The New Countryman: Can Something Big Still Be Mini?

You’re looking at the biggest Mini production model ever. Cue groans from traditionalists and a few extra rpm on the Issigonis headstone tacho: the new, second-gen Countryman is a full 20cm longer than its predecessor, as it graduates to full SUV status.

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That means more interior space (you’d hope so), and a much bigger 450-litre boot. Aided by split ’n’ slide rear seats with tilting backrests, that’s a 220-litre improvement over its predecessor, although still 55 litres shy of the BMW X1 with which the new Countryman shares much of its architecture.

Apart from being the first Mini with decent-sized rear door openings, Countryman: The Sequel will also be the first to feature a touchscreen, and the first to be available as a plug-in hybrid.

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Catchily called the Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4, the hybridised variant will pull its front wheels with a 1.5-litre 3-cyl turbo petrol, and push its rears with an 87bhp electric motor. A total system output of 221bhp makes for a surprisingly brisk 6.9sec 0-62mph time and a total electric-only range of 25 miles, at the expense of a slightly smaller boot to make space for the electric motor, and slightly higher seats to accommodate the battery.

Divided into Cooper and Cooper S trims, the bread-and-butter Countryman models get a choice of 1.5-litre 3-cyl and 2.0-litre 4-cyl petrol engines and 2.0-litre 4-cyl diesels, with front-drive the norm and all-wheel drive an option across the range. Sat-nav, Bluetooth and cruise control are standard.

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To get into a base three-pot manual Cooper you’ll need £22,465, stretching to nearly £30k for a top Cooper SD diesel with all the trimmings. The plug-in joins the range a little later, with prices still TBC. First deliveries start February 2017.

LOOK, NO HANDS

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Electric tailgate is an option, with touch-free opening and closing. Also an option: the ‘Mini Picnic Bench’ fold-out sill cushion

COUNTRY TIMER?

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Mini hatches get a ‘go-kart’ cartoon; SUV gets a terrain data-logger, gradually growing into a monster truck with miles as you reach, erm, ‘Cliff Champ’ status

‘MINI FIND MATE’

Sounds like a dating app, actually a way of keeping track of Bluetooth-tagged luggage. Forget a bag and the car’s nav can guide you to it

MY, HOW YOU’VE GROWN

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Longer by 20cm and wider by 3cm than its predecessor. Countryman Mk2 cuts a more angular styling jib than any New Mini yet

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