The MINI Electric on test for Changing Lanes

MINI Electric Review

Read Caroline's MINI Electric review for everything you need to know about buying the electric MINI in Ireland.

Even icons like the MINI must face an electric future. The challenge for MINI? To create a fun to drive, all-electric version of the famous hatchback that dilutes nothing of the famed MINI driving character.

We recently reviewed the MINI Hatch for Changing Lanes with a petrol engine providing the power.

Now it's the turn of the MINI Electric. It's the brand’s first battery electric vehicle based on the iconic three door hatchback and goes on sale from €35,715. But with VRT rebate reducing the purchase price, and a further SEAI government supported grant of €5,000 available, the MINI Electric range is competitive.

The MINI Electric on test for Changing Lanes
The MINI Electric on test for Changing Lanes

What's so special about the MINI Electric?

For this new era of electrification, the electric MINI gets a 32.6 kWh battery with an electric range of 235-270 km measured by WLTP industry standards. It's not the best on the market in range for a small electric car, but MINI has a plan.

At a weight of 1,365 kg, this one is just 145 kg heavier than the current MINI Cooper S Hatch with automatic transmission. New suspension technology designed for the electric MINI helps retain and enhance the brand's famed fun driving dynamics.

With a centre of gravity that is at least 30 millimetres lower than in the MINI Cooper S and the reduced weight over the front wheels thanks to the electric motor, the MINI Electric's weight distribution promises a fun to drive small electric car. There's also an innovative Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system on board, which improves traction as you set-off and stability in brake energy recovery mode, as well as when accelerating out of tight bends.

MINI has retained the classic shape and character of the iconic hatchback for this all-electric version. So MINI Electric is everything we love about MINI, with a sporty, fun look and eye-popping colour splashes of Energetic Yellow on the front grille and wing mirrors.

There's also an embossed electric logo on the car’s side scuttles, as well as on the tailgate and front radiator grille. The front grille features the hallmark hexagonal shape but is closed, as the car requires less cooling. There are also some quirky wheel covers available that resemble a three point plug.

The electric MINI goes on sale in Ireland from €35,715
The electric MINI goes on sale in Ireland from €35,715

What's it like inside?

Inside the cabin is once again reassuringly classic MINI. Quality is excellent. There's a boutique feel to the cabin. The large central binnacle houses the infotainment, and is compatible with smartphones via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

There's a new digital dashboard with a 5.5-inch colour screen behind the steering wheel, with information on available range and charge level of the battery relayed to the driver. Standard equipment on Level 1 models (from €28,215 on the road) includes sports seats, automatic air conditioning, cruise control, Connected Navigation including Real Time Traffic Information (RTTI), and LED lights front and rear.

Level 2 includes a cloth/leather-look upholstery, additional exterior body colour and wheel options, as well as rear Park Distance Control (PDC), rear parking camera, heated front seats, and Driving Assistance Pack.

Level 3 includes front PDC, Park Assist, Harmon Kardon sound system, head-up display, panoramic sunroof, matrix LEDs and an 8.8” infotainment touch screen. Wireless phone charging is also included, as is leather upholstery, a choice of five alloy wheels and six exterior body colours.

The MINI is super stylish but this is a small car and not the most practical on the market. It's fine up front but rear seating is limited, with not much legroom available. The boot is also small at just 211 litres, but there is no compromise between petrol versions and electric versions. They all get the same interior and boot space. At least it expands to 731 litres when the rear backrests are folded down. Which split fold 60:40 by the way!

The interior of the new MINI Electric
The interior of the new MINI Electric

Driving the MINI Electric

The MINI Electric sacrifices little of the car's bewitching fun to drive character in the pursuit of zero tailpipe emissions. For MINI fans, this electrified model is a dream come true. It may be carrying a battery on board but it still feels light and agile on the road. It's naturally engaging to drive with a swift delivery of power to the road. The electric motor provides 184 hp and 270 Nm of torque. Acceleration is a brisk 7.3 seconds from 0 to 100km/h. The motor is the latest, powerful version of the synchronous electric motor developed by the BMW Group.

