2017 Mini Countryman First Drive: Bigger, better, BMW-er

– Portland, Oregon

The 2017 Mini Countryman is yet another Mini that’s larger than the model it replaces. Get over it.

Enough with the size comments, Minis just get bigger and that’s distracting from the bigger issue the Countryman faces: it has legitimate competitors now. When the four-door Mini ’man arrived in 2010, it may have been large compared to the British Motor Company-era Minis, but it was positively diminutive against what was considered a small SUV at the time. Since then, however, an entire wave of smaller SUVs has emerged and found fans with hundreds of thousands of buyers every year.

This is why the Countryman had to get beefier. Starting with BMW’s UKL2 platform that also forms the basis of the Mini Clubman and BMW X1, the Countryman is eight inches longer than the outgoing model. But at less than 170 inches overall, it’s still only slightly longer than a Volkswagen Golf. It’s at least three inches shorter than an Audi Q3 or Mercedes-Benz GLA, both prime competitors – and nearly a foot shorter than a Honda CR-V, another target rival.

2017 Mini Countryman: First Drive
2017 Mini Countryman: First Drive
2017 Mini Countryman: First Drive
2017 Mini Countryman: First Drive

Again, the Countryman has to appear to be an everyman – no small feat.

So the size should be excused, but the styling is a different story. At a glance, it’s both easily recognizable as a Mini and as a Countryman. Study it closer, and there are somewhat unresolved details that make it less cohesive than before. There are more bulges and edges, and that roofline that digs into the rearmost windows appears even more obvious ...