Mini's new Countryman compact SUV is due in Australia in February.
Mini's new Countryman compact SUV is due in Australia in February. Drive

Countryman riding into town

MINI'S high-riding Countryman is due to hit showrooms in late February, with pricing for the new high-riding four-door variant starting from less than $40,000.

Longer, wider and taller than its Mini stablemates - for comparison's sake, it's about the size of a Suzuki SX4 hatch - the chunky, rugged looking Countryman is Mini's first four-door car, and offers more interior space and a choice of rear seat configurations for two or three occupants.

Countryman prices range between $37,700 and $50,400 (plus costs), with a choice of two petrol (Cooper, Cooper S) and one diesel (Cooper D) versions, as well as Mini's optional ALL4 all-wheel-drive system (priced at $2900 - not available on the base-model Cooper).

Three familiar 1.6-litre engines will be on offer including two petrol units (one of them turbocharged) and a turbo diesel, albeit with slightly blunted performance and higher fuel use and CO2 emissions due to the bigger-bodied Countryman's increased weight.

Opening the range is a 90kW/160Nm 1.6-litre four-cylinder Cooper Countryman (priced at $37,700), which delivers its power to the front wheels only. The entry-level six-speed manual Countryman will reach 100km/h from a standstill in 10.5 seconds (11.6 seconds for the six-speed automatic). Fuel consumption is claimed at 6.0 litres per 100 kilometres, while CO2 emissions are 140 grams per kilometre (auto: 7.2L and 168g).

Buyers wanting all-paw grip will need to outlay at least $43,850 — and wait until at least May — for the 82kW/270Nm turbo diesel-powered Cooper D ALL4. Despite a slower sprint time of 10.9 seconds, the oil-burning Countryman has a claimed fuel figure of 4.4L/100km (115g/km of CO2).

There's a cheaper front-wheel-drive Cooper D, too ($40,950), and all diesel Countrymans are available with an optional six-speed automatic transmission (a $2350 added cost for all Countryman models). Diesel versions are likely to gain fuel-saving technologies including stop-start and an optimum gearshift indicator.

With its twin-scroll turbocharger, the Cooper S Countryman delivers a handy 135kW of power and 240Nm (which can briefly increase to 260Nm under bursts of acceleration). The two-wheel-drive Cooper S version is priced at $47,500.

When fitted with all-wheel-drive ($50,400), the Cooper S can dash from 0-100km/h in 7.6 seconds (auto: 7.9) - some 0.3 seconds slower than the front-drive version - while using 6.1L/100km and 143g/km CO2 (auto: 7.1L and 166g).

Importantly for family buyers, the Countryman's boot capacity is still tight at 350 litres, but can be expanded to 1170L with the back seats folded - that's relatively large in comparison to the Cooper hatchback's less-than-capacious 160 and 680 litre volumes.

All Countryman models are also available with Mini's optional Chilli package (which includes extras such as climate control, auto-dipping rear-view mirror, Harman Kardon audio, bigger wheels and sports seats), and buyers can expect a wide range of interior and exterior customisation options.

The new Mini Countryman will be built in Austria, making it the first Mini to be manufactured outside the UK.