It's a crossover with some major MINI cues--or is it a MINI that's been inflated to crossover proportions? The MINI Cooper Countryman (yep, its real name) vexes some, and pleases others, as it marches the brand up the ladder in size and passenger count.
The look bears less in common with the MINI hatchback lineup, though. The Clubman's a stretched Cooper, no doubt about it; the Countryman has the right grille shape, the floating roof, and the round headlamps, and little Band-aids of chrome on the fenders to house its marker lights. But otherwise, it's more a callback to MINI tradition than a pure derivative. At the back, it gets amorphous and soft, and the roof takes a half-step to create more headroom, veering further off the MINI footprint. From fifty yards away, your brain would think MINI, no problem; at fifty feet, you're starting to question your knowledge of car history.
Inside, the Countryman shares more in common with its Cooper counterparts in design terms, with familiar, quirky MINI sensibilities: large, round gauges, including the center-mounted speedo; ovoid pedals; a levers-and-knobs center stack; and ample MINI-wing badges. If anything, it's somewhat less busy and complicated than the average MINI--perhaps because the details are spread out over a slightly larger area. The cutdown in chaos is welcome, but the cues are still there, like the big round gauges that evoke the Cooper. That big circle sitting in the center of the dash is MINI, through and through; it's also the size of a Frisbee, so it can frame the speedometer and when equipped, the navigation system.