Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1
  • Lots of engine choice, though no diesel
  • Automatics and all-wheel drive available
  • Plug-in hybrid also offered

Petrol engines

Performance is served up by a range of turbocharged petrol engines in a range of power outputs, meaning there should be something for most buyers, whether you want something more frugal or something performance-focused.

Kicking off the petrol range is the Cooper, powered by a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo producing 136hp and 220Nm of torque. It’s good for a 0-62mph sprint time of 9.7 seconds, and will reach a top speed of 127mph, whether fitted with either the six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Opting for a Cooper All4 nets you the same engine, power and torque outputs, but with the reassurance of all-wheel-drive traction. The 0-62mph time drops to 10.1 seconds, while top speed is 125mph. This is only available with an automatic gearbox.

Providing a significantly higher power output is the 178hp Cooper S, powered by a 2.0-litre turbo. Torque is rated at 280Nm, and sprints from 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds (7.4 seconds for the auto), with a maximum top speed of 140mph.

Again, an automatic-only Cooper S All4 is available for all-wheel-drive security, this time with a faster 0-62mph time of 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 138mph. Despite the performance figures, this particular version of the Countryman feels less exciting than you might expect, taking longer to whirr into life when you put your foot down.

Although the auto gearbox is smooth enough, no particular urgency is felt or heard until the turbo comes on song, at which point the Countryman moves along not quite smartly enough to substantiate the claimed performance figures.

Happily, all is largely quiet and composed at a cruise, and the powertrain never runs out of oomph on gradients at motorway speeds, without excessive recourse to downshifts.

At the pinnacle of the Countryman range in terms of performance is the John Cooper Works ALL4. Powered by a 2.0-litre turbo petrol, it produces 306hp and 450Nm of torque, driven through all four wheels and an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard.

The 0-62mph time is just 5.1 seconds, and the car will go onto a top speed of 155mph.

Hybrid engines

At a more sensible end of the range (at least in terms of economy) is the plug-in hybrid Countryman Cooper S E All4. It combines the 1.5-litre turbo from the Cooper with an electric motor producing the equivalent of 88hp, making maximum system outputs of 224hp and 385Nm of torque.

It’ll go from 0-62mph in just 6.8 seconds, making it the second-fastest accelerating Countryman after the full-fat JCW. 

An electric motor powers the rear wheels, so when you’re driving on battery power alone, it’s only rear-wheel drive. The rest of the time, the engine powers the front wheels, depending on which of the eDrive modes you’ve selected to drive in.

Fully charged, the plug-in hybrid will travel for up to 26 miles on battery power alone and at speeds of up to 78mph, and produces just 40-44g/km of CO2. However, it can vary depending on how you’re driving. Putting your foot down all the time will see that battery power deplete rapidly, so it’s best reserved for use in town where this version really comes into its own.

What’s it like to drive?

  • Good body control and little roll
  • Feels agile for its size
  • All4 models add grip and traction

MINI has spent a great deal of money and time ensuring that front MacPherson strut and pricey multilink rear suspension systems guarantee its cars handle with more than a passing nod to the energy of the original Mini. And happily, despite a fair degree of added bloat over the stock Hatchback, the Countryman acquits itself with satisfactory aplomb.

Given its extra height and ground clearance, the Countryman’s never going to have the feeling of darting agility that we’ve grown used to in the MINI Hatch, but it corners tidily, with less roll than expected and good body control. All-wheel drive adds useful amounts of added grip and traction in foul weather, though standing water will still throw it briefly out of kilter.

Overall, the Countryman is one of the best-handling crossovers on sale thanks to its tidy body control and confidence-inspiring driving manners. It also helps that you sit low in the car, which makes it feel more like a regular hatchback than a proper SUV.