hot-rodded Countryman has 301 hp, standard AWD, and a 0-60 mph of just 4.9 seconds." -- Autotrader
  • "… The base engine is a 134-hp turbocharged three-cylinder that simply lacks the power to move the Countryman's 3,300-plus pounds with any authority. The Cooper S model is equipped with a more powerful 189-hp turbocharged four-cylinder. The plug-in hybrid model (known as the Cooper S E) is the quickest Countryman we've tested, but it's also the most expensive." -- Car and Driver
  • "While the standard engine … is fine for daily commutes, the added oomph provided by the … turbo 4-cylinder in the S model is hard to resist, as there is almost no penalty in fuel economy. And of course, there's the 228-horsepower John Cooper Works option, but that pushes the price up by more than $6,000. The S model, though firm, is a good compromise, mixing strong acceleration with good composure, especially when it's ordered with all-wheel drive." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)

Alternative Powertrains and Charging

As mentioned above, the Countryman S E is a plug-in hybrid. It can go up to 17 miles solely on electric power before the gasoline engine kicks in. Using a 240-volt charging station, it will take about 2.5 hours to fully recharge the battery. You can also charge the Countryman S E using a standard 120-volt household-style power outlet, but it will take several hours longer.

MPG Estimates

With its base three-cylinder engine, the Countryman's fuel economy ratings are about average for the subcompact SUV class. Ratings drop slightly with either of the turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The plug-in hybrid is the most fuel-efficient Countryman.

  • Turbo three-cylinder, FWD: 26/33 mpg city/highway
  • Turbo three-cylinder, AWD: 23/32 mpg
  • Turbo-four, FWD: 24/33 mpg
  • Turbo-four, AWD: 23/31 mpg
  • JCW turbo-four, AWD: 23/30 mpg
  • Plug-in hybrid, AWD: 73 MPG-equivalent (electric); 29 mpg combined (gasoline)

Handling and Braking

The Countryman is a little bigger than its Mini brethren, so it isn't quite as playful as the rest of the automaker's lineup. It still provides plenty of driving enjoyment thanks to its dynamic handling and sharp steering. The ride is firm, but it doesn't get too uncomfortable unless the pavement is especially shoddy. The brakes are a bit touchy, however. Front-wheel drive comes standard, and all-wheel drive is available.

  • "From our time in past Countryman models, we found that Mini’s 'go-kart handling' mantra has translated well even to its largest model. For a smaller SUV, the Countryman feels athletic and happily beckons the call of corners." -- Autotrader
  • "Unlike other Mini models, the Countryman never feels light or tossable from behind the wheel. Its stoic disposition isn't a bad thing; it's just different from other Minis, which are unreservedly playful. It's worth noting, though, that our test vehicles haven't been equipped with Mini's adjustable dampers (a package option), which might help offset the sometimes-harsh ride quality we've observed on Countryman models with 18-inch wheels. The plug-in model's brake pedal had a long dead spot at the top of its travel, which takes some getting used to." -- Car and Driver
  • "Being the biggest Mini is kind of like being the biggest horse jockey: You're still pretty small. And that means the Countryman remains athletic enough to throw into a corner with some zest and enjoy the outcome. The steering is engaging, to boot. The only real demerit in the driving experience are the brakes, which feel overboosted and grabby. Perhaps a different brake pad material would help. But, generally speaking, I find the Countryman a very pleasant driving experience." -- Autoweek (2020)
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2021 MINI Cooper Countryman

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