At 161.7 inches long, the Countryman trumps the standard Mini Hardtop's length by more than a foot (15.1 inches) and sits 4.1 inches wider at 70.4 inches. It stands 61.5 inches tall, too - some 6.1 inches higher than a Hardtop. As technical director Kim Reynolds put it in his First Drive of a European-spec prototype , "think the Honda Fit's length with the Volkswagen Golf's width" and you won't be too far off in imagining the Countryman's dimensions. Throw in a Versa-like height for the full measurement visualization.

We open the back hatch and reposition our carryon luggage, thankfully without having to use any of our antiquated Tetris strategies. Prior to strapping into the driver's seat, we notice the sporty vents at the front and rear of the back wheels. They match the aggressive lower diffuser and side skirts, which channel passing air more efficiently.

Heading directly into the thick of Austin's rush hour, we're quickly sandwiched fore and aft by two other Countryman testers. The trailing car's round Xenon-equipped headlights positioned at the nose's furthest extremities shine into our auto-dimming rearview mirror. Like the protruding LED taillights glistening ahead, they accentuate the vehicle's width.

Athletic bulges, mighty alloys, and four full-size doors give the iconic shape a more sophisticated, less caricature-like appearance, while still evoking the British brand's eccentric spirit. Reinvigorated traits like a smiling mug, short overhangs, and distinct helmet top (now with rear kink to mark the inclusion of four doors) remind everyone of its Mini DNA.

There is no signature turbocharged scoop in the Countryman S's hood. The engine sufficiently cools without one, plus the car better satisfies strict international pedestrian safety standards. Instead, an intake below the blacked-out hexagonal grille was added to further differentiate the model.

As a Countryman pulls alongside us we notice the diagonal function line ahead of the exterior mirrors extends down into the front wheel well, serving as a reinvention of the body welding seam first seen on the original Mini Cooper. (Only the Countryman wears this unique line.) Ample chrome dresses up the headlights, grille, and lower intakes, and serves as a dividing beltline.