2017 Mini Countryman: How Mini Is the Biggest Mini?

17MINI_Countryman_3.2[1].jpg graphics by Paul Dolan |

CARS.COM — The original Minis were aptly named. They were tiny city cars that, like an automotive TARDIS from Doctor Who, were bigger on the inside than they seemed from the outside. The Mini brand has been owned by the BMW Group for a while now, and the demands of modern life have caused those Minis to grow in every dimension. Modern crash standards and safety equipment mean that the days of truly small Mini cars are gone.

17MINI_Countryman_AB_01.jpg 2017 MINI Countryman | photo by Aaron Bragman

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So it goes for the 2017 Mini Countryman. It’s not just a little bigger than the one it replaces, which was one of the tiniest SUVs you could buy; the redesigned model is a lot bigger. It sits on a totally new chassis as well, one shared with the front-wheel-drive BMW X1. But you might be surprised to learn just how much the Countryman has grown.

In relation to the old one, it’s longer by 8.1 inches, wider by 1.3 inches and has 2.9 inches more length to its wheelbase, the distance between the wheels that often translates into more interior room. It’s about the same height, however, with a roofline just a fifth of an inch taller than the outgoing Countryman. Those growing dimensions have been turned into more interior room — but not up front. The front legroom remains 40.4 inches, same as the 2016 model. But the backseat legroom gains 3.8 usable inches, while the cargo volume goes up by 5.4 cubic feet with the backseats folded.

Mercedes-Benz_GLA250_chart[2].jpg graphics by Paul Dolan |

To anyone who complained that the old Countryman was too small — and that you could get more SUV for your money with a competitor — that statement no longer holds true. The two main competitors for the Countryman are the Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA250. The ’17 Countryman stacks up well here, too.

The Audi Q3 is three inches longer than the Countryman, but the Mini has a whopping 6.5 inches more backseat legroom, 2.9 inches more front seat headroom, and almost 1 cubic foot more of cargo space.

The differences with the Mercedes-Benz GLA250 are even more pronounced. The little Benz SUV is 4.1 inches longer than the Mini, but the Countryman has 10.5 inches more rear legroom, over two inches more headroom front or back and 2.7 cubic feet more cargo room. A lot of work has gone into making the Countryman space-efficient, and it shows in its usability, far better backseat comfort and improved cargo room. So while it’s not so mini anymore, we think that’s perfectly okay.

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