February 22, 2018 By Kevin C. Limjoco Images by Isabel N. Delos Reyes

2017 MINI Cooper SD Countryman

The all-new MINI Cooper Countryman (F60) is now everything it was mean to be. The previous 1stgeneration model had an uphill battle establishing itself but once it did, it rightfully became a worldwide commercial success. The new Countryman shares its chassis and drivetrain with the all-new BMW X1 and 2-Series Active Tourer but naturally applies its own design, fitment, tuning, and equipment. It is 8 inches longer and about an inch wider than the previous generation on an almost 3-inch longer wheelbase.

For additional perspective, our front-wheel driven turbodiesel SD Countryman test unit slightly edges out the last gasoline S model in both acceleration and top speed while being substantially larger, plusher, fuller featured with considerably better fuel efficiency, real world drivability, and fuel range. It is a fabulous premium crossover with its own unique personality that continues to grow on you long after you switch the engine off. The new model once again builds on all the traits and features that we loved in the old car with the only penalties being additional weight and a higher price tag. Thankfully, the weight gain is sorted brilliantly by the potent turbodiesel that makes 41 bhp and 70 lb-ft of torque more than before coupled to an 8-speed gearbox (up from 6) on a superior new chassis. And the price gain is now more justifiable than before.

If you want the 4ALL variant, though, which is MINI’s reinterpretation of BMW’s xDrive AWD system for roughly P200k more money and 70kg more weight, you would not only gain extra all-weather all-terrain driving security but even better acceleration by three-tenths of a second which actually makes the Countryman SD quicker than a BMW xDrive20d. However, the taller X1 is slightly more capacious in both trunk and interior space being almost six inches longer, but it does have a less stylized interior design. The extra surface clearance on the BMW combined with the locally standard xDrive system also give it an advantage off-road over the MINI without 4ALL.

We drove the Countryman SD to the gorgeous El Jardin De Zaida, a wonderful over four-hectare multi-event hacienda in San Juan, Batangas which is roughly 130 kilometers south of Makati. Originally a family farm, El Jardin was the perfect destination point for our testing as the journey going there and back demonstrated practically every possible Philippine road condition that a premium MINI crossover would realistically traverse. The sweetener of our destination though was we got to dine and tour with the wonderful family matriarch herself, the extremely hard-working mom and businesswoman, Madame Zaida Mago herself. We highly recommend the place whether you want to simply take a break from city life or hold a special event. The drive getting there was effortless coming from the STAR Tollway. On the way back, we purposely drove through Lipa City traffic where the Countryman nimbly maneuvered through before heading back on the highway.

With the healthy powerplant, which was noticeably more vocal than in a BMW X1, passing on country roads was completely without drama. At low speeds, the brakes did get a little grabby at times while the steering feel was communicative enough to still be representative of a MINI if just. I prefer the crispness and positioning of the HUD system on the new Mazda CX-5 and CX-9 but I am still thankful that MINI Philippines packaged their local market units with them nonetheless. The very handsome and supportive quilted leather seats may only seat 4-adults in comfort, once again much like the X1, but oddly there is a bit more rear legroom in the MINI.

Ultimately, the MINI Countryman SD is a very close second to the current domestic best in the segment, the BMW X1 xDrive20d in overall terms. As dynamically close as they naturally are, since they share so much engineering, what truly separates them are design and packaging. Do you want your next premium crossover to be more flamboyant and youthful or do you want it to be more serious and mature? Either one would be rewarding and entertaining. MINI Philippines chose very wisely to sell the default Countryman in SD trim which even matches the current S stablemate in acceleration from rest but offers so much more range and real-world drivability.

Specification – 2017 MINI Cooper SD Countryman

Engine: Inline-4, 1995 cc, dohc 16V, Direct Injection Intercooled Turbodiesel, 8-speed AT

Max power: 188 bhp @ 4000 rpm

Max torque: 295 lb ft @ 1750-2500 rpm

0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 7.7 sec.

Top Speed: 220 km/h (138 mph) Governed

Fuel Mileage: 5.1–4.9 liters/100 kilometers overall

Price as tested: PhP 3,400,000.00

C! RATING 9.5/10

+Matches the acceleration of the current Cooper S model, best Countryman ever, full featured, and lovely interior.

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