Outside, the Countryman, while much bigger in overall dimensions (full specifications have yet to be released), maintains plenty of the Mini DNA that made the original car a hit with consumers. Not surprisingly, it has more ground clearance, along with larger wheel arches designed to highlight the car's all-wheel-drive capabilities. Other features that have seen a reworking include the roofline, side markers, window graphics extending around the car, and rear light banks. The front end, with a new interpretation of the Mini's hexagonal grille, is more upright in order to meet European pedestrian safety standards.
The Countryman employs a number of changes on the inside, the main difference being Mini's new Center Rail (first seen on the 2008 Geneva show's Crossover Concept), a console that extends to the rear of the car in the four-seat models and integrates various storage areas, cupholders, audio devices such as iPods and telephones (iPhone and smartphone integration is possible). Flexible clip-in elements enable the driver and passengers to divide up the boxes as necessary. The Countryman also features a slightly updated center display surrounded by colored rings, and high-end audio and navigation options will be available. Of course, Mini will offer a myriad of customization options for the Countryman both inside the cabin as well as for the exterior.
Other Countryman options include an extra-large panorama roof, adaptive, xenon headlights, heated windscreen, towbar, alloy wheels ranging in size from 16 to 19 inches, a sports suspension option that lowers the car by almost 0.4". In addition, a wide range of John Cooper Works components will be available for the car, and it wouldn't be a stretch to think a Cooper Works version will become available at some point.
While some may question the decision by BMW and Mini to move the Cooper lineup into the four-door direction, the Countryman seems a logical move, and as long as it retains the Mini's fun-to-drive character, we're guessing it will find a whole new audience of buyers who may have never before considered the brand.