FIRST impressions of the Mini Countryman are that ‘it’s not really all that mini’.
Stretching 4.11 metres in length, the Mini Countyman is expected to be the biggest car Mini ever make.
But don’t let that put you off - the Mini may have grown-up in terms of size, but it hasn’t lost any of its charisma and personality.
In fact, Mini growing-up is no bad thing because it means you don’t have to.
Now, rather than trading-in your Mini for a more sensible car because your lifestyle no longer allows the trade-offs that come with a stylish three-door hatchback, simply upgrade to a Countryman.
By producing a genuine four-seater with five doors and an airy cabin, what Mini has done is cleverly create a trendy family car for people wanting to stay loyal to the retro brand.
Open the doors and the interior is dominated by iconic design characteristics such as comfortable yet grippy optional sports seats, the trademark central speedometer and neat, funky switch packs.
New elements of Mini design language are introduced with the elliptical interior door trims that continue from the front to the rear door and back.
Also new is the Mini centre rail system which runs from front to rear down the centreline of the car and opens up all kinds of storage boxes, cup holders, power chargers, music players, mobile phones and other accessories such as a sunglasses case.
The Countyman is available in three states of 1.6-litre petrol tune: the 97bhp One, the 121bhp Cooper and the 181bhp turbocharged Cooper S. For those preferring their car in diesel form can choose from a 89bhp D and a 110bhp Cooper D.
I spent the week behind the wheel of the range-topping Cooper S four-wheel drive ALL4 spec, complete with a six-speed manual gearbox.
With 181 horses charging under its bonnet this car will take you from 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds and a top speed of 130mph.
It is nimble and agile on the road and, although not quite a fun as its younger sibling, it is still a joy to drive.
Mini claim the Countryman Cooper S ALL4 will do 42.2mpg on the combined cycle, emitting 157g/km CO2.
Although billed as a four-wheel drive vehicle, it is a front wheel drive car in most normal circumstances, but when any slip is detected on the front wheels, or if the car is driven enthusiastically, an electro-magnetic clutch, located on the rear axle, engages drive to the rear wheels to improve traction.
The Mini Countryman is not a perfect car - the bootspace is limited and some people may question its slightly oddball appearance - but if you want a family car that makes a statement, it most definitely fits the bill.
Prices for the Mini Countryman starts at £16,345 for the basic model, with the Countryman Cooper S ALL4 costing £22,505.