Something completely unexpected: MINI Cooper S Countryman SUV

Long time readers will know that I am a big fan of Subaru. One of the reasons for this is that I very much like a highly reliable car. For me reliability is far and away my number one criteria.

I realise this seems a little silly in these modern days of smartphones and road service everywhere. If anything you would expect that reliability would be in the lower half of anyone's top ten criteria. But I come from the country and the need for reliability is deeply seated in my brain.

If there is one key factor about Subaru then it is reliability. The trade off is that, by and large, they always lag in the latest in-cabin 'stuff'; they tend not to be the best looking designs; their economy figures are usually nothing to shout about; and their service charges (if you go back to the dealer) tend to be on the high side.

But they are very reliable mechanically and their engines last forever—often outlasting the chassis and bodywork.

However, just recently, the new MINI Cooper S Countryman has caught my eye.

This latest 2017 model is not due to be released in Australia until mid-March. As you can probably tell from the picture, it is bigger than the 'normal' MINI Cooper. And it's faster. With a baby turbo bolted to the 2.0 litre engine it does the 0 - 100 kph in a respectable 7.2 seconds with two people in the car.

The MINI Cooper S, which—let's face it—is basically a BMW by another name, has the new eight speed automatic from the BMW X1 and X2 in it.

The Countryman is marketed as an SUV but its SUV credentials are unlikely to match those of the Subaru XV or Forester. To begin with the XV has 8" clearance whereas the Countryman has a claimed 7"—which is about the same as a 'normal' car used to have in the 1980s.

BMW have worked hard to try and retain that distinctive MINI style and look inside the cabin while at the same time making it modern.

Notice the heads-up display above the steering wheel. Nice touch. And like most heads-up displays it is retractable (for when you don't want a heads-up display).

Another interesting feature is the 'picnic' seat that can be folder out of the back.

Overall the new Countryman is about 10 percent larger than the outgoing model. Most of this additional room comes thanks to the BMW X1 platform that the Countryman is built on.

I expect that this new model Countryman is going to be about the size of the original Subaru Forester.

As I say: Interesting . . .

You can find more pictures here ... should you want to.