The car offers as standard four MINI Driving Modes. SPORT mode has more direct steering and a more rapid power delivery. The MID setting has less aggressive steering, while GREEN mode features more gentle accelerator response. In GREEN+ mode, some comfort functions such as air conditioning are limited or deactivated to save further power and increase range.

You can also select the intensity of power regeneration, which recharges the battery when the driver lifts off the accelerator, preserving energy, and acts as a braking force.

The car comes with both home and public charging cables as standard, designed for AC and DC charging using Type 2 and CCS Combo 2 plugs. 50 kW DC fast charging is available, giving 80% charge in about 36 minutes. The new MINI can get a full charge at home in 4 hours and 20 minutes using 7.4 kW AC charging.

50 kWh DC fast charging is available
50 kWh DC fast charging is available

Did you like it?

Like all MINIs, the MINI Electric is a hoot to drive, sacrificing none of its fun to drive character for battery power.

The downside for the electric MINI is range. Less than 200 km in real world driving just doesn't give enough wiggle room on longer journeys.

In fairness the MINI is a real city car anyway, and a very trendy one at that. So as a second car confined to driving around town it could work very well. It's a more exclusive small car, and it is priced pretty well for a small electric car of this standard that is far nicer to drive than the competition.

This is a premium small car, undeniably stylish and desirable. A status symbol now electrified. MINI Electric makes a successful debut, though battery range will limit its appeal.

MINI Electric is super stylish and fun to drive electric small car
MINI Electric is super stylish and fun to drive electric small car

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: MINI Electric Level 2
Price:
€30,503 (including SEAI grant and VRT relief)
Battery: 32.6 kWh
Power: 
184 hp
Torque: 270 Nm
0-100km/h: 
7.3 seconds
Top speed: 150 km/h
Motor tax: 
€120 per year


The 2021 MINI Cooper Sport on test for Changing Lanes!

MINI Hatch Review (2022)

The 2021 MINI Cooper Sport on test for Changing Lanes!
The 2021 MINI Cooper Sport on test for Changing Lanes!

Read Caroline's MINI Hatch review for everything you need to know about the MINI range in Ireland in 2022.

The iconic MINI Hatch - reinvented at the turn of the century under the steer of BMW Group - needs little introduction. Styling cues have stayed fresh and relevant over the years with just the slightest tweaks. The friendly round headlights say it all. 20 years old this year.

But is this MINI still relevant in today's market where it's all about how electrified you are?

MINI of course is not immune to market trends and in 2020, the brand launched the all-new MINI Electric in Ireland.

What's new for the MINI Hatch in 2021?

But MINI will still plant a petrol engine in this beauty and in 2021 the MINI Hatch got a comprehensive range of updates, along with the MINI Convertible and five door hatchback variants. It's the MINI, just swankier with a few more embellishments and options.

The MINI Hatch on review for Changing Lanes presents itself in Island Blue with three doors and a new multitone roof with an enthralling colour gradient from San Marino Blue through Pearly Acqua to Jet Black, created with a new painting technique. It's simply wild!

The MINI Hatch has been updated for this model year
The MINI Hatch has been updated for this model year

The MINI Hatch is cool. No doubt about it. After all these years, there's still no car that drips with attitude quite like it. Our MINI Hatch Cooper Sport on test rolls in at €27,903 with a small but funky 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine under the bonnet.

MINI has tweaked the front end with a larger radiator grille with black, hexagonal surround, flanked by hallmark round MINI headlights. The position lights have been replaced by vertical air inlets and the central bumper strip is now in body colour. The wheel arches have new contours and the side indicators have been redesigned to feature LED technology. At the back, the fog light is now integrated into the rear apron as a narrow LED unit. The John Cooper Works pack comes as standard on the Sport model and adds extra badging and more visual chutzpah.

What's it like inside?

Inside it's classic MINI too. No one else in the motor industry does car interiors quite like MINI. It's dark and cool with the central binnacle standing the test of time, now digital with an 8.8-inch colour touchscreen display and Piano Black high-gloss surface as standard. A newly-designed sports leather steering wheel with multifunction buttons is now standard, as is the digital display behind the steering wheel.

