Overall: A not-so-mini Mini SUV? It only holds four passengers, but there’s plenty of elbowroom and gear space for everyone.
Drivetrain: For now, the Countryman sticks with its 1.6-liter turbocharged and non-turbo powerplants with up to 208 horsepower, the latter if the John Cooper Works edition is your choice.
With the recently reintroduced Clubman in the line for 2016, the Countryman is finally getting a relation that’s almost as large. The Countryman was the first four-door model in the Mini lineup and also the first to offer all-wheel-drive (called ALL4). The wagon is about six inches taller than its siblings (except the nearly identically sized Paceman) and is also four inches wider for added shoulder and elbowroom. The generously proportioned rear doors provide easy access for two adults perched atop flat-folding bucket seats (a three-place rear bench is also offered). Opening the big rear hatch gains you access to a decent-sized storage compartment. With the back seats folded, there’s about 25 percent more capacity than you’ll find inside a Mini Clubman. Each rear seat can be adjusted forward or aft up to five inches, depending on whether you need to max out passenger room or cargo space. The control panel continues Mini’s large circular-display-pod theme and contains the speedometer, fuel gauge, audio controls and the optional navigation system. The two available powerplants consist of a 121-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder for the base model, and a 181-horsepower turbocharged 1.6 in the Countryman S. Stepping up to the JCW (John Cooper Works) gets you a 207-horsepower version of the turbo engine along with all-wheel-drive. Each and every engine is connected to a six-speed manual transmission (the only way the JCW flies), or an optional six-speed automatic. During normal conditions, the rear wheels are simply along for the ride, but under hard acceleration or when encountering slippery surfaces, up to 100 percent — as in all — of the engine’s torque can be diverted to the rear wheels. For 2016, a Park Lane package includes an Earl Gray paint job and bright red and chrome interior bits.