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What’s the used Mini Countryman like?

This review for What’s the used Mini Countryman like? was sourced from Which Car?


What’s the used Mini Countryman like?  Copyright © 2017

What’s the used Mini Countryman like?

Need more space than a Mini hatchback can offer? That’s where the Mini Countryman comes in.

When it was launched in 2010, the intention was to provide a car with the fashionable styling and huge range of personalisation options that had made the Mini so popular, but stretched and inflated into a larger body with SUV-ish styling cues that made it better suited to families, so that young couples who had enjoyed their Minis could trade up when kids came along.

Mini attempted to endow the Countryman with the same feel as its smaller stablemate, an aim to which it’s sharp steering, quick turn-in and impressive body control are a testament. The news gets even better with the All4 version, whose four-wheel drive offers a tonne of traction. All of which means that the Countryman is pretty good to drive, for an SUV at least.

The problem is, to keep that tall body in shape, Mini had to fit the Countryman with pretty firm suspension – and that means you’ll feel most of the knobbles and lumps in the road surface, which can grow tiresome on a long trip. What’s more, it isn’t the most family-friendly car out there – while it’s more spacious than a Mini, there are other SUVs that’ll knock it into a cocked hat for space and versatility.

In other words, the Countryman is a car to buy with your heart over your head. If you’re after a fashionable image, funky styling and sharp handling, you’ll love it. But if you’re looking for something practical, comfortable, spacious and sensible, there are better options out there.

Ownership costs

What used Mini Countryman will I get for my budget?mini-countryman-cooper-sd-2012-red-rear

If you’re happy to live with a high mileage or a Category C/D write-off, you can pick up a Mini Countryman for as little as £5500 these days. If you want to find a tidy, low-mileage example with a full-service history and average mileage, though, you’ll need to pay rather more than that – £6500 is about the right starting price for an entry-level 1.6-litre petrol.

Diesel models fetch a little more, as do the four-wheel-drive All4 variants, while if you’re looking for the faster Cooper S model, you’ll need to up your budget to at least £8000.

The Countryman was given a very subtle facelift in 2014, and these updated models now start at around £11,000 for a well cared-for, average-mileage petrol example.

How much does it cost to run a Mini Countryman?

Not too much – the Countryman’s range of engines looks pretty economical. Whether you choose a petrol or a diesel version, fuel consumption compares favourably with rivals, and as a result, the tax is reasonable too.

What’s more, servicing costs aren’t extortionate – you’ll pay less to service the Mini than you will the equivalent Skoda Yeti or Nissan Juke.

Advice for buyers

Used car dealers in Bristol

What’s the used Mini Countryman like? Copyright © 2017

What should I look for in a used Mini Countryman?

There are a few build quality issues to be aware of with the Mini Countryman – for example, the faux chrome – which is actually just a silver finish on plastic – can peel, and alloy wheels can show corrosion in the form of bubbling. Keep an eye out for these as you look around the bodywork.

If you’re looking at an All4 model with a manual gearbox, make sure you pay close attention to the clutch bite point. They have a habit of wearing their clutches out early, so if the one you’re test-driving is worn, make sure you factor in the price of a replacement in when you’re negotiating on price.

To date, there has been one recall affecting the Countryman, specifically models built between August 2010 and March 2013. This involved replacing part of the wiring harness with one fitted with better connector seals after it was discovered that moisture could enter the connectors and cause them to overheat, resulting in a fire.

What are the most common problems with a used Mini Countryman?

Petrol Countrymen have been known to suffer from stretching timing chains if they’re run low on oil. Therefore it pays to keep checking the oil regularly, as a replacement timing chain is an expensive repair. If you detect a rattling noise from the engine, it could be a sign the chain is about to snap – get it checked immediately and avoid driving the car, as if it does snap, it’ll cause significant engine damage.

Another reason to check the oil level regularly is that Countrymen are known to suffer from oil leaks, often from the oil pump solenoid valve. It’s worth keeping an eye on leaks from this area and getting them rectified as soon as possible, as the drips have been known to contaminate electrical components, resulting in costly repairs.

Is a used Mini Countryman reliable?mini-countryman-cooper-sd-2012-red-door-trim

There’s very little statistical data available on the Countryman specifically, but many of its more common problems are costly to fix. What’s more, the Mini Cooper hatchback got a below-average score in the What Car? Reliability Index, while in the JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study of 2016, Mini as a whole finished sixth from bottom. In other words, it looks like there are more reliable options out there.

Our recommendation

Which used Mini Countryman should I buy?

If you’re on a budget, the basic Mini Countryman One is worth considering, but it doesn’t come with much standard equipment, so it’s worth upgrading to the Cooper model if your money will stretch that far. The sporty Cooper S versions are great fun and highly recommended, but keep in mind that they’re aimed at hot hatch buyers, and their greater power means higher fuel consumption.

If you don’t need the pace of a Cooper S, then, the standard Cooper should be all you ever need. But the problem is, it doesn’t stop there – Minis are famed for their extensive options list, and many owners added options packs, the most popular being the Salt, Pepper and Chili packs, which added increasing amounts of equipment.

You’ll also find plenty of Countrymen out there which were specified with one of the myriad paint options. These can include black or white roofs, bonnet stripes and coloured alloy wheels. It’s worth bearing in mind that it’s a legal requirement to declare all these optional extras to your insurance company, so make sure you get a quote before buying.

Unless you do high mileages, we’d stick with the petrol versions of the Countryman. They’re generally a touch less mechanically complex than the diesel, and no less easy to find; what’s more, they’re generally cheaper to buy and have done fewer miles. And unless you really need four-wheel drive, we’d stick with the standard two-wheel-drive model, as it’s more economical.

Our favourite Mini Countryman: 2.0 Cooper

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