2021 Mini Cooper S Countryman First Test Review: Worth It?

The 2021 Mini Countryman, Mini’s only SUV, is a relatively unconventional subcompact in a crowded vehicle segment. Launched in 2010 and now in its second generation, the Countryman is a premium crossover with a retro design, sporty looks, and a quirky interior. Functioning as a bit of an SUV/hatchback mix, the Countryman, though pricier than other similar or better-equipped models in its class, is Mini’s best-selling vehicle. Refreshed for the 2021 model year and available with a choice of two powertrains, we tested the 2021 Cooper S Countryman variant equipped with the more powerful 2.0-liter turbo I-4 generating 189 hp and 206 lb-ft of torque. Pushing that power to the wheels via an eight-speed automatic, our test vehicle, featuring ALL4 all-wheel drive and sporting the Iconic trim package, carried an as-tested price of $43,850.

Test Figures

In our figure-eight handling test, the 2021 Mini Cooper S Countryman recorded a 26.6-second lap time at an average of 0.65 g. We found it far more sorted and fluid in its handling than the more expensive Mercedes-AMG GLB35, for one example. (The AMG was quicker, but it didn’t feel all that great.) The all-wheel-drive system felt far more effective here, as we were able to keep our hands calm in the corners. In other words, it drives like a Mini—just a bigger Mini.

The Mini Cooper S Countryman performed its best 0-60-mph run in 7.1 seconds, and it covered the quarter mile in 15.4 seconds at 89.3 mph. It came to a complete stop from 60 mph in 121 feet. EPA fuel-economy figures check in at 23/31/26 mpg city/highway/combined.

For context, the Volvo XC40 R-Design T5  we tested in 2018 needed 6.7 seconds to reach 60 mph, and its best quarter-mile performance registered 15.1 seconds at 90.9 mph. Its 60-0-mph stopping distance came in at 120 feet. Advantage Mini. The similarly sized and priced XC40 didn’t eclipse the Countryman, but it certainly had better performance figures.

Driving the Big Mini

By Mini standards, the four-door Countryman is quite a big chap. The horsepower and torque can feel underwhelming, especially when you aren’t using Sport mode. Even so, the oversized Countryman drives with the agility of a two-door Mini Hardtop while offering refined ride quality, and it produces less wind noise compared to its counterpart. The adaptive suspension gobbles up road imperfections neatly, helping to deliver that unruffled ride.

Along narrow scenic roads with substantial curves, the 2021 Mini Cooper S Countryman drove smoothly on pavement, showing excellent body control no matter how quickly we turned the steering wheel. We pressed the throttle hard through corners and expected the Mini SUV to eventually trip over itself; however, the Countryman handled those turns like a champ. Steering is responsive and feels connected, and the brakes are on the satisfyingly firm side when it’s time to bleed speed.

Interior Pros and Cons 

The 2021 Mini Cooper S Countryman has a charming appearance and proper packaging. Inside, you find classic Mini features such as the round 8.8-inch touchscreen, the bubbly steering wheel, faux aluminum switches, and a tiny 5.0-inch digital instrument cluster. The power-adjustable, heated sport seats are well bolstered and comfortable. And if you look closely, the Union Jack flag in the headrests is a nice touch.

The narrow infotainment screen can come across as a rip-off at first blush, but you then realize it’s useful. Its design and simple menu format create a user-friendly experience; we couldn’t help but enjoy the Pac-Man-like theme of the streets highlighted in green while following the navigation in Los Angeles. (Turn off the points-of-interest setting to clear up the clutter on the map.) The navigation is exceptionally accurate, too, while the head-up display is a nice tool for showing you a snapshot of your next turn, freeway exit, and so forth.

The Icon Treatment 

The top-of-line Iconic trim grade costs $8,000 and includes everything in the Classic and Signature trim levels. The Iconic trim adds ALL4 exterior styling, a power liftgate, Harman Kardon audio system, panoramic moonroof, premium leather upholstery, a complete selection of paint, and performance summer tires.

Additional tech features that are part of the Iconic trim include Apple CarPlay, wireless charging, a head-up display, and a dynamic digital gauge cluster. Android Auto is not available. Moreover, forward collision warning, a rearview camera, front automatic emergency braking, and rear-parking distance control come standard.

Constructive Criticism 

The 2021 Mini Cooper S Countryman suffers a bit from cheap-plastic syndrome. For example, the center console, bezels, paddle shifters, and power window/door lock switches are made from the stuff. On the upside, the rear seats with split-folding seat backs recline and slide, which is a sweet feature. Cargo storage, measuring 47.6 cubic feet, seems spacious enough to fit a good chunk of your personal items during a cross-country move.

Cute Isn’t Always Enough 

With an as-tested price of $43,850, the 2021 Mini Cooper S Countryman commands a high premium for what you get. Although it’s retro-cool and charming, the price arguably does not match the total package. Some buyers might rather consider other comparably priced alternatives, including the Volvo XC40, Lexus UX, BMW X1, and Audi Q3. But make no mistake: Eccentric and somewhat unique, the 2021 Mini Cooper S Countryman is nonetheless a delight to drive.

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