Bridging the gap: The four-door Mini Countryman boasts extra space and flexibility, but still retains the go-kart feeling and compactness that Mini purists love

First we had the two-door Mini. Then came the three-door version. But now the Mini has fully grown up – the four-door version has arrived – so it is fitting that this is the fourth Mini model in the family, and it opens up new dimensions and sales opportunities for the iconic car.

As a true crossover the Countryman bridges the gap between the concept of the Mini and a Sports Activity Vehicle, giving extra space and flexibility, thanks to the extra doors, and a wide rear hatch. There is a higher seating position in the new model so it is easier to get in and out of but the go-kart feeling is still there for the purists and there is optional Mini all-four, all-wheel drive.

The Countryman has bigger body dimensions, greater ground clearance and, as one would expect, there are still short overhangs for compactness. The window line is higher, there is a hexagon radiator grille, large headlights integrated in the engine and the bonnet and big wheel arches and larger windows give an impressive profile.

Inside, the raised driving position gives the driver a better view. The dash gets coloured rings around the air vents and the centre rail extends front to rear, instead of a conventional centre console, which opens up new options for integrating all kinds of storage boxes, cupholders, external audio devices, mobile phones and other pieces of must-have equipment.

The interior sees four individual seats with the option of a three-seat bench as a no-cost option. Mini engineers boast of superior comfort with generous legroom, headroom and shoulder width. The rear seats move fore-and-aft either individually or in a 60:40 split and the backrests may be tilted for angle individually. Depending on the seating arrangements the boot space ranges from 350 to 1,170 litres.

The Countryman comes with a choice of three petrol and two diesel engines. The power range extends from 90bhp in the One D Countryman all the way to 184bhp in the Cooper S. The 1.6-litre petrol engine in the top model comes for the first time not only with a twin-scroll turbocharger and direct fuel injection, but also with variable valve management, offering a better balance of power and fuel economy. The eco pack includes Brake Energy Regeneration, Auto Start Stop, a gearshift point indicator, and on-demand management of motors for heating, air etc. There is a six-speed manual gearbox with the option of an automatic with Steptronic on the Cooper and there is Dynamic Stability Control and Dynamic Traction Control.