When I was looking to buy my first car, I was pretty brand agnostic and didn’t have any particular make or model in mind. My only “musts” were that it had to be a coupé and I had a preference for German-made.
My boyfriend ended up helping me find a BMW 335i within my price range which was both an amazing and HORRIBLE find at the same time.
The Good: I absolutely fell in love with the balance, handling, steering, performance, shape, and interior of the car.
The Bad: It ruined all other daily drivers for me.
The 335i ignited my love for agile, torque-y, and fun-driving cars which can be tough to come by in this day and age where the market is saturated with CUVs and SUVs. I tend to drive a lot of those for work so it was refreshing to have access to the MINI JCW Countryman ALL4 thanks to BMW Group.
MINI, which is owned by BMW, is known for being a brand that represents a lot of the qualities I appreciate about the 335i: their cars are nimble and well-balanced, and famously handle like go karts.
Where It Stands
The Countryman is the largest vehicle in the MINI lineup and it’s technically a crossover. It’s also higher up than a “traditional” MINI making its driving dynamics a bit different. The Countryman is large enough to pack up for long road trips but small enough for city driving to be a piece of cake.
How It Drives
Because it is the largest MINI vehicle, it’s never going to handle like JCW 3 Door but it still feels athletic and agile. It also doesn’t feel underpowered despite “only” having a 2.0L TwinPower turbo inline-four.
What I Like
I loved the way it handles. The JCW variant definitely takes this up a notch with performance-related upgrades and Dynamic Damper Control also contributes to this.
The steering feels tight which is really, really difficult to find these days.
What I Don’t Like
As I continue to write down my thoughts on the cars we drive, I will continue to emphasize that everyone has different preferences when it comes to cars. Some consider them to be simply vessels to get from A to B. Others value versatility, while some value technology or safety features, etc.
I personally appreciate build quality hence my love for German vehicles.
The MINI Countryman is definitely well made but it’s not my taste. I find I have a preference for sleeker cabins and the Countryman was just so youthful, but that might be exactly what someone else is looking for! The switches that replaced the knobs, the fun infotainment system, and the checkered flag speedometer are all neat features to have but I couldn’t see myself surrounded by that every day.
It’s underrated, but for a super niche market. If you love MINIs which are so unique and distinct, the Countryman is the logical option if you like a fun car that can also be useful.