I’ve come to the conclusion that you’re either a clean car person or you aren’t.
I know of colleagues who take an almost disturbing pleasure in getting all hot and sudsy with their vehicle, and others who prefer to wear constellations of bug splats and baked-on brake dust as badges of honour.
I thought I was in the latter camp. I used to love seeing Le Mans cars arrive at Goodwood, still scarred with rubber streaks, oil stains, and with bits of pheasant stuck in their grilles.
Now I think I’m turning to the other side and becoming a regular at the jet-wash. I enjoy getting the Mini Countryman dirty, but among the acres of gleaming metal in the Wheels car park, I’m getting filth-shamed.
Despite being grey, the Countryman is a hard car to hide in. It’s noticeably bigger than most Golf-sized hatches and on a cold morning, the diesel engine doesn’t do its stealth credentials any favours. Once warmed up, it’s a bit smoother but it’s never going to be one of those cars that has people surprised that it drinks from the black pump.
Talking of pumps, this month I’ve been using the sport mode more often and I’ve seen a bit of a dip in fuel economy, from 6.3L/100km last month to 7.3 this month. The sport mode keeps the transmission one gear lower, making it feel a good deal more responsive.
I also discovered late in the month that the tyre pressures were uniformly 3psi below placard. With a bit more air and a lighter right boot, I’m aiming to bring the fuel economy back into the sixes.
The adaptive cruise control has been a boon on the freeway, but it is prone to the odd moment of indecision and, like Ryan’s AMG E43 long termer, is occasionally prone to dropping the anchors with a perfectly clear road ahead. As with most semi-autonomous systems, it’s a case of getting to know its idiosyncrasies and in such situations, a little manual intervention pays dividends.
The head-up display, which keeps you informed of the speed limit at all times, is something that, once sampled, I’ll find hard to live without.
The Countryman has been pressed into use as a hauler of garden waste this month and has seen countless Ikea bags rammed with dead buffalo grass and soil-encrusted roots destined for the local green tip. This, and a boot load of disintegrating polystyrene, has tested my cleaning skills to the max, and researching the most effective Dyson attachments has become my life.
Thankfully, the car’s looking pretty schmick after a bit of elbow grease and exposure to the V8 Animal cordless stick. Clean cars, eh? Call me a convert.
Read part one of our 2017 Mini Countryman Cooper SD All4 long-term review here!