SUV is short for sport utility vehicle, but how many SUVs are actually sporty? The answer is not many, but if a utility vehicle with performance pretensions is what you're after, Mini has a vehicle for you in its Cooper Countryman.
The Countryman is unchanged for its third model year following a total redesign in 2017 and last year's introduction of Mini's first hybrid model, a plug-in version of this vehicle.
Powertrain choices start out with a 1.5L three-cylinder turbo that makes 134 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. Move up to the Cooper S Countryman for a 2.0L turbo four-cylinder good for 189 hp and 207 lb-ft, and if you want a little more than that, the John Cooper Works (JCW) Countryman boosts that 2.0L to 228 hp and 258 lb-ft. All three of those engines can be paired with either six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmissions, and AWD is standard either way.
Finally, the Cooper S E Countryman PHEV derives totals of 221 hp and 284 lb-ft from its combination of the three-cylinder engine and an electric motor. Here, the automatic is the only transmission offered and AWD is standard. Mini says a full charge of the battery is good for about 19 km of all-electric driving range.
The second-generation Countryman puts Mini in the thick of the premium compact SUV segment, where it competes with vehicles like the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class and the new-for-2019 Volvo XC40. Big style is important to buyers spending big money (a $31,000 starting price is nearly $10,000 more than what you'll pay for a base model Mazda CX-3, for example), so it's handy that the Countryman shares its basic look with one of the most iconic small vehicles of all time.
Base Countryman models ride on 17-inch wheels, while the other three trims come standard with 18s. As is parent company BMW's way, a lot of stuff is optional here even though the Countryman is positioned as an upscale vehicle. Items you'll pay extra for include heated front seats and dual-zone automatic climate control, while Mini charges the relatively small amounts of $500 for an adjustable suspension and $250 for a windshield defroster.
All of this drives home the point that you're not paying extra for a Countryman to get stuff; rather, you're buying a fashion statement (albeit a useful one) that is more entertaining to drive than your typical small crossover.
Fuel consumption figures are 10.5/7.4 L/100 km (city/highway) for a Cooper Countryman with the stickshift, or 10.3/7.9 with the automatic. Cooper S Countryman estimates are 11.3/7.7 (manual) and 10.5/7.6 (automatic), and the JCW's figures are nominally higher than that. The Countryman PHEV comes in at 3.7/3.6 Le/100 when running on electricity, and 8.8/8.4 with the gas engine and electric motor working together.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed