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STYLING | 8 out of 10
The front fascia ditches the cutesy appeal of the current Cooper in favor of a more aggressive, bulgy stance. Yes, it's snarling at you.
If Mini's first crossover -- the Countryman -- succeeds, it will be due more to its style and versatility than for the driving experience
Los Angeles Times
Is it a bit ugly? From some angles it seems odd, and its unprecedented size and ride height play havoc with your Mini preconceptions.
The retro-looking dashboard, with its large central speedometer and toggle switches, will be familiar to anyone who has spent time in more recent Mini models.
Like its predecessors, the Countryman is a two-box design with a happy face consisting of through-the-hood headlamp eyes and upper and lower grilles.
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.
There's just enough MINI in the Countryman's shape to draw away from its tall-wagon proportions.