What is it?
The two-wheel drive diesel Mini Countryman is Mini’s answer to the biggest criticism of the turbocharged petrol versions, namely it’s 25mpg fuel economy. As the 4WD car has no switches inside to control the drive system, beyond the traction control, the interior of the 2WD versions looks exactly the same.
What’s it like?
It’s a strange reflection on the 21st-century car industry that we need to reassure buyers that they won’t notice the lack of 4WD on the school run, but the fact is that even our All4 long-term test car can be provoked into spinning the front wheels ‘at the lights’, as it doesn’t have drive to all four wheels engaged at standstill.
What proves to be more of a problem, only partly compensated by the 45mpg economy we achieved, is the diesel engine, which has a most undiesel-like lack of low-end torque and only feels like its pulling properly at 2000rpm. Combined with long gearing (20mph equals 1700rpm) in second, this means that you often have to change down into first gear to pull out confidently at junctions, even if you’re already doing 15-20mph.
Four million people in the UK now have an iPhone, so it’s worth pointing out that mine would not play music through our test car’s entertainment system, although the same phone works perfectly in the Countryman I drive every day. The only apparent difference was a lack of sat-nav in the test car.