Competes with: Fiat 500L, Volkswagen Tiguan, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
Looks like: The 2014 Countryman ... and all other Minis with four doors
Powertrains: 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 121, 181 or 208 hp; six-speed manual or automatic transmission; front- or all-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Summer 2014
The 2015 Countryman, the largest of Minis, will appear this week at the 2014 New York International Auto Show sporting the slightest of updates, outside and inside.
The Countryman's exterior changes are subtle indeed. Grille changes amount to the addition of horizontal ribs — a single chrome one with a red S on the Cooper S version, a red one with corresponding logo for the John Cooper Works version and two matte-silver ribs on the base Cooper trim level. LED fog, parking and daytime running lights are now standard on Cooper S and JCW but optional on the Cooper.
Once optional, accent trim on the front and rear aprons and side sills are now standard on each ALL4 all-wheel-drive trim level except the JCW. The accents become an option on the front-drive models as well for 2015.
New metallic paint choices include Jungle Green, Midnight Grey and Starlight Blue. A new Piano Black Exterior treatment is also available.
Last revised lightly for 2013, the Countryman's interior changes little for 2015. All trims have adopted the John Cooper Works' gauge face color, anthracite — sort of a shiny gray. Mini says it has improved "acoustic comfort."
In case you didn't catch it, Mini discontinued the Countryman's center rail console option for the backseat, though it remains in the front, for 2014. As a result, all Countrymans are now five-seaters. The backseat's two segments can be slid forward and back in a 60/40 split. The backrests fold in a 40/20/40 split.
Under the Hood
As before, the Countryman comes with front- or all-wheel drive in the Cooper and Cooper S trim levels and with all-wheel drive only for the John Cooper Works. Six-speed manual transmissions are standard and a six-speed automatic is optional. Each trim level gets its own power spec from the 1.6-liter four-cylinder: The Cooper has 121 horsepower, and different levels of turbocharging give the Cooper S 181 hp and the John Cooper Works 208 hp.
The 2015 Countryman has six airbags and the required antilock brakes, electronic stability system and tire-pressure monitors but lacks more ambitious active-safety features. Arguable safety features include adaptive turning lights and rear backup sensors. A rearview camera is still not available.