You may by no means confuse this automotive for the rest, besides one other Mini, perhaps.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Mini’s Oxford trims are supposed to present nice worth for brand new automotive buyers with out breaking the financial institution. New for 2021, the Mini Countryman Oxford Version wraps these efforts in a compact SUV shell, giving patrons additional area and not using a vital footprint. Hassle is, if you strip away the fripperies that Mini shoehorns into its costlier variants and begin evaluating it to the competitors, what stays would not precisely really feel like a fantastic worth.

Like

Distinctive aestheticsDecently roomy

Do not Like

Incorrigible nickel and dimingAsthmatic inline-3Uncomfortable experience

The 2021 Mini Countryman is a unusual little factor. In a world of ever-sharpening creases and aggressive styling, the Mini’s Hardtop-but-stung-by-a-bee curvature gives a friendlier aesthetic various. The headlights are anime-character massive and the Union Jack design within the taillights is enjoyable. The Oxford Version rides on 18-inch wheels (the bottom mannequin will get 17s), making the entire shebang look rather less entry-level than it’s.

Inside, the Countryman’s aesthetics once more separate it from the pack, however on the similar time, it feels a bit meh for a automotive carrying a $30,000 price ticket. Not one of the softer plastics really feel notably premium, however they do a fantastic job at selecting up and holding onto extra mud than more durable supplies typically would. The huge swath of trim throughout the center layer of the dashboard appears cool on costlier variants, however the Oxford’s shiny grey piece appears form of uninteresting and low-cost. It is higher than piano black, although, as a result of this one at the very least hides fingerprints higher. Then there’s the aviation-style switchgear, which can ceaselessly stay probably the most rewarding toggles to flip within the auto business.

Regardless of its small kind issue, the Countryman is decently purposeful. The tray forward of the cup holders is sweet for stashing a cellphone or a masks, whereas an uncovered tray below the armrest is sizable sufficient for a small purse. Visibility is strong, too, due to tall glass and styling that does not sacrifice a lot for a beautiful roofline. The Countryman’s form additionally means there’s ample inside area for adults throughout each rows.

The 2021 Mini Countryman isn’t with out its drawbacks, although. The cargo space has a low load flooring, which is good, however its total capability of 17.6 cubic toes behind the second row lags behind practically each possible competitor, from premium choices just like the Volvo XC40 (20.7 cu. ft.) to mass-market subcompacts just like the Kia Soul (24.2) and Hyundai Kona (19.2). The one USB-A port up entrance smashes your cable in opposition to no matter’s within the cup holders. The inside door handles are the alternative of ergonomic, a function I’ve disliked from the start. Maybe most galling, although, is the second-row heart armrest, which does not exist and not using a $850 Comfort Package deal that is not even obtainable on the bottom trim. 

BMW’s dedication to squeeze each milliliter of blood from the stones which are its prospects’ wallets extends to the Mini Countryman’s in-car tech. As a younger, strapping new-car purchaser, maybe you’ve got heard of those little issues referred to as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Maybe you’ve got seen that they are now customary tools in a staggering variety of new automobiles throughout the socioeconomic spectrum. Whereas the Oxford Version does provide an 8.8-inch touchscreen show that is bigger than the usual 6.5-inch getup, you may’t get it with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or navigation. It’s going to nonetheless play music out of your app of alternative by way of USB or Bluetooth, however should you’re driving someplace unfamiliar, you are caught attempting to stare at a tiny Google Maps display screen down within the cup holder. Contemplating you get CarPlay customary in a Chevrolet Spark, Mini’s determination to lock value-seeking patrons out of a typically very important technological inclusion is, frankly, silly and pointless; positive, it is obtainable on different trims, which makes the omission right here really feel solely pointless. The huge, LED-bedecked round bezel across the display screen makes it exhausting to press the tiny icons alongside the touchscreen’s edges, however typically, this iteration of BMW’s iDrive software program is okay.

Because the Oxford Version is supposed as a no-haggle, what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of trim, security techniques are restricted to probably the most notable ones. This Countryman comes customary with forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking and rear parking sensors. If you would like entry to adaptive cruise management, a head-up show or self-parking help, you will have to maneuver to a costlier trim and throw a $1,250 bundle into the combination. When you’re searching for lane-departure warning, lane-keeping help or blind-spot monitoring, you will have to have a look at a special automotive solely.

The Mini’s inside hasn’t modified an excessive amount of over time.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

That leaves us with the driving expertise. Guess what? That is underwhelming, too. The Countryman Oxford’s sole engine providing is the bottom 1.5-liter inline-3 that produces 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. It’s going to generate sufficient oomph to dart via city visitors with ease, however it feels lifeless under the belt in wider-open suburban and exurban settings. Always sounding as if it is performing below duress, this three-banger doesn’t just like the freeway, and even one thing so simple as accelerating from 70 to 80 mph requires planning. The state of affairs is dire even on paper, with my all-wheel-drive tester set to achieve 60 mph in a leisurely 9.6 seconds.

The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is at its greatest when it would not want to vary gears; pushing off from a stoplight feels clunky, deceleration incurs low-speed driveline vibrations and the stop-start system is so annoyingly apparent that I am keen to pay the additional fuel cash to maintain it off completely. It is not very environment friendly, both, providing simply 23 miles per gallon metropolis and 32 mpg freeway because it tries to shove round 3,300-plus kilos with 4 pushed wheels. Oh, and it requires premium gasoline.

Possibly the experience is OK? Nah, fam. In its personal web site copy, Mini refers back to the Oxford Version’s mounted suspension as “super-tight,” which is correct to the good thing about no person. The Countryman is perennially stiff, transferring all method of bumps and humps on to the occupants’ skeletons, and in city areas the place the inline-3 thrives, which means the experience will nearly at all times be uncomfortable. Certain, its dealing with is flat as a pancake, which might make for some thrilling instances on curvy roads, however not when an engine this weak has to maneuver this a lot mass with a transmission that’s loath to behave with any diploma of haste.

Mini’s little three-cylinder engine could also be fantastic in purely city environments, however as soon as the roads open up, it is exhausting for this little man to keep up tempo.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

I might forgive a variety of this if the 2021 Countryman Oxford really offered a strong worth, however BMW’s affect bleeds into the worth, too. Together with $850 in vacation spot prices, my all-wheel-drive tester rings in at $29,350, which I really feel is about $4,000 too excessive given what you may’t get. Sure, there may be some worth inherent in among the customary tools, which incorporates automated local weather management, heated entrance seats and the bigger touchscreen, however if you line this wannabe-premium providing up in opposition to mass-market subcompact rivals just like the Hyundai Kona or Mazda CX-30, it is exhausting to suggest the Mini when its rivals provide a lot extra. Barely costlier base-trim variants of the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class and Volvo XC40 really feel much more totally baked, too, even when the window sticker asks a bit extra out of your paycheck.

That is the difficulty with the 2021 Mini Countryman. Even in its Oxford Version trim, attempting to face out from the group is not sufficient to outweigh an undermotivated powertrain and unusual function packaging with some very notable omissions. When you merely should worm your method into the BMW life-style earlier than possessing the monetary means to place a Roundel in your storage, the Countryman will serve its mission, however if you take a wide range of different components (and automobiles) under consideration, its luster fades shortly.

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