Building on this strong demand for big, bulky, high-riding Minis, the new Countryman is noticeably bigger than its predecessor. Normally, manufacturers talk about the number of millimetres a car has grown by, but the new Countryman is a fulsome 27cm longer than the outgoing one, and 3cm wider. Even to the untrained eye, it now looks like a full-on, beefed-up, chunky estate-crossover.
We tested the Cooper S ALL4 version at its global launch in Buckinghamshire this week. The range comprises the Cooper, Cooper D, S and SD versions, all with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
Mini has taken the soft-roading character of the ALL4 derivative to amusing lengths – the new Countryman now comes with the option of a fold-down picnic bench – a smart plastic mat with an integrated padded bench that flips over the boot lip to allow you to swap your brogues for Hunters in that polo field. It’s a detail, but one that sums up how and where Mini gets it so right still – in high-quality, innovative, empathetic personalisation of their models. They know their audience well, and get that the future is all about entertaining, tailored, personalised, bespoke trim levels – a market they’ve led since BMW bought the company.