IT started innocuously enough.
The key fob button for the Mini Countryman’s motorised rear hatch had suffered a fit of pique and obstinately refused to function.
If you’ve been following my experience with Mini’s plus-size model, you’ll know that the rear hatch has taken a dislike to me, acting all innocent and then lunging at the back of my head if given the opportunity. I’ve wised up to that particular stunt but the car has now adopted an even more dastardly tack.
Returning to the vehicle after locking it in a busy shopping-centre carpark, I gazed across the serried rows of vehicles to spot the Countryman with the rear hatch raised to the skies in a triumphant ‘screw you!’ salute. I wondered how long it had been sitting there like that and was relieved to find my laptop and jacket had remained resolutely unstolen.
A week later it did it again, this time fortunately in the secure office car park. By this point, I’d taken care not to leave anything worth stealing in the vehicle, but it’s far from ideal.
These electrical glitches have put me on my guard a little, but the Countryman’s infectious personality otherwise makes it an easy car to get along with. It just has an evil tailgate and that’s something I have to take as part of the package.
It’s like my neighbour’s kitten; a lovely little thing until it craps in your shoe. But you just can’t stay mad at it for too long.
The Mini Countryman has also endeared itself to the tightwad in me. After vowing not to drive it everywhere in sport mode, fuel use on the last tank improved to 5.3L/100km which isn’t at all bad for an all-wheel drive almost-SUV.
I think I’ve even got Kirby’s Kia Picanto pipped as the most economical vehicle on the Wheels fleet. It’s almost as if we’re acting as the offset program for Ponchard’s V8 Mustang but I reckon the good ol’ boy Ford would grate on you a long time before the Countryman.
Knowing that I can return the car after four months means that the downsides of Countryman ownership are easier to shrug off.
If I’d forked out $56K for one, I’d probably be less sanguine about its peccadilloes. The most annoying thing is that I know I’d still genuinely like the car. Against all my better judgment and diligently curated prejudices, I’m sold on the thing. Your mileage may vary.
Never mind the polar opposite of consumption between the Mini and Ponch’s Mustang; there’s no contest when it comes to audio quality, the Mini’s 10-speaker Harman Kardon set-up being the antithesis to the Mustang’s Shaker system.
The audio quality is great, but it could really do with a bit more grunt. All too frequently, I find that I’m at maximum volume and there’s zero distortion, fuzz or flutter from the speakers. The spec sheet says 360 watts but it feels as if the DSP amplifier could benefit from a few additional ponies.
Read part two of our 2017 Mini Countryman Cooper SD All4 long-term review here!