This car is oh so cool but it's not hot on rear legroom or even boot space. Carrying rear passengers is the MINI's least favourite thing to do. It's tight back there with just two seats. Some other small cars do boot space better too with the Hatch only managing 211 litres.

Inside the 2021 MINI Hatch
Inside the 2021 MINI Hatch

Driving the MINI Hatch

Behind the wheel, John Cooper Works sports sear bolster you perfectly in the MINI Hatch Cooper Sport. After driving this car we can confirm that the MINI Hatch petrol is most certainly relevant because fun never goes out of fashion.

This is probably the most fun small car you can buy. After all these years, it's still got it. The controls have a bit of weight to them, enhancing the sporty feeling behind the wheel. The MINI buries itself in corners with such enthusiasm, backed up by fabulous grip and precision. The MINI is a car you drive and it loves corners.

The six-speed gearbox is wonderfully notchy, the steering tight and sporty. There are few cars that feel this lively on the road any more, certainly in this price range. Refinement is as good as it should be for a car of this type, yet there’s a natural firmness to the suspension that adds to the atmosphere behind the wheel.

In the Cooper Sport, the 1.5-litre engine is a three cylinder affair with just 136 hp. But it feels lively and engaging and will suit most buyer's needs for power and performance. The 6-speed manual gearbox comes as standard but there is an automatic gearbox available too. The Cooper S models pack a more powerful 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol under the bonnet.

The classic silhouette of the MINI Hatch that never goes out of fashion
The classic silhouette of the MINI Hatch that never goes out of fashion

Did you like it?

The MINI Hatch is still one of the most desirable small cars on the market right now. It never goes out of fashion, even these days. It's not cheap and certainly carries a premium for its style and prestige. But driving it is a reminder why.

Delightfully sporty and fun on the road, this car is all about the joy of driving. Granted it's not the most practical small car on the market either.

Inside the MINI feels just as sporty with a unique interior perfectly 'digitised' for the times we live. MINI remains an icon of premium compact cars.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: MINI 3-Door Hatch Cooper Sport
Price: 
€27,903
Engine: 
1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power:  136 hp
Torque: 220 Nm
Top speed: 210 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 8.1 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
129 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€200 per year

MINI Hatch Cooper Sport is a cut above the rest in the small car market
MINI Hatch Cooper Sport is a cut above the rest in the small car market

The MINI Convertible on test for Changing Lanes!

MINI Convertible Review

The MINI Convertible on test for Changing Lanes!
The MINI Convertible on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2021 MINI Convertible!

Ireland’s heatwave of summer 2021 broke just as I was handed the keys to the Zesty Yellow MINI Convertible. It was probably a good thing, saving me the effort of applying sunscreen. In fact, the overcast skies proved a good match to convertible driving, a slight breeze adding even more atmosphere to what turned out to be an unexpected motoring highlight of the year.

MINI make good cars. I had forgotten just how good. Getting into the MINI Convertible is like discovering a part of you that disappeared when life got serious. It took ten years off me at least. The sheer fun of changing gears, the sporty steering, trendy cabin, and cool, classic good looks that have endeared the 21st century MINI to millions for now over two decades.

Reviving the MINI was a very good decision. Creating a fun and playful car that adults can enjoy whether you’re 25 or 85.

Priced from €34,424 for the day-glo MINI Convertible Cooper Sport on test, it's an expensive small car but actually seems like a bit of a bargain relative to the fun behind the wheel. Let me explain.

The MINI Convertible in Zesty Yellow

The MINI Convertible in Zesty Yellow

What's new for the MINI Convertible in 2021?

The revamp for the MINI Convertible in 2021 includes fresh new design and technology updates.

The front-view is dominated by a larger radiator grille and its black, hexagonal surround, and the hallmark round MINI headlights. The position lights have been replaced by vertical air inlets to optimise aerodynamics and the central bumper strip is now in body colour, rather than black. The wheel arch has new contours, the side indicators have been redesigned to feature LED technology and at the back of the car, the fog light is now integrated into the rear apron as a narrow LED unit. At the rear, LED lights in the Union Jack design are now standard for this market too. Zesty Yellow is an exclusive new colour option for the MINI Convertible.

