Countryman. That must be a vehicle for the out-of-town then. And with four-wheel drive, the odd adventure too.
The adventure we dream up for this biggest-ever Mini is to take it to the site of a distant piece of Mini history, our aim being to find the factory – or its remains - where glassfibre versions of the original car were made in Chile from 1969-73.
And we’re also hoping to find a plastic-bodied survivor, too. The ‘we’ is photographer Paul Harmer and myself, plus a white Mini Countryman Cooper S All4 and for much of time, a pair of spare wheels on the floor in the back, proving that a Mini Countryman is decisively bigger than a Mini.
Firm ride apart, the fastest big Mini makes quite a good device for spearing into the desert, large enough to ride the PanAmerican Highway in comfort, small enough to negotiate tight desert tracks and grippy enough, with its four-wheel drive, to ascend hills of dirt, gravel and dust.
And there’s one climb in particular that takes us to an altitude sickness-inducing 4000 metres, after which we hit the Argentinian border – which we cross just because we can.
What we haven’t planned on is not recrossing it, our re-entry into Chile severely hampered by a misunderstanding that has Harmer attempting to open the barrier of this remote border post himself, a manoeuvre that rapidly produces three very unhappy border guards who take our passports, and appear to have plenty of time to inspect them.
We don’t speak much Spanish, but they have enough English to comprehend a bit of light grovelling,and we’re willing to make that heavy, because we suddenly feel like we’re an awfully long way from civilisation.
That the helpful Chilean family, who looked like they were going to cross the border into Argentina with us decided against it, only makes our problem seem more acute.
Resisting the sudden Tourette’s-like desire to mouth ‘Malvinas’, we smile and grovel a little more before the least angry guard suddenly decides to lift the barrier for us.
We’re released onto a long, dirt-road return to civilisation across some of the most lonely – and beautiful – terrain I’ve had the privilege of seeing. You can get a flavour of it from Mr Harmer’s fine pix – and the story in this week’s magazine.