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Test Drives
24 Feb 12 17:05
MINI Countryman
Panod Srisinsuphya
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Say Hello! to the newest member of the MINI family… MINI Countryman! Ever since the start of the Mini production back in 1959, Mini always has this image of being the chic 2 doors small saloon car. Ever since the year 2000 when Mini became BMW’s property things started to change in an extra ordinary way. First Mini was written in upper case, as we say like: MINI! Not only the letters everything became bigger; head lights, bigger body, cooler gadgets and interior. Then all sorts of different styles comes in, 2005 MINI Convertible, 2008 MINI Clubman with longer wheelbase, 2009 with MINI JCW or John Cooper Works, making the car look sporty, and at the same year MiINI E, the pure electric car. Then in 2010 the MINI Countryman, it still looks like a MINI, except that the name and the size doesn’t go together. Ever since the launch of the product there was many controversies going about that this car is not a MINI.

It got 5 doors, it’s an SUV, it’s HUGE, with an option of four-wheel drive, and it can go a little bit off road! The cute big eyes of an innocent baby look turns into a more of a hippopotamus. MINI might see the trend of people moving to using the SUV, trucks and such due to the unusual weather we are having.MINI Countryman for Thailand have 2 engines for you to choose, the ordinary MINI Countryman with 1.6-liter petrol engine with 122 horsepower and 160 NM of torque or the MINI Countryman S with 1.6-liter TwinScroll Turbo producing 184 horsepower and 240 NM of torque. The price: 2,590,000 THB for the base line model and 3,040,000 for the turbo version.

The one we got is the base line Cooper version. So it’s literally a mini SUV. It’s big, it’s chubby, despite all of those differences that this car has compared to the other MINIs, it still retain the MINI DNA which is the grip, sleek, fun to drive (only when sport mode), and everything is on the center console. With this car having a higher ground clearing mean that you could take this car a little bit off road, like going into the grass and feel a little bit safer during the flood.

Looking inside you gets 5 seats, with 4 seats having the function of pulling up and down to create or reduce leg room, every seat are adjustable to your liking. Despite the price of 2,590,000 THB, sad to say that the adjustments inside which are the seats, steering wheel, side view mirrors has to be adjust manually.
First of all is the engine noise, very loud! Driving it, you can get this feeling of it being a bit bloated, the back mirror is so small, barely see anything. The shades when you flip it to use the mirror, the mirror is so small. The side mirrors is also quite small, to the point that I need to look behind directly to see if I could overtake or not. The large size and a small engine makes this car feels like a pig being force to run, so slow, no feeling of being pushed into the seat, not fun to drive at all! Every time you try to accelerate, the engine will produce such a loud engine noise, like it doesn’t want to do what the driver desires.

After driving this car for the first 3 hours, all I could say was that I don’t like this car, it’s slow; it consumes a lot of fuel 8.8 km/L vigorous driving speed on high way, 10.4 km/L city driving, and 12.4 km/L high way. The equipment inside is difficult to use, you need to go over the book, and some explanations are difficult to understand. Air conditioning cools very slowly especially on a hot day, It’s 37°C outside the air conditioner is set to 23°C, after nearly an hour drive the thermometer inside the cabin readings is at 30°C. It’s hot!

Despite all these negatives about the car, one button changes everything. This car comes with Sport Mode and Traction control On/Off. Once on the high way with the Sport Mode button pressed, this pig turns into the vigorous beast. Over taking is easier, driving is extremely fun, forget the extra fuel consumption, forget the loud engine noise, difficulties in using the equipment it’s a sports car! After my perception got changed, I close the manual book, play with the console, I found the way to talk to the car, connect the phone with the car, and it made calling someone fun, like talking with a British friend. At night you have the ability to play with the car’s cabin lighting, you could adjust the colors inside the cabin to red, blue, green, purple, orange, pink, white, those colors of the rainbow, you could dim the light, brightens it up anyway you like. Maybe I start to like the car, but not petrol, not this Cooper, maybe Cooper S or the diesel, which would work more, for the efficiency, and the power. This might be the reason why you don’t see MINI Countryman on the road of Bangkok that much, due to the price, engine noise, high fuel consumption, slow acceleration, bloated size, not so great of the air conditioning, you can’t always have the Sport Mode On all the time, it’s inefficient.

If you are thinking of getting an SUV with a budget of 2-3 Million Thai Baht, I would suggest BMW X1 sDrive 1.8L, fuel consumption is a little bit better, 28 Horse Power more than the Countryman, and ~250,000 THB cheaper. Or even better choose BMW X1 sDrive 2.0 Diesel, 300,000 THB more expensive, you’ll receive 55 more horse power, very fuel efficient. If you look at the worthiness of the money you are spending, MINI Countryman Cooper is a bye, but when the diesel powered engine comes to Thailand, that’s another story.

http://www.mini.co.th/

Photos courtesy of headlightmag.com
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