Oddly, it is the current Mini Clubman that should be named Mini Countryman, given that the original 1961 Austin Mini Countryman was a two-door estate.


The Countryman was notable particularly for the wooden inserts fitted to top-spec models to give it a visual link to the Morris Minor estate. But instead of a Mini estate, the Countryman name now represents a model that is not only the brand’s first-ever SUV but also its first four-wheel-drive vehicle.

The last time a Mini gained a four-metre-long, four-door sister model in its manufacturer’s range, it was 1969, a decade after the original model’s inception. Back then, the four-door in question was Alex Issigonis’s last design and the car was called (partly in homage to its smaller forebear) not Mini, but Maxi. This time around the sister model is still being called a Mini, with Countryman attached as a passing suffix. However, this modern-day ‘Maxi’ is built more than a thousand miles away from its UK-built Mini brethren at Magna Steyr’s plant in Graz, Austria.

What the Countryman does represent, however, is the biggest stretch yet for Mini – for the car and the brand. Never before had a Mini ventured to this size or level of practicality, in an effort to catch a new audience – or, perhaps, to retain a customer base that might otherwise grow out of its cars. It would be fair to say this exercise in targetting what the customer wants rather sticking to traditions has benefitted the brand, as the 5-door hatch will testify.

What has also increased is the price, though that doesn’t necessarily reflect a change of attitude; the modern Mini has long demanded a price beyond its size. It’s not at all hard to get a Countryman out of the showroom doors at a price of around £30,000 if you plunder the lengthy options list. However, it’s also possible to get a reasonably-equipped model for far less. Although, expect to get large discounts on the first generation as its production runs down before the launch of the second generation in 2017.

The range is vast, though, with two- and four-wheel drive versions, three petrol and two diesel engines, but a huge selection of trim and option pack varieties. 

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Top 5 Premium hatches

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Mini range

Driven this week

  • BMW X3
    Car review
    19 January 2018
    The stakes have never been higher for BMW’s mid-sized SUV, now the X3 in its third generation. So can it deliver?
  • Nissan Leaf
    First Drive
    19 January 2018
    Better looks, better value, better range, stronger performance and a quiet and relaxing drive make the Nissan Leaf a leading EV contender again
  • Volkswagen Up GTI
    First Drive
    18 January 2018
    Funky, light, enjoyable and even reasonably priced, the Volkswagen Up GTI is a car to be appreciated on its own compelling terms
  • Skoda Fabia 1.0 TSI 110 Redline
    First Drive
    18 January 2018
    Our first flavour of the 1.0 TSI-engined Skoda Fabia on UK roads shows it’s versatile but not all that sporty
  • Ford Ecosport 1.0 Ecoboost 125 Zetec front
    First Drive
    18 January 2018
    Can the updated Ford Ecosport improve its reputation and become the small SUV of choice, or is it another misguided effort from the Blue Oval?