The ‘S’ badge on the Countryman’s grille isn’t there purely for decoration, it signifies that this is a fast MINI. With a 125bhp petrol engine AND a 70kW electric motor on board, it’s hardly a surprise that, given the right encouragement, the MINI can feel pretty fast. Electric power adds a gentle smoothness to acceleration, while its turbocharged petrol heart helps with big dollops of torque when you need it.
Sensible driving is rewarded with a whisper quiet electric motor doing the heavy lifting in town, and if the three-cylinder petrol does need to fire up it’s on the quieter side. Though if you do push it, the petrol motor can sound a little drone-y. Thankfully you can turn the sound system up on the motorway to drown that out…
Its gearbox is smooth enough for most when used sensibly, though more spirited driving can overwhelm it a little.
Much like the MINI brand image, the Countryman isn’t a scary car to get to grips with. All the control points are big, friendly, and easy to use. To get going, pop your foot on the brake, press the big ‘ol ‘START’ button on the centre stack, slot it in to ‘D’ and away you go. It’ll silently move you forward, not bothering the petrol motor unless it really needs to.
In town it’s quiet, comfortable, and, well, easy. The high driving position means you get a decent view of what’s going on around you as well, which is confidence inspiring. It steering is light, even in sport mode, so you won’t need any gym time to get the best out of it.
You won’t have any concerns driving it around the city. On the motorway, once again, it’s an easy car to drive – light controls and a good view are a huge bonus here.
The only downside is that it’s not hugely entertaining on the twisty stuff. Being so high up, and the car’s comparatively high weight mean it’s not going to give you chills while driving fast.