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The Korea Herald
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THE INVESTOR
July 22, 2024

Automobiles

[Test Drive] New Mini Countryman not so mini anymore

  • PUBLISHED :June 16, 2024 - 16:02
  • UPDATED :June 16, 2024 - 16:02
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New Mini Countryman (BMW Group Korea)

BMW Group’s premium compact car brand Mini has come back with a bigger, simpler and more digitalized model -- the new Mini Countryman -- as it aims to expand its turf.

The Korea Herald participated in the Mini Countryman’s launch ceremony and media test drive event in Seoul on Thursday. The newest, third-generation Mini Countryman marked the product’s first fully changed model since its second-generation model was launched in 2017.

The car's most distinguishable features are its larger size and its new headlamp design.

The new Mini Countryman does not feel so “mini” anymore despite its compact sports utility vehicle heritage. In fact, the latest model measures 4,445 millimeters in length, 1,845 mm in width and 1,660 mm in height, having increased by 150 mm, 25 mm and 105 mm, respectively, from the previous model.

“Through the new Mini Countryman, Mini is going to boldly expand its territory from the small vehicle sector to a bigger segment,” said Jung Soo-won, head of Mini Korea, during the launch ceremony before the test drive.

Mini’s signature, traditional circular headlights also went through a somewhat dramatic makeover. The shape of the headlights became more edgy and less round, donning more sharpness. Oliver Heilmer, head of design for the Mini brand, used the expression “charismatic simplicity” to describe the new Mini family’s fresh design principle. The new design certainly looked more futuristic while maintaining the brand’s decadeslong heritage.

In accordance with the bigger body, the new Mini Countryman’s interior is much more spacious than the previous model. The rear seats have enough legroom and headroom for an adult male with a height of 185 centimeters. The trunk offers up to 1,530 liters of loading space if the rear seats are folded.

The dashboard is as simple as it can get with the introduction of the world’s first circular organic light-emitting display in the automotive industry developed by Samsung Display.

A 240-millimeter circular organic light-emitting display developed by Samsung Display is installed in the new Mini Countryman's dashboard. (Kan Hyeong-woo/The Korea Herald)

Below the 240-mm circular OLED installed in the middle part of the front side, there are only 10 buttons and knobs that control the vehicle’s basic functions such as starting the engine, the audio volume, gears and emergency light. Everything else can be controlled by touching the circular OLED. The touch response was accurate and quick.

The Korea-dedicated navigation based on the country's leading mobility platform, Tmap, worked swiftly, reflecting on the road and traffic conditions in real time.

The 80-kilometer test driving course consisted of inner city roads, highways and some rural areas between Seoul and Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province. The model used for the test drive was the Mini Countryman S ALL 4, which boasts a maximum horsepower of 204 with a maximum torque of 30.6 kilograms-meter to allow the car to reach 100 km per hour from a standstill in 7.4 seconds.

The acceleration and cruising of the new Mini Countryman feels quite similar to the previous model’s ride. The new model drives like a Mini, meaning that the center gravity feels low and heavy for an ordinary compact SUV. Some may describe the driving experience as being rigid while others might say that it drives like a sports car.

The Mini Countryman offers a fuel efficiency of 10.8 km per liter, according to the Korean government’s certification. The starting price of the latest Mini is 49.9 million ($36,200).

Mini Korea plans to release the new all-electric Mini Cooper, new all-electric Mini Countryman and new Mini Cooper’s three-door gasoline model in the local market during the second half of this year.

By Kan Hyeong-woo (hwkan@heraldcorp.com)

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