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The Biggest Mini!

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On: Tue, May 24, 2011 at 7:57AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

The Biggest Mini!

It seems that carmakers these days want to make sure they explore every avenue imaginable. They want to see that there is a car to fit every need, want, or even whim. We have all-wheel drive Ferraris, Porsche SUVs, and even four hundred horsepower Jeeps; there really is something for everyone. And now, there's one more option out there for those that have been dreaming of it:  The Mini Cooper Countryman S All4.  

Don't be mistaken, this car, err, truck, er, uh... crossover... yeah, crossover is still a Mini. It runs with the same 1.6-liter inline four cylinder 181-horsepower engine as the standard Cooper, the same six-speed manual gearbox, same big tachometer front and center, and has the same standard Cooper's quirky personality. The only real difference is that the Countryman S All4 is bigger by two doors and taller by a few inches. The only other big difference is that the All4 runs through... you guessed it... all four wheels instead of the traditional two Coopers have been accustomed to.

Obviously this gives the Countryman a bit more heft (3255 pounds), but it doesn't seem to be enough to be extremely detrimental. 60 mph comes up in a not-too-shabby 7.3 seconds while the quarter mile breezes by in a respectable 15.7 seconds (not bad considering this is a four door big car/small truck). Handling is a down a couple ticks due to the physics of being a bigger car, but it still gets 0.86g on the skidpad. Braking is also incredibly impressive getting from 60-0 in only 113 feet.

The one stat that may have people really considering the Countryman S is the fact that this heavy hauler gets 25/31 city/highway miles per gallon. This kind of mileage outperforms just about everything else in its class, whatever class that may be. It beats most gasoline engines, and although it comes up a little short versus something like a Ford Escape Hybrid in terms of city driving, it more than makes up for it with its nimbleness and acceleration.

The new BMW X3 might have the Countryman beat in most performance categories, but then Mini gets much better mileage and comes in at least ten grand cheaper. But then maybe the Countryman All4 is closer in comparison to something like an Audi A3 or VW Golf? But even then, it's a four-passenger four door competing with mostly five-passenger competition. Also, with a base price of $27,650, the biggie Cooper is in a precarious price point that, depending on options, could make or break its success in the niche market it has seemingly created for itself.

It seems that is the point these days with carmakers, if there is an open segment that can be filled, then fill it. But the bigger question with cars... er... trucks... or whatever, like the Mini Cooper Countryman S All4 is, now that we have it, are there enough people that really want a bigger Mini?

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