Sport models like the one on test now offer Intelligent Adaptive Suspension as standard, Piano Black Exterior, additional John Cooper Works badging and Dinamica Leather upholstery. Rear Park Distance Control is also included as standard.

As part of the Piano Black Exterior option, the door handles, side scuttles, fuel cap, MINI logo on the bonnet and luggage compartment lid and model lettering and tailpipes of the exhaust system are now finished in high-gloss black, in addition to the surrounds of the headlights, radiator grille and rear lights.

The interior of the MINI Convertible
The interior of the MINI Convertible

Driving it!

Powered by a 1.5-litre three cylinder engine putting out 136 hp, this MINI Convertible will move you with great intent, with 0 – 100 kmh in 8.8 seconds. Driving the MINI is an experience, the famed go-kart handling a real thing, not a myth. This car is fun and tactile to drive. You must wrestle it a bit, pull a gear here and there, fling it in and out of the corners, with all the enthusiasm of a terrier after its favourite toy down the back of the sofa.

The six-speed gearbox is wonderfully notchy, the steering tight and sporty. There are few cars that feel this lively on the road any more, certainly in this price range. Refinement is as good as it should be for a car of this type, yet there’s a natural firmness to the suspension that adds to the atmosphere behind the wheel.

Is it practical? Well, it will happily fit you and your passenger up front but rear seating is not a strong point. If you regularly carry rear passengers, it’s going to be uncomfortable for them. The boot lid opens niftily, and will stow away a few things, but again awkward to access. But hell, it’s a convertible MINI! The fully electric roof also opens and closes in just 18 seconds. And that’s how long it takes for the real fun to begin!

The impossibly fun and glam MINI Convertible!
The fun and glam MINI Convertible Cooper Sport is powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine with 136 hp

Inside the 2021 MINI Convertible

The interior is classic MINI – a vibe all its own – one of shiny gloss black, retro switches and that large circular binnacle still doing its job after all these years, just modernised enough for the digital era.

An 8.8-inch colour touchscreen display and Piano Black high-gloss surface are now standard and the audio control unit and function buttons for hazard warning lights and driver assistance systems are integrated more harmoniously into the circular control unit. Chrome elements have been significantly reduced throughout the interior with the two outer air outlets framed by black panels. The internal air vents have been completely redesigned and are now embedded to be flush with the interior surface. There’s also a newly-designed sports leather steering wheel with multifunction buttons. The digital display behind the steering is now standard.

Did you like it?

Yes, yes and yes! The MINI Convertible is flirty and superfluous on the surface. But then spend some real time with it. Find a deserted mountain road, let the roof down and enjoy some good, old fashioned motoring.

This car is an absolute hoot to drive even with the rather basic 136 hp 1.5-litre engine of our test car. It’s about the way you drive the car, the tactile nature of it, something that is gradually becoming rarer in modern cars.

Getting inside is like steeping into a nightclub – all shiny black surfaces and funky lighting. But it’s fun and mischievous, just like the car.

I’d choose the MINI again and again and again.

Behind the wheel of the new MINI Convertible!
Behind the wheel of the new MINI Convertible!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: MINI Convertible Cooper Sport
Price: 
€34,424
Engine: 
1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power: 136 hp
Torque: 220 Nm
Top speed: 208 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 8.8 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
118 - 123 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€200 per year


The new MINI Electric is on sale in Ireland now

Mini Electric Preview In Dublin

The new MINI Electric is on sale in Ireland now
The new MINI Electric is on sale in Ireland now

MINI Ireland hosted a media preview of the new MINI Electric at University College Dublin this week.

The MINI Electric marks the brand's first fully battery electric vehicle based on the iconic three door hatchback.

A 32.6 kWh battery gives the new electric MINI a range of up to 233 kilometres (WLTP). 50 kW fast charging gives 80% charge in 36 minutes while the new MINI can get a full charge at home in 4 hours and 20 minutes using AC 7.4 kW charging.

