The MINI Countryman is not exactly the kind of SUV you’d take on an expedition – the compact crossover’s modest off-roading capabilities means that it trades more on its appearance rather than actual ruggedness. But one company is attempting to inject at least a modicum of toughness with the introduction of the Countryman Powered by X-raid.
X-raid isn’t just any tuning company. This German motorsports team runs MINI’s official rally raid effort that has taken five victories at the gruelling Dakar Rally – including this year’s edition and four on the trot between 2012 and 2015. While the competition vehicles are purpose-built machines, the team uses modified Countrymans as support vehicles, so there is some pedigree behind the tweaks.
The extra ability comes from a series of fairly minor changes. A lift kit raises the suspension by a good 20 mm, while the 17-inch beadlock wheels – an unexpectedly hardcore addition – provide added protection and prevent the beefier tyres from separating from the rim. The taller tyre and wheel combo means that the ride height has been increased by a total of 40 mm, which also improves ramp angles and water-wading depth.
Other accessories include an aluminium roof rack and LED headlights on the grille; orange bonnet, side and tailgate stripes with the X-raid logo complete the look. Customers can either spring for the entire package or purchase each element individually.
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