Mini Countryman Cooper S ALL4 2011 Review

May 20th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mini’s new Countryman has been launched amid serious anticipation and with a tough task ahead. To really succeed it requires people to reconsider everything they know about a brand they instantly recognise and mostly admire. When the Mini first appeared in 1959, it was a budget car for the people, a distinctive machine that was attainable and the world loved it. Then in 2001 BMW reinvented the Mini in a modern form, some people weren’t so hot on it, many others were, but we all got used to this new Mini and grew to accept it. Now, in an understandable effort to broaden its model range and appeal, Mini has launched its new Countryman. With four doors and significantly larger dimensions it comes asking new questions of the public. Can people accept that Mini as a company is more than just one model with different variations? Can the Countryman be a viable option for practical-focused families and modern lifestyles? Will it still retain enough appeal for Mini enthusiasts and offer traditional go-kart-style driving dynamics? Car and SUV strapped into Mini’s top spec Countryman ALL4 in search of the answers.

Minis are most famous for being mini in stature so it’s no surprise that many folk are getting all caught up on the Countryman’s plus-size proportions. For the record it’s 4,110mm in length, 1,561mm in height and is quite wide at 1,996mm. This makes the Countryman 381mm longer, 128mm higher and 104mm wider than a regular modern Mini. Think of it as a large hatchback or a small crossover vehicle. Continue reading “Mini Countryman Cooper S ALL4 2011 Review” »

Mini Countryman – NZ pricing and availability announced

January 25th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mini NZ has announced further details of the eagerly anticipated Mini Countryman, set to arrive in New Zealand next month.

The Mini Countryman is touted to offer the unique handling of a regular Mini with the practical space and versatility of a four-door, plus the traction of a Sports Activity Vehicle optimised by optional all-wheel drive.

Marking a new chapter in the evolution of Mini as a brand, the Countryman is more than four metres long with four doors, the option of four or five seats and a four wheel drive option called “ALL4″.

Mini Countryman pricing will start at $46,900 for the Cooper Countryman and the Mini Cooper D Countryman, featuring a 1.6 litre turbo-diesel engine, will start at $49,900.

All variants feature a six-speed manual as standard and offer an optional six-speed automatic transmission for an additional $3,000.

There are two all-new ALL4 models added to the line-up, which cost an extra $3,000 compared with their two-wheel drive counterparts. Continue reading “Mini Countryman – NZ pricing and availability announced” »

2011 Mini Paceman concept – officially unveiled

December 20th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Rumours have been circulating about what concept Mini would launch at next month’s Detroit Auto Show with many guessing an even smaller Mini micro car. But today rumours have been put to rest with the announcement that Mini will take its new Paceman concept.

Based heavily on the upcoming Countryaman, Mini has removed the rear doors and turned it into a coupe. There are plenty of subtle styling tweaks, and Mini have created a new category for the vehicle labeling it the world’s first Sports Activity Coupe in the small-car segment.

Visually, the Paceman starts identically to the Countryman up front, where it uses the same grille as the higher-powered Cooper S Countryman. Behind the front clip, the Paceman has a shorter, more sloping roofline. Large 19-inch wheels are fitted, suggesting greater performance for the two-door edition. On the rear, the Paceman has more of a horizontal design theme, with a lower, smaller glass area and taillamps that wrap around and are turned 90 degrees from their vertical installation in the Countryman.

Even with the missing rear doors, the Paceman is the same size as its Countryman donor car, measuring the same 4110mm in length and 1789mm width. Thanks to the chopped roofline however, the Paceman’s height is shorter by 20mm at 1541mm.

Under the burly bonnet lays the same 1.6 litre twin-scroll turbocharged engine found in the brand’s John Cooper Works models, which produces 155kW and 260Nm of torque.

As with the Countryman, the Paceman also features Mini’s All4 permanent all-wheel-drive system, which can send up to the full 100 percent of power to the rear axle if the front wheels completely lose traction. The front axle also features an electronic LSD system to further improve grip. Continue reading “2011 Mini Paceman concept – officially unveiled” »

Mini ready to eat sand with the X-Raid All4 Countryman

December 10th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The new four-door Mini Countryman hasn’t reached our shores yet, but it’s already making waves in the motorsport world. One place you wouldn’t expect to usually see a Mini is in the hardcore Dakar Rally Series where vehicles are put through a rugged endurance test over the harshest terrains.

Not just any Mini Countryman would be up to the task, so the X-Raid Racing Team got busy turning a stock model into the sand-eating beast you see above. What was created was the Mini All4 Racing, which is part of the X-raid’s seven-car Dakar team. It took just 90 days to complete the racing model with the Mini Design team and Magna Steyr partnering with X-raid on the project.

This newest Dakar racer is powered by the same twin-turbo diesel engine as in the 2011-specification BMW X3 CC. It’s a powerful unit that pumps out 232 kW, but more importantly 710 Nm of torque. Within the team’s ranks the MINI All4 will replace an outgoing 2010 BMW X3CC.

Switching to the Countryman has a number of benefits, including better handling from the vehicle’s lower center of gravity and shorter wheelbase. But going the distance will be the ultimate test for the iconic machine.

The car will be driven by the French rally team of Guerlain Chicherit and co-driver Michel Perin.