Facelift for MINI Countryman

  • Cleaner engines mean lower tax bills
  • Nicer place to be thanks to smarter interior
  • More practical rear seats for more space

MINI has announced a raft of updates for its Countryman SUV model. The changes will be applied to all Countryman models from November 2012 onwards.

Of most relevance to company car buyers is a cleaner set of emissions figures for the MINI One Countryman and Cooper Countryman models. Six engines are available for the Countryman range as a whole, divided into three petrol and three diesel units. There’s a broad spread of power outputs, starting from 90bhp and ranging to more than twice that, but the most favourable BIK tax rates can be had by opting for diesel power.

Drivers wanting greater security on greasy winter roads can opt for the four-wheel drive system available as an option on the Cooper S, Cooper D and Cooper SD models, although they’ll take a greater hit at the pumps and in emissions tax bands. The range-topper in terms of performance remains the John Cooper Works Countryman with 215bhp turbocharged power, available in all-wheel drive form only.

A six-speed automatic transmission is available for all models bar the MINI One D Countryman, while certain manual-equipped Cooper models have been fettled to meet new European Union exhaust emissions standards scheduled for 2014.

Visually, the tweaks concentrate on the car’s interior materials. Changes include new Carbon Black surrounds for the air vents and MINI’s trademark oversized central speedometer. The vents’ inner sections are now finished in gloss black or, alternatively, in chrome as part of the Chrome Line interior option pack.

New door inserts with reshaped armrests promise greater support for the driver and, for the first time, the electric window switches have been moved from their previous position on the centre console to a new control panel on the driver’s door trim in a bid for easier usability. MINI says shifting the switches has also opened up space for a larger cubby hole for storage in the centre console.

Passengers in the back now benefit from a three-seat rear bench as standard fit rather than the Countryman’s original arrangement of two separate seats. However, two individual seats can still be fitted as a no-cost option if desired.

A larger range of paint colours have been made available too, including the energetically named Brilliant Copper metallic and Blazing Red metallic.

Early indications suggest P11d values will be unchanged from the previous Countryman lineup, starting at £16,335 for the entry-level One variant.