I've been a Mini lover for years. I had a 2003 base Cooper for about five years and positively adored her. When the time came and she was just too small for my growing family it was a natural choice t...
I've been a Mini lover for years. I had a 2003 base Cooper for about five years and positively adored her. When the time came and she was just too small for my growing family it was a natural choice to move up to the Countryman. I bought a brand new 2011 base Countryman and within a week I sorely regretted the purchase. The biggest problem was the handling. Whenever i hit a bump at just the right angle and acceleration the car would lurch to the side. Not sorta bump, but move over a full foot. I took it back to the dealer and they said that's just how it's designed to handle. That's right, a Mini, who's reputation is built on it's handling was designed to bump you off the road when you hit a bump on a curve (think expansion joints on on-ramps). But i figured i was stuck with the car, so I simply adjusted my driving style. Every unfamiliar bump became scary. Also, the base Countryman has positively no power. I was getting passed on the hills by tractor trailers. No more racing in and out of traffic in this baby (ok, that's probably a good thing).
Interior "styling"? Eh. I like the middle speedo that is a Mini signature, but the overall design made no sense. The moveable accessories for the center rail? They barely all fit, and only the sunglasses case fits under the e-brake, which takes up 70% of the front rail. The cup holders are obnoxiously large on the outside, but hold little on the inside. THey are probably 7 inches across, yet barely hold a soda can. PLUS, the prongs inside the cupholders seem to be upside down, making it nearly impossible to gently slide your cup in.
And don't get me started on the windshield wiper controls. Twist for the back, but if you leave it "on" and turn off the car, you have to turn it off and then back on. Flick toward you for one swipe, flick away for intermittent, flick up for normal speed, flick up again for fast. 80% of the time i flicked the wrong way.
Don't get me wrong, there are things about the car i liked. I like the Mini Speedo, and the concept of the center rail (not the execution!), the split back seats since i only transport adults it felt more grown up, and having more space than a base cooper was definitely a plus. And the sunroof. I'm a sucker for a big sunroof and Mini delivers. It is a very good looking car from the outside and definitely got some attention. Driving the car was very comfortable, but i did need a back boost because my upper legs were shorter than the depth of the seat (I'm 5'2").
The service of Mini dealers is pretty good. They put up with a multitude of complaints from me about the steering and gave me new tires (they didn't help).
In the end, my love of not being afraid while i drove won over my love of Minis and after about 18 months I traded her in for a VW Tiguan.
Would I recommend a Countryman? Only to someone who has spent a lot of time in one before committing to buy. You need to know that this car will work for you.