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First Drive: MINI Cooper S Countryman Pure

First Drive: MINI Cooper S Countryman Pure

I remember first seeing a MINI Cooper in the blockbuster movie, The Italian Job, and thought to myself what a really special car it was. From its first roll out in 1959, MINI has been a fun drive and deceptively practical. And in 2010, the automotive brand launched the Countryman – the largest in the history of the MINI cars.

Fast forward to this year, MINI Malaysia introduces a new addition to its Countryman family: the S Countryman Pure. Sporting the iconic bonnet stripes and an elegant black roof, this model offers a new design language that is a lot more muscular as compared to the first generation while still staying true to its MINI roots. The chunkier look with the new angular headlights and grille won’t appeal to everyone, but we at Men’s Folio like the robust, distinctive look. It still has plenty of characters as you would expect from a car bearing the MINI badge.

It can best be described as grown up – in terms of size (20cm longer and 3cm wider) and practicality, making it ideal for young families. Combining the cheeky personality cheeky personality of the MINI hatchback with a dose of SUV style, this model is a great alternative to the regular compact luxury SUVs. I noticed during my little weekend road trip that it drove smoothly because of the well setup front-wheel drive chassis (which sits low) and rigid suspension that enabled me to be in control when taking those dangerous corners.

The steering is excellent and you can add more weight to it by putting the car into Sport mode. Under the hood rests a TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder petrol engine with 192hp that gets the car from 0 to 100km/h in 7.4 seconds, so you know there’s enough power when you need to overtake the vehicle in front. When you add comfortability into that, you have got yourself an accomplished motorway cruise. The real gem is the eight-speed automatic gearbox, albeit it does try its level best not to feel like a standard torque converter auto. The shifts are snappy and its directness is great, too. The transmission hooks up immediately with no slush.

 

Inside, it features a brilliantly built interior, and while the retro style you associate with MINI is still there, everything is so well considered. The electric seats are comfortable; the instrument cluster moves when you adjust the steering column; and it’s equipped with the new built-in 4G SIM technology MINI Connected features such as the Intelligent Emergency Call, TeleServices, MINI Online, MINI Concierge Service, the wireless Apple CarPlay and Remote Services. We particularly love the lighting on the 6.5-inch touchscreen. You have the option to move between different modes and the lighting changes accordingly (it turns green when you choose the Green Mode, while the Sports Mode gives you a racy red), adding a tad of fun to your driving experience. The boot space is as luxurious. A golf bag and two to three carry-ons can fit without any fuss. Plus, you’ll find roomy storage compartments in the door panels and generously sized cup holders. Although the compartments are limited, what you do get in spades is a feeling of quality.

Of course, there’s a trade-off for all that handling ability and various functionalities. Taking on rivals like the Audi Q2 and the Mercedes GLA, while bringing funky styling, a huge range of customisation options and a sporty chassis to the compact SUV class, the only thing holding it back is its price which starts from RM222,888. What you’re essentially paying more for is a car that has better styling. Which isn’t really a bad thing because this is not a car for those who wonder: “Is this the right car for me?” but for those who ask bigger questions like: “When can I get it be delivered to me?”

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