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Ladies and gentlemen, behold the new F60 MINI Countryman – the SUV from the British brand has been redesigned with a much larger body, a new interior, a host of new technologies and new engines.

In an effort to improve interior space (not something its predecessor was known for), the Countryman is now a whopping 20 cm longer and 3 cm wider, with the wheelbase having been stretched some 7.5 cm. Apart from a more habitable space for occupants, there’s also a much bigger boot, now 220 litres larger at 450 litres – expandable up to 1,390 litres by folding the 40:20:40 split rear seats.

Although the typical MINI design – blacked-out pillars, floating roof, large black wheel arches – has been kept, the new front end has a lot going on. The headlights (LED units now an option, with ring daytime running lights) are now wider, almost trapezoidal in shape, flanking the hexagonal grille.

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Down below, the Cooper S variants sport triple air intakes, with the outer ones sporting fog lights that have moved to the inner corners. Some models appear to get black front and rear bumper bars and skid plates, which certainly create a, um, polarising appearance.

Along the sides, the side scuttle in the front fenders are now arrow-shaped, while pronounced haunches can now be found above the front and rear wheel arches, along with a scalloped surface on the rockers. Moving rearward, the tail lights get concentric rings as on other new MINIs, plus vertical reflectors in the bumper.

Inside, the Countryman will look familiar to anyone who’s been in a new MINI Hatch or Clubman – the dinner plate-sized centre speedometer has been banished in favour of a smaller, more conventional gauge that sits next to the rev counter atop the steering column.

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The centre ring remains and now features customisable LED lighting around it, while the infotainment display – specifiable in a size up to 8.8 inches and as a touchscreen for the first time, with the MINI navigation system Professional – sitting within.

With the uprated navigation system and the Wired package, the Countryman adds a silly new feature called the MINI Country Timer, which registers how far you travel over sloping, uneven, unsurfaced and snow-covered terrain, going from Street Cruiser to Cliff Champ status.

Differentiating the Countryman from other new MINI models are the lozenge-shaped vertical air vents, as well as full-width decorative trim that cascades downwards. Items cribbed from the new Clubman include an electronic parking brake as well as optional power-adjustable seats with memory.

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At the rear, the bench can be slid forwards and backwards by 13 cm, and is also reclinable either for passenger comfort or to increase boot space. The boot features an optional powered tailgate, a handsfree tailgate opening function tied into the Comfort Access keyless entry option as well as a Picnic Bench cushion that folds out onto the load lip, providing seating for two.

Safety-wise, the Countryman comes as standard with collision warning and city braking, while the Driving Assistant with camera-based active cruise control, pedestrian warning with initial brake function, high beam assistant and road sign detection are available as options. Also optional are Park Distance Control, rear view camera, Parking Assistant and a head-up display.

Integrated with smartphones and the Apple Watch, MINI Connected now has a few new features, including automatically transferring addresses and appointments to the car – meaning you won’t have to input them into the navigation system again – as well as saving regularly visited places as favourite destinations.

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Another cool feature is the MINI Find Mate, part of the Wired package – Bluetooth-enabled tags can be fitted to easy-to-lose items like keys or bags, which can then be tracked either via the car, on a computer or on a smartphone. An acoustic signal can be sent out to help locate the object.

The Countryman is available in four variants at launch, using the same turbocharged engines as the Clubman. The Cooper is powered by a 136 hp/220 Nm 1.5 litre three-cylinder engine, while the Cooper S gets a 192 hp/280 Nm 2.0 litre four-pot.

Meanwhile, both Cooper D and SD are powered by the same 2.0 litre turbodiesel, with the former getting 150 hp and 330 Nm and the latter receiving 190 hp and 400 Nm. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard fitment, with the Cooper getting a six-speed automatic option and the Cooper S and D receiving an eight-speeder. The Cooper SD gets the eight-speed auto as standard.

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Also available is a Cooper S E All4 plug-in hybrid, using the BMW 225xe Active Tourer‘s drivetrain. The Cooper’s three-pot is mated to an 88hp/165 Nm rear electric motor, a 7.6 kWh lithium-ion battery and a six-speed auto, delivering a combined 224 hp and 385 Nm to all four wheels. Zero to 100 km/h takes just 6.9 seconds, and the car is also capable of up to 40 km of pure electric driving, at speeds of up to 125 km/h.

As with plug-in BMWs, the Cooper S E features three modes, with the standard hybrid Auto eDrive restricting electric-only speeds to 80 km/h. Max eDrive uses only the electric motor whenever possible, and Save Battery conserves battery charge, and charges it up to 90%. Speaking of which, the car takes 2 hours 15 minutes to charge fully using a wallbox; using a regular household socket adds an hour to the time.

Under the skin, the Countryman is fitted with a MacPherson strut front suspension and a multilink rear axle, with power sent either to the front wheels, or to all four via the revised optional All4 all-wheel drive system. Available for the first time is Dynamic Damper Control, adjustable via the also optional MINI Driving Modes with Mid, Sport and Green modes.



GALLERY: MINI Cooper S E Countryman All4