2021 Mini Countryman facelift Review: First Drive

By Ravi Ved | on April 5, 2021

The XL-sized Countryman gets some minor, yet significant, changes. So, can it still dance like a Mini?

I’ve always thought the Mini Countryman to be a bit paradoxical. It is after all an XL-sized Mini. But for those who love the quirky retro-modern design language of a Mini, and want rear-seat space for the family, the Countryman has always made a strong case for itself. And despite its larger size and added weight, the Countryman has never really lost the fun to drive Mini DNA that we've all loved over the years.

Mini has now brought in the refreshed Countryman and it gets subtle updates to the exterior and the interior, and a new transmission under the hood. Is this 2021 Countryman still true to the Mini badge on the hood? Read on to find out.

2021 Mini Countryman Review Interior Dashboard M

What’s New?

The 2021 Countryman has been reworked on the sketch board and now gets some mild changes to the exterior design that make it look a little more muscular. Not much is new on the inside too, the overall layout remains largely unchanged. From the steering wheel, vertically stacked air-con vents, toggle switches in the centre console to the circular door handles, have all been carried forward. But despite being the same, they don’t quite look outdated as they add that signature Mini touch to the cabin. The gear lever has been changed and it is now shorter and sportier. The biggest change, however, is the switch from the old analogue instrument cluster to a fully digital unit. It continues to be mounted on the steering column though. The Countryman also flaunts a longer list of features including a touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay, automatic tailgate, head-up display and more. 

2021 Mini Countryman Review Instrument Cluster Speedometer Head Up Display M

The seat upholstery is now quilted and it not only magnifies the style quotient but also offers more comfort. There’s good side bolstering and the under-thigh support can be adjusted too. Overall, the cabin exudes a great sense of quality, space, comfort and style that is typical of a Countryman.

2021 Mini Countryman Review In Action M

Unsheathe the Sword

While in the international market, the Countryman is on offer with a range of engine options, BMW has only launched the one with the 2.0-litre turbo petrol in India. This one makes 189bhp and 280Nm. Considering that the Countryman tips the scale at over 1,500kg, it only results in a power-to-weight ratio of about 120bhp/tonne.

Although the numbers may not paint the picture, the engine is quite involving. The torque kicks in low in the rev range which gives you that initial surge, but it only starts to feel spirited when the tacho needle is pointed at its mid-range or upwards. There is linearity in the power delivery that really grows on you. It isn’t as exciting as some of the smaller Minis – the weight obviously doesn’t go unnoticed – but the typical Mini character is certainly present. Mini claims that the Countryman can do the 0-100km/h dash in just 7.5 seconds, which is just a wee bit quicker than the larger BMW X1. Although the outright acceleration is not unequalled, it does feel a lot more engaging to drive than some of the other SUVs in the class. A lot of that also has to do with the way the Countryman attacks corners.

2021 Mini Countryman Review Wheels M

Despite it being front-wheel drive, the Countryman is filled to the brim with that innate Mini DNA. The wider front track ensures that it remains surefooted, and there is a heft to the steering wheel that adds to the involving drive experience. Plus, the firm suspension setup makes it an absolute hoot to drive. Thankfully, it is even damped well to even out most of the surface undulations.

2021 Mini Countryman Review Interior Gear Lever M

The only fly in the ointment is the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. While it is fairly smooth, it does feel a bit slow to downshift, especially in comparison to the 7-speed DSG that we’ve experienced in the Audi Q2 and other VW Group cars. In fact, this could very much be the factor that holds it back from delivering a better acceleration time too. Things don’t improve a whole lot when you use the paddles either. The only saving grace is that you can correct the lag by downshifting a split-second sooner than required.

2021 Mini Countryman Review In Boot Badging M

Peerless Presentation

And finally, the price. Mini has launched the Countryman at a starting price of `39.50 lakh for the Cooper S, and the Cooper S JCW Inspired iteration that we tested carries a sticker price of `43.40 lakh. The pricing is a bit steep, especially considering that it is locally produced in India.

The Countryman, then, is surely not for the hard-minded but for those who live a life beyond reason. It offers the practicality of a crossover, with the dominant and quirky persona of a Mini. And with that in mind, it sits in a rather sweet spot unthreatened by anything else on sale in the price range.  

  • 2021 Mini Countryman

Engine: 1,998cc / 4-Cylinder / Turbocharged

Fuel: Petrol

Transmission: 7-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic / Front-Wheel Drive

Power: 189bhp @ 5,000 - 6,000rpm

Torque: 280Nm @ 1,350 - 4,600rpm

Price: ₹43.40 lakh (Ex-showroom)

X-Factor: The Countryman offers good practicality without losing the signature Mini quirkiness.

Pros           
• Distinctive design
• Practical Mini

Cons
• Slow transmission
 

Also Read:

Mini to go all-electric from 2030

New 2021 MINI John Cooper Works Countryman revealed

Tags: Mini Mini Countryman

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