Mini Countryman: First Four-Door Further Bastardizes Brand

Illustration for article titled Mini Countryman: First Four-Door Further Bastardizes Brand

The first four-door Mini, the Countryman, is officially here, continuing the tradition BMW started with the Clubman of watering down this beloved brand until it's almost completely unrecognizable. What's next, a Mini minivan called the "Familyman?"

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Mini starts off their press release by pointing out this car is a "genuine Crossover" and there's about as much as a hint you'll ever need to understand what this car is and isn't. A big four-door with a hatch? Yes. Tiny car with go-kart handling? Probably not.

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The Countryman is available in base Cooper, Cooper S, and Cooper D trim with the first available in FWD and the two others featuring Mini's new ALL4 all-wheel drive standard. As expected, the "D" stands for diesel and will likely not be available in the U.S.

Ignoring the diesel, the engine choices for the European model are all four-cylinder and include the smaller 1.4-liter we don't get here, the larger 1.6-liter featured in the Cooper and the 184 HP turbocharged 1.6-liter featured in the Cooper S.


Only available with four real doors and a hatch— a first for this brand — you have the choice of four bucket seats or a three-seat bench in the back.The most exciting option, if you stretch the definition of exciting, is the Mini Center Rail extending from the front of the vehicle to the rear and is designed with clip-in boxes and containers to hold various items in the larger but still small cabin. Kind of a neat trick.

We know Mini is trying to build a full range of vehicles off one iconic car, but why? If you'll remember, a FWD two-door Cooper managed to go off-road once, and, you know, win a bunch of rallies. We're not sure what this does differently from the Moke other than let them charge a lot more for it thanks to two more doors and, you know, an all-wheel-drive system. Who knows, maybe it'll be Moke-like and fun to drive like the Coopers of old.

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More likely this will just make us look upon The Italian Job remake as if those were "the good ol' days."

In the meantime, enjoy this image of the Mini Countryman achieving its goal of killing off Mini purists with its multi-door mind ray.

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Illustration for article titled Mini Countryman: First Four-Door Further Bastardizes Brand

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DISCUSSION

Matt, I understand where you are coming from as far as iconic brands. However, one can't have a product based on one model. You can't have a separate dealer network, with separate service bays and separate parts storage, in a separate stand alone building) with just one body style. It was OK when introducing the brand, but you have to offer variety. Mini started doing that with the Cabriolet, then the Clubman, and soon with this model.

Right now the original Coopers are past the saturation point, and with the expectations on ever increasing sales numbers, this isn't possible for just the 3 door, no matter how many editions, or engine types, or colors offered. This will bring in a different demographic to the showroom, one who would have never considered a Mini. Lets face it, if you have kids, the original Mini in either 3 Door or Cabriolet would never land on your shopping list. However, this might.

The Clubman? May as well put that out of its misery.