Mini has aimed for a more materially sophisticated, practical and refined feel here than you’ll find in its smaller models, the effect of which may be best described as ‘bubbling under’ in the busy, chromey, idiosyncratic but not quite uniformly well-finished cabin you find in the car.
The grey cloth trim of our test car was sombre for a Mini (as was the piano black trim over much of the fascia), but it’s wrapped around front seats that offer more adjustment than those of the firm’s lesser models, as well as a little bit more cushioning than Mini’s habitual standard.
You don’t have to sit quite so low in this car as you do in other Minis, with your legs and arms outstretched, if it doesn’t suit you. There’s plenty of head room, too, and for a Mini, this is certainly progress towards the comfort and versatility of a ‘normal’ five-seat hatch – more of it, anyway, than the Clubman offered.
The back seats afford less opportunity for adjustment, and yet there are three child-sized seats here or plenty of room for two adults if you prefer, thanks to a bench that splits and slides fore and aft by up to 130mm (as an option, unfortunately).
Even by the standards of practical and considerably more prosaic family five-doors, such as the Skoda Octavia and Vauxhall Astra, the Countryman’s interior space isn’t likely to disappoint.
Its hand remains strong in the boot, with 450 litres of space on a level with the load lip, a roomy bit of storage underneath the false floor and back seats that at once recline at various angles and also fold 40/20/40.
The optional ‘picnic bench’ leather cushion (£150) that attaches to the underside of the false floor, meanwhile, can be flopped out to make a mucky, hard rear bumper a bit more pleasant to sit on. It sounds neat, but it’s gimmicky. Since it lives under the boot floor, it is only accessible when the cargo bay is near enough empty – and on family trips and days out, we imagine that wouldn’t be very often.
The Countryman Cooper D comes with a colour navigation system and DAB radio as standard, so, unlike some of the brand’s other models, it’s not in need of further expenditure. The Media Pack should still be a popular upgrade for the car, however, combining enhanced Bluetooth with wireless charging, Mini Navigation XL and Mini Connected XL, all for £950.