The MINI Cooper Countryman--yep, that's its formal name--has the bigger size and softer profile of a crossover, but with all the MINI cues that tie it directly to the smaller Clubman and Cooper hatchbacks.
But while the Clubman is like a limo-stretch Cooper, the Countryman is a little less direct in its references. Sure, the front end has the ribbed grille, the front fenders have Band-aids of chrome with marker lights, and the sideview has the colorful hardtop. The Countryman even the right glass-to-metal ratio. In back is where the analogy to smaller Coopers doesn't hold up as well. The rear's more amorphous and soft, the clear compromise in the design. Call it a 50-footer: your brain would think "MINI" at that distance, while up close it would parse it and sniff out the curvy X1 hiding underneath.
The Countryman cockpit feels less MINI-chaotic, and more German-disciplined. Big round gauges are evocative of the Cooper. So is the big circle sitting in the center of the dash: it's almost the size of a Frisbee, so it can frame the speedometer and when equipped, the navigation system.
The dash itself is a continental-looking piece that could find its way into any soft-roader from Nissan or Skoda or Jeep. The window switches, an L-shaped parking brake and half-moon door handles dress it up to something like MINI spec. A jet-black interior would bring things in line with heritage nicely, but as is, the Countryman's still impressive in its continuity with other MINIs.