Mini’s Countryman arrives

Mini has launched its latest and largest model, the Mini Countryman, in Ireland.

Countryman is the fourth member of the Mini family, following the hatch, convertible and Clubman, but it is 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 says the Countryman offers more space, more practicality and more versatility than any previous model and it will also spearhead its 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 as 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.

Mini claims the Countryman models still pack in the driving thrills like other Minis. But, it adds, the Countryman also brings new levels of space and versatility to the range that will attract not only existing Mini owners but also new customers. Mini expects, for instance, the extra space will mean that around 80 per cent of Countryman sales in Britain will come from customers completely new to the Mini brand. It will be interesting to see if this projection differs in Ireland.

One cannot 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 4097mm ), 106mm wider (at 1,789mm ) and 154mm taller (at 1561mm ).

The Countryman offers 190 litres more luggage capacity than a Mini 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 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.

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