- MINI personality
- Upgraded infotainment
- Rear seat space
- Limitless customization options
- Improved connectivity
- Numb electric steering
- Undistinguished rear styling
- Chaotic dash, control layout
- Automatic missing paddles
The mildly updated 2015 MINI Countryman is a versatile compact crossover, one of the smallest on the market, that maintains MINI's character and fun-to-drive spirit.
The 2015 MINI Cooper Countryman is the largest MINI model and the only one offering all-wheel drive. It's also one of the smallest utility vehicles on the market, offering more interior space and versatility than other MINI models—in a vehicle that's not nearly as "mini" as the rest of the range.
Although the smaller MINI Cooper Hardtop hatchback and its derivatives are new this year, the MINI Cooper Countryman carries forward with the same underpinnings as last year. Yet simultaneously, this somewhat larger, rugged-themed MINI gets a variety of new styling, interior, and safety improvements.
For 2015, the Countryman gets a new grille, with the sportier Cooper S Countryman identifiable by additional chrome detailing. Most all-wheel-drive models get standard underbody guards, which can be added to the front-wheel-drive models too. Other updates include new 17-inch alloy wheel designs, LED fog lights, and accents in glossy piano black, along with a handful of new exterior colors.
Otherwise, the shape remains the same: a small, upright four-door-plus-tailgate utility vehicle that's identifiably a MINI--though side-by-side with smaller models in the lineup, you might be hard-pressed to point to similarities. The Countryman styling captures the overall MINI effect in a different form, but its lines ring true to the brand while making the vehicle's more practical uses apparent.
Inside, the 2015 MINI Countryman makes chrome air-vent trim and anthracite-colored dials standard across the range. While the compact size limits interior volume, the load bay will hold at least as much as the trunk of standard sedan, and up to 42 cubic feet of cargo with the split folding rear seats folded down.
The most major tweak for the new model is the latest MINI Connected infotainment system, which not only integrates with smartphones but also offers internet-based services encompassing infotainment, communication, and driver experience. They're provided through a growing range of apps that run on the display screen in the center of the dash, and operated via a joystick in the center console.
The 2015 MINI Cooper Countryman retains the same range of powertrains as earlier years. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all three engines are variations on the same1.6-liter four-cylinders, both normally aspirated (at 121 horsepower) and turbocharged on the sportier Cooper S model (181 hp) and special John Cooper Works model (211 hp). A six-speed manual transmission is standard, with a six-speed automatic is available on all models. The MINI ALL4 all-wheel-drive system is optional. You'll get maximum value for money with the base Cooper ALL4, with the top-of-the-line John Cooper Works ALL4 the one for those craving maximum performance.
The MINI Countryman hasn't been tested for crash safety by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). But the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives its top rating of "Good" to the Countryman in all categories tested. Standard safety equipment for 2015 includes a tire-pressure sensor system, daytime running lights, and a parking-alert assistant.
As is true throughout the MINI line, the equipment and appearance combinations for the MINI Countryman are essentially endless. Well-configured in base form, but upgradeable to a number of high-tech and luxury features, there's a Countryman for almost anyone--but beware the bottom line if you have a heavy hand on the optional equipment list.