Mini introduced the Countryman in 2011 as its solution for folks who wanted more space (and doors) than were available on the Cooper hardtop. Over the past six years, the world of compact crossovers exploded, and the rest of the Mini fleet has grown as well. Hell, even the new Clubman dwarfed the Countryman when it debuted last year. The biggest Mini lost one of its key selling points: its size.
Mini dipped into its parent company's lineup and borrowed BMW's X1 platform for the new Mini. This new Countryman takes back the biggest Mini title from the Clubman, but the difference is only 1.5 inches. That means the biggest Mini ever is still 1.8 inches smaller than a current-gen Ford Focus hatchback. Despite its still small size, the new Countryman dwarfs last year’s model. The new Mini is 8.1 inches longer, 1.3 inches wider and 0.3 inch taller.
Reducing that number soup to something meaningful: The Countryman is bigger in every way, which means more space in the cabin for people. In the front, there’s no trouble stuffing my 6-foot frame behind the wheel. There is also enough space in the sliding rear seats for my knees and head.
Mini’s latest infotainment system is now nestled inside the massive illuminated circle in the center of the dash. Borrowed from parent company BMW, the media controller knob spins to select letters for typing an address into the navigation system, alternately you can write on the dial like a tiny chalkboard. It's a cool feature, but it loses its charm after getting the letters wrong too many times.