Though I found my thigh grazing over the rear wheel arch on the way into the back seats, my six foot-one frame discovered plenty of space once installed, via a whopping 8.8 inches more shoulder room. Additionally, the rear seat can modestly recline, as well as slide 5.1 inches giving the cargo hold added versatility. Expanding that volume to its 71.4 cubic foot maximum requires first folding-down an anti-parcel intrusion panel behind the individual rear seats, which, in turn, collapse to lay almost flat. Up front, the Mini's familiar dash motif is largely recycled, though with some nice ergonomic improvements to the center stack (the large navigation/infotainment screen seemed impressively logical). Outward vision is expansive, helped by a nearly three-inch taller H-point.

Unfortunately, our drive was confined to some frantic laps around a soaked mini-road course that's pinched enough to be a serviceable kart track. In other words, there was scant chance to evaluate the car's ride or real-world handling. However, what's clear is the 1.6-liter's combination of 181-horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque (in reality, 192 lb-ft, as the turbo can over-boost from its 0.6 bar max to 0.8 for up to 9 seconds) makes it a sprightly conveyance, expected to reach 60 mph in 7.8 seconds (8.2 for the automatic version). That's an improvement of nine hp over the current turbocharged engine, despite delivering an estimated 35 mpg on the highway. Expect manual transmission non-turbo Countrymans to produce a 0-60 time of roughly 10.4 seconds, and 11.5 seconds for the automatic, via its 118 lb-ft of torque and 120 horsepower (two hp up from its 2010 spec).