- 2020 MINI Countryman starts at $31,690 before freight and delivery charges.
- Refreshed John Cooper Works Countryman boasts 301 horsepower, is a hoot to drive.
- Low on advanced safety features, some cheap interior plastics, pricey JCW and PHEV variants.
In a sea of bland, unexciting cars and crossovers, it’s nice to see that there are still brands out there that cater to those who want something different. The 2020 MINI Countryman is the perfect example of a unique and anything-but-boring crossover vehicle.
With a base price of $31,690 before freight and delivery charges, it positions itself as a premium model over the Nissan Qashqai, Mazda CX-30, Chevrolet Trailblazer, Subaru Crosstrek, Mitsubishi RVR, Hyundai Kona and other subcompact crossovers, while being more affordable than luxury-brand models such as the Audi Q3, the BMW X1, the Mercedes-Benz GLA, the Cadillac XT4 and the Volvo XC40.
This second-generation model has been around since the 2017 model year, and for 2020, it receives a few updates to keep it fresh. The biggest news is the revised MINI John Cooper Works Countryman edition, which gets a new turbocharged, 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that develops 301 horsepower—up from 228—and 331 pound-feet of torque—up from 258. According to the brand, the JCW can now blast from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.1 seconds, making it 1.5 seconds quicker than previous model years.
The John Cooper Works edition also benefits from upgraded brakes, new chassis and engine mounts as well as a new engine cooling system to cope with the extra cavalry under the hood. The ALL4 all-wheel drive system has also been revised for greater robustness, and as before, sends power to the front wheels under normal driving conditions. When wheel slippage occurs, engine torque is sent to the rear wheels.
Other changes to the 2020 MINI Countryman include LED fog lamps and LED headlights for the Cooper S Countryman, revisions to the various option packages and the deletion of the manual transmission across the board—although the stick is scheduled to return for the 2021 model year in select trim levels.
The base Cooper Countryman gets a turbocharged, 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine that develops 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque, while the Cooper S Countryman benefits from a turbo 2.0-litre four, good for 189 hp and 207 lb.-ft. Aside from these two tamer variants and the fire-breathing JCW, there’s also the Cooper SE Countryman plug-in hybrid, whose powertrain consists of the 1.5L three-cylinder engine, an electric motor and a six-speed automatic, for a combined output of 224 hp.
Why You Should Buy a 2020 MINI Countryman
- The Countryman is different, with a cheery exterior design and a unique cockpit layout. If we’re in the market for a subcompact crossover and we’re willing to spend a little more a month for something out of the ordinary, this MINI is worth a look.
- It’s one of the most entertaining crossovers to drive. Definitely more fun than anything else under the $40K mark.
- There’s ample room for four passengers in the MINI Countryman, and cargo space, rated at 450 litres with the rear seats up and 1,390 litres with the seatbacks folded, is about average in the subcompact crossover segment.
- Despite the standard all-wheel drivetrain on every trim level, fuel economy is quite good, with a combined city/highway average of 8.6 L/100 km for the base Cooper, 9.0 L/100 km for the Cooper S and 9.1 for the John Cooper Works Countryman.
- The MINI JCW Countryman with its new 301-hp engine is not only fast, but handles well too, despite its crossover body style and weight. It gets a huge performance gain over previous JCW editions.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy a 2020 MINI Countryman
- Although some advanced safety driving aids are available, such as forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control, other now-common features such as blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking and lane keep assist are not offered at all. Some much cheaper competitors now include many of these features as standard.
- The plug-in hybrid MINI Countryman, or Cooper SE, provides emissions-free motoring, but not that much. As a matter of fact, its EV-only driving range is estimated at 29 kilometres, which isn’t spectacular. When the battery pack is depleted, the Cooper SE’s combined city/highway fuel economy figure is pegged at 8.0 L/100 km. Given the $44,590 base price, the PHEV version isn’t particularly interesting.
- The JCW Countryman is undoubtedly fun, but its base price of $43K is far from accessible. Our JCW tester also included about $10K worth of options, which places it head-to-head with more prestigious high-performance models such as the BMW X2 M35i (which has the same powertrain, by the way) and the Mercedes-AMG GLA 35, not to mention being only a couple thousand dollars away from a base Porsche Macan.
- The interior design of the 2020 MINI Countryman is swell, but there are some hard, hollow-sounding plastics spread across the cabin that don’t quite seem right in a vehicle of this price.
- Although the MINI Countryman is slowing climbing in Consumer Reports and J.D. Power rankings, its reliability reputation still needs improving, and buyers should expect luxury-brand levels of maintenance costs once the initial free scheduled maintenance period is over.
The 2020 MINI Countryman is an attractive little crossover vehicle in addition to being fun to drive and practical. It’s definitely something different on the market, and an interesting choice for those who try to avoid bland, boring vehicles that seem to have become the norm these days.
However, the Countryman isn’t the cheapest crossover to maintain over the long run, and it’s best to choose the Cooper or Cooper S variants for their affordable price tags. In addition, one must not be too concerned with advanced safety features, because MINIs don’t have many of them.