The well-worn perception of Minis is that they're so small, you can hardly shoehorn yourself into the car -- let alone you and a couple of friends. But anyone who's been in one for any length of time knows they're surprisingly big inside despite looking so little on the outside. Of course, with the Mini Countryman, the space factor has been kicked up a couple of notches.

The Countryman is so much bigger, I was a little taken aback by just how much. I've been in the maxi Mini for a couple months now and, for my day-to-day commute, I've found it fits me very well. At just over 6 feet, but in no way do I feel cramped or uncomfortable behind the wheel. I can spread out, and the generous dead pedal helps my left foot find its comfort zone. Ingress and egress is quick and easy, and there's so much headroom I swear I could wear one of those Abe Lincoln lids and still have room.

Over the holiday break I found out just how big Big Mini really is -- at least from a people-hauling perspective. I had family in town, including my stepfather, who is easily three or so inches taller than me, with looooong legs. I considered doing some horsetrading to get into something bigger, but decided to roll the dice and see how he'd fit inside. Thankfully it didn't come up snake eyes. He fit in no problem, with room to spare. And the more impressive part is my mom, who is average height for a woman, fit just fine behind him.

Four of us (my wife was seated behind me, also comfortably) went on several trips and not once did we have any spatial issues. I could tell my stepdad was impressed -- he remarked several times about how well he fit in the Countryman, with plenty of leg and headroom to spare.

Alas, all was not well during our excursions in and around L.A. My rear seat passengers took the brunt of several hits over manhole covers and broken pavement, sending significant jolts through both of them thanks to the suspension setup and the run flat tires that would be right at home affixed to Fred Flintstone's ride. It's an issue with all Minis we'd like to see addressed in some manner, possibly for non-S cars at the very least. While I can and do appreciate how Minis are setup, my mom and wife -- not so much.


Our Car
Months/miles in service6/10,932
Avg econ/CO223.6 mpg/0.82 lb/mi
Energy cons143 kW-hr/100 mi
Unresolved problemsNone
Maintenance cost$0
Normal-wear cost$0