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Big Country

By Wells Journal  |  Posted: November 15, 2012

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The five-door Countryman has opened the possibility of MINI ownership up to buyers who find the smaller models in the range too impractical.

This crossover 4x4 has all the cute retro design cues that have underpinned MINI's success and it's proved to be something of a surprise sales success since its launch here in 2010. The brand is attempting to keep that momentum going with an uprated cabin, more efficient powerplants and a top John Cooper Works firebrand model at the top of the range.

MINI has a winning design formula based around the key themes of the 1960s original and, by golly, it's going to stick to it. The Countryman displays all of the brand's usual traits from the foursquare stance with the wheels pushed right out to the extremities of the vehicle to the unmistakable font end with its rounded headlamps. Everything is scaled up for this larger five-door car though, with the wheelbase and the overall height far in excess of anything that has gone before. Customers for the petrol Cooper S and Cooper D and SD variants also have the option of the ALL 4 all-wheel drive system that's standard on the John Cooper Works range-topper. It's an advanced set-up with an electro-hydraulic differential to vary the power distribution between the front and rear axles according to the detected levels of grip.

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