I don’t know exactly who or what pissed into the 2017 Mini Countryman’s cornflakes, but whatever it was, it had a bladder full of redolent, dark urine. There’s just no other way to explain why Mini would design a car that looks so miserable and disgusted as the new Countryman.
Look at the face on that thing. It hates you. Actually, it doesn’t just hate you—that’s a face that says the Mini is disgusted by your very being. Just the whole sweaty, fuzzy mass of you. This new Mini wants no part of that shit, got it?
I’m baffled by the styling direction Mini is taking here. They’re inherently a retro brand, and they have a fantastic source touchstone for their fundamental design, the original Mini. Let’s look at the bulldog face of the OG Mini here:
Okay, now let’s look at how they originally re-interpreted and modernized this basic face when they translated the design vocabulary into a larger crossover format, back in 2010:
It’s a little labored, but it works pretty well, really. It’s clearly descended from the original Mini, but feels modern and has just enough extra rugged toughness baked in. It essentially feels like a more buff Mini.
The Countryman S had a different fascia. It started down the road of being grimace-y, although this one looks more confused than anything else.
This most recent version, though, holy shit. What happened to this Mini? What did people do to it? Who hurt it so?
I don’t understand what they’re doing here at all. How did the designers of this car never step back and look at that face and think “Shit. We have to redo this. Nobody wants to walk out to their car everyday and see something that looks like it wishes they were dead.”
It’s frowning. Like, an obvious, grimace-frown. The headlight/eyes have been misshapen into squinting, judgmental blobs, and those DRLs are radiating more contempt than light.
Our own Justin Westbrook likened the car to the famous Grumpy Cat, and that’s a pretty decent analogue; this thing does seem to have the face and demeanor of the internet’s face of feline revulsion.
I suspect they were hoping to keep the Mini from being too cute or friendly, which automakers seem to have decided is the worst atrocity a human can commit, for some unknowable reason.
So, to avoid a face that may be guilty of making people feel welcome or happy, they’ve taken the route all fundamentally insecure beings use when they want a quick path to seeming tough: stay angry all the time.
Mini, you have such a fantastic lineage of design, and this is the shit you’re pulling? The fundamental characteristic of Mini has always been a determined sort of fun pluck. Little Minis kicking ass in the Monte Carlo rallies, determined and undaunted by the opponents that dwarf them.
That’s what a Mini’s face should show, not the expression someone would give you when you offer them a vinegar-soaked otter turd on a Captain’s Wafer.
Nobody wants to be treated this way by their own car. Time to start working on a facelift for this mug, pals.