The electric motor provides 184 hp and 270 Nm of torque. Acceleration is a brisk 7.3 seconds from 0 to 100km/h. MINI promises a fun to drive character, with none of the fun the car is famous for list in this electric iteration. New suspension technology designed for this model helps retain and enhance the MINI’s famed go-kart driving dynamics. At a weight of 1,365 kg, the MINI Electric is just 145 kgs heavier than the current MINI Cooper S 3-Door with automatic transmission.

The MINI Electric will be distinguished visually by an embossed logo on the car’s side scuttles, as well as on the tailgate and front radiator grille. The front grille features the hallmark hexagonal shape of the MINI but is closed for the electric model as the car requires less cooling. According to MINI, there have been no restrictions in terms of the size of the luggage compartment, which remains at 211 litres.

The new MINI Electric will be available in three trim lines in Ireland (OTR pricing including grants):

Level 1       €27,764

Level 2       €30,155

Level 3       €35,455

Level 1 standard equipment will include a new digital dashboard, automatic air conditioning, cruise control, Connected Navigation including Real Time Traffic Information (RTTI), and LED headlights/taillights.

Level 2 includes a cloth/leather-look upholstery, additional exterior body colour and wheel options, as well as rear Park Distance Control (PDC), Rear Camera, Seat Heating, Driving Assistance Pack and Logo Projection.

Level 3 includes front PDC, Park Assist, Harmon Kardon sound system, Head-up Display, Panoramic Sun Roof, Matrix LED’s and upgrade to a 8.8” infotainment touch screen. Wireless phone charging is also included, in addition to MINI Yours Leather Lounge upholstery, a choice of five alloy wheels and six exterior body colours.

The new MINI Electric will compete against new electric compacts including the Honda e, Peugeot e-208, Corsa-e, Renault ZOE, and Volkswagen ID.3.

The new MINI Electric is in dealers now available from €313 per month with first customer car deliveries expected in March.

The MINI Electric has a range up to 233 kilometres
The MINI Electric has a range up to 233 kilometres

MINI Cooper S Countryman Review Ireland

MINI Countryman Plug-in Hybrid Review

The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 is the MINI brand’s first plug-in hybrid and they have chosen the Countryman crossover to debut this new hybrid technology.

The MINI Countryman is a great option for buyers who need more space and practicality than what the classic MINI hatch can offer, while it also carries all the attributes of a fashionable crossover with rugged styling and an elevated driving position.

The Countryman is already available with a range of petrol and diesel engines but new for 2017 is the Countryman plug-in hybrid.

Though the new car market has shrinked in 2017, hybrid sales are up about 70%. It’s clear that buyers are starting to seek alternatives.

The MINI Countryman range starts at €32,980 while the plug-in hybrid has a list price of a heftier €42,500, though the SEAI and VRT reduction of a combined €7500 for plug-in hybrids brings that down to €35,000.

This is a very high spec model and the big boon is that real savings can be made on running costs. ‘ALL4’, MINI’s four wheel drive system, comes as standard, as does a six speed automatic transmission. Under the skin, a 1.5-litre three cylinder engine combines with a lithium ion battery and electric motor to produce a healthy 224hp, while CO2 emissions of 49g/km mean that motor tax is just €170 per year.

The beauty of the Countryman plug-in hybrid is that you can charge your Countryman like an electric vehicle from a domestic mains supply or a public charge point for a full charge in 2 to 3 hours. You can drive the car on electric power only for a range of up to 42km. If the battery can be topped up after each journey and you do a short commute or a lot of low speed urban driving then this car has the potential to be very cheap to run. On longer runs and when the battery power runs out, the car becomes less efficient.

On the road, the Countryman plug-in hybrid loses none of the fun-to-drive quality of its siblings. It just does it all in near silence. The transmission is super smooth and any switches between engine and electric power are done seamlessly without any disruption to the driving. The lightening quick responses of the steering and resistance to body roll in the corners make the Countryman a fantastic crossover to drive, and there is no shortage of power or in-gear punch with the ‘eboost’ from the electric motor giving the Countryman a 0 to 100kmh time of 6.8 seconds! The car is comfortable for the most part, though the optional 18” wheels on my test car did contribute to more road noise in the cabin at high speed.

