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2018 Mini Cooper SD Countryman India review, test drive

13th Nov 2018 7:00 am

The petrol version of the new Countryman impressed us, but can the new ‘SD’ diesel version do the same?

  • Make : Mini
  • Model : Countryman

What is it?

The second-generation Mini Countryman does a better job of its brief than its predecessor. This time around there is genuinely enough space and practicality for it to work credibly as a luxury SUV for the family. It’s still incredibly fun to drive, and if that’s your priority, the petrol Cooper S (which we drove earlier in the year) would suit you best, but if practicality and sensibility is your focus, perhaps you’d be more interested in this diesel Cooper SD.

Mini Countryman SD front

What’s most interesting about the Countryman is, because unlike the other Minis, it is locally assembled and not imported, you can’t customise them or choose any options – you get a fixed spec for each of the three variants with varying levels of equipment, and all you get to choose is the colour. This is unusual because customisation is a big part of the Mini appeal.

Mini Countryman SD front seats

Moreover, this ‘medium’ spec they’ve chosen for the Cooper SD is not exactly what you’d call extravagant, and it makes you realise just how much of what you’ve seen on other Minis is, in fact, a paid optional extra. The touchscreen is a small, 6.5-inch unit (as opposed to 8.8), the click-wheel controller for the BMW-sourced infotainment system is smaller too and doesn’t feature a touchpad, there are no gearshift paddles and no rear-view camera either. The exterior does have enough Mini spunk (contrast roof and bonnet stripes included) but the wheels are a small 17-inch size that don’t do wonders for the car’s stance. That said, they have put in some good features, like powered front seats with memory and a two-piece panoramic sunroof.

Mini Countryman SD rear seat

What’s it like to drive?

The SD badge means it uses the more powerful 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, rather than the 1.5-litre, three-cylinder we’re used to from the hatchback. It’s the same motor from the BMW X1 and so puts out a healthy 190hp and 400Nm, but the numbers don’t do it justice – this thing is quick! In our tests, it did 0-100kph in just 7.5sec, and you have to remember that it’s front-wheel-drive only (all Indian Countrymans are), so it doesn’t have the traction benefit of AWD. It does, however, have a tremendous ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox that’s one of the best in the business. You do get some torque steer if you flatten your foot but you learn to drive around that, and it’s worth mentioning that the brakes, while very good, tend to bite really hard, really early, so it’s best to tap gently on them.

Mini Countryman SD engine

What is sure to draw buyers to this crossover is that, in true Mini fashion, it is super fun to drive. Once you get going, it doesn’t feel as big as it is, and is akin to driving the regular five-door hatchback. The steering is full of life, it’s very well weighted and body control is incredibly tidy – not just by crossover standards, but compared to any car. The downside is that the ride is a bit firm at low speeds, thumping hard through bumps and rocking the car’s occupants around, but it improves drastically as speeds rise. The steering also feels a bit on the heavy side at city speeds, but it’s not unforgivable, and it pays off wonderfully on the highway or a twisty road.

Mini Countryman SD side action

Should I buy one?

The new, India-spec Mini Countryman is not easy to view through the same lens as we do other compact luxury SUVs, like the Mercedes GLA, Audi Q3, Volvo XC40, or even its own cousin, the BMW X1. It feels a bit compromised, especially with ground clearance that doesn’t seem too much more than the hatchbacks’, and the glaring absence of AWD. There are also a few items of equipment we really feel they should’ve kept in. What it is, then, is a Mini, albeit one that’s just a bit more practical. What you’re paying for is the style statement and the driving pleasure, and both those are there in abundance. It just happens to have enough space for five and their luggage, so it works better as a family car than the smaller Minis. What helps is that local assembly has kept the price from being exorbitant, at Rs 37.40 lakh (ex-showroom, India), and that means it’s bound to be on a lot of people’s radars. It’s not a full-on SUV, but it makes for a good urban family crossover that’s high on style and driving pleasure.

PRICE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Ex-showroom - Delhi Rs 37.40 lakh (ex-showroom, India)
ENGINE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Fuel Type / Propulsion Diesel
Engine Installation Front, transverse
Type 4 cylinder, turbo-diesel
Cubic Capacity (cc) 1995cc
Valve Train 4 valves, DOHC
Max Power (hp @ rpm) 190hp
Max Torque (Nm @ rpm) 400Nm at 1750rpm
TRANSMISSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Drive Layout Front-wheel
Gearbox Type Automatic
No of Gears 8
EFFICIENCY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Claimed Indian Driving Cycle (kpl) 19.19kpl
ACCELERATION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
0 - 100 kph (sec) 7.5s
Dimensions Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Length (mm) 4299mm
Width (mm) 1822mm
Height (mm) 1557mm
Wheelbase (mm) 2670mm
Front Track (mm) 1585mm
Rear Track (mm) 1587mm
Boot Capacity (Lts) 450-1390 litres
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