Mini will launch its latest and largest model, the Mini Countryman, here next month. Countryman will be the fourth member of the Mini family following Hatch, Convertible, and Clubman but the first to have four doors, seating for five adults and the first to offer four wheel drive.
The Mini Countryman will be available in a number of models, including at least one with ALL4, Mini’s new four wheel drive option. Mini say that the Countryman offers more space, more practicality, and more versatility than any previous model and it will also spearhead their return to the World Rally Championship in 2011.
“Countryman takes the Mini story to a new level in the brand’s 51 year heritage,” said a Mini spokesman. “With extra space, ALL4, and four doors we believe the Mini Countryman will appeal to a completely new audience and with keen prices to go with a very high standard specification, I think we are on to a winner,” he observed.
The demand for crossover vehicles has grown substantially in recent years. A lot of drivers want the best of both worlds. They like normal saloon-like driving responses as well as the added versatility of soft off-road ability. They also like to have interior flexibility to cope with all the hobbies, shopping trips and activities that are such a huge part of busy modern family life.
As a result, Mini points out that the Countryman arrives in a growing segment that presents an opportunity to attract buyers from a wide range of competitive cars. Not only will they find the flexibility their lifestyle demands but they will also discover the world of Mini, a world where practicality and versatility does not bring limitations on the fun that can be derived from driving.
Mini claim that the Countryman models still pack in the driving thrills like other Minis. But they add that the Countryman will also brings new levels of space and versatility to the range that will attract not only existing Mini owners but also new customers. They expect for instance that the extra space will mean that around 80 per cent of Countryman sales in the UK will come from customers completely new to the Mini brand. It will be interesting to see if this projection differs in Ireland.
Mini, also in the UK, says that already they see the Mini Countryman being the benchmark in terms of residual values and lease company whole life costs.
Typically Mini yet topically different
One could not mistake the new Countryman for anything other than a Mini yet it is distinctly different to any that has gone before. It is 374mm longer than a Mini Hatch (at 4097 mm ), 106 mm wider (at 1,789 mm ), and 154 mm taller (at 1561 mm ).
Countryman offers 190 litres more luggage capacity than a MiniI Hatch with the seats up (a total of 350 litres ) and 1,170 litres with the rear seats folded flat.
And for the first time ever a Mini has four wide-opening doors, passenger capacity for five adults, and a flexible, activity-orientated interior packed with innovations.
Most likely all models for the Irish market will be built as five seat cars, although customers can specify the four seat option at no extra cost.
I will bring you more details on specification, price, and driving impressions next month.