Visually, the plug-in hybrid is distinguished from the rest of the Countryman range by some ‘E’ badging, and the Cooper S badge, typically red, is now yellow to denote the electric power. The interior carries a classic MINI design with the centrally mounted 6.5” touchscreen being the main focal point of the cabin. There is also an optional, larger 8.8” screen as part of the Media Pack. For convenience this can be operated by touch or via a rotary controller on the centre console.

Other standard equipment includes 17” alloy wheels, silver roof rails, front fog lights, cloth/leather upholstery, front sport seats, sport leather steering wheel with multifunction controls, cruise control, interior lights package, navigation and rear parking sensors.

MINI has managed to package the hybrid tech in the Countryman with minimum disruption to cabin space. The battery is under the rear seat, which has just been slightly raised to accommodate it, but headroom has not been compromised too much. The rear bench however would be more comfortable for two rather than three. The boot is a reasonable good size at 405 litres, with a practical shape and low loading sill.

The MINI Countryman is a highly desirable crossover that doesn’t come cheap, but offers considerable value in the compact premium segment. It’s a high quality product with a distinct personality and a refined and exciting drive. The plug-in hybrid comes at the right time to exploit any swing from diesel in the market, with the potential to be a very economical choice indeed.

Model tested: MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4
Price: €42,500 (€35,00 incl. VRT and SEAI reduction)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol + electric motor
Power: 224hp
Torque: 385Nm
0-100km/h: 6.8 seconds
Top speed: 198km/h
Claimed Economy: 2.1/100km
CO2 emissions: 49g/km
Motor tax: €170 per year

Caroline Kidd


MINI One D Clubman Review Ireland

Mini Clubman Review

The MINI brand has become synonymous with quirky cars that defy the norm, and the MINI Clubman has to be the quirkiest of them all.

From the front, it’s pure MINI hatch: a friendly face with round circular headlamps and slatted grille that’s become a MINI hallmark since the car was relaunched back in 2001.

Then you look at the side profile and you realise this is quite an elongated MINI. The Clubman is bigger than the previous model and is longer and wider than the MINI 5-door Hatch. Could it be a MINI estate?

Not quite. Once you open the quirky rear split doors at the back, you’ll find 360 litres of space, which is more similar to what you’ll find in most respectable family hatchbacks.

Yet you’ll struggle to find a family car as offbeat as the MINI Clubman. The cabin is full of more razzle dazzle: gloss black finishes, toggle switches and a touchscreen set in the centre of the dash surrounded by a strip of lighting that changes colour like a chameleon.

MINI One D Clubman Review Ireland
The interior of the MINI One D Clubman

On the practical side it can be hard to find the controls you’re looking for quickly in the gloom because all those black and glossy surfaces make it more akin to being inside a murky nightclub at 2am trying to find the exit after one too many, and that’s just to fiddle with the ventilation controls. But no one does car interiors like MINI so love it or hate it.

There is seating for three in the back and while the outer seats are comfortable with good legroom, the middle seat is a hard, uncomfortable perch with poor legroom.

Standard equipment on the MINI One D Clubman includes MINI Navigation, sport leather steering wheel with multi-function controls, cruise control, 16” alloy wheels, front fog lights, automatic lights and wipers, manual air conditioning, and MINI Connected services.

MINI offers the Clubman with a range of petrol and diesel engines, from small and efficient 1.5-litre three cylinder units, to larger four cylinder units, all turbocharged.

New to the range is the One D Clubman, which is an entry level three cylinder diesel with 116hp. Emissions are just 99g CO2 on standard wheels so motor tax is €180 per year. It’s also the most efficient in the range, returning a claimed 74mpg, though this reviewer achieved around 56mpg. At €30,657, the One D is one of the more accessible models in the Clubman range.

MINI One D Clubman Review Ireland
The MINI Clubman has a range of petrol and diesel engines, all turbocharged

On the road, there is a coarseness to the three cylinder diesel at low speeds around town and when you rev it hard, but refinement smooths out more at speed. For a low capacity engine, the One D is not slow. There’s 270Nm of torque available and 0-100kmh is achieved in a respectable 10.4 seconds. The manual gearbox in the test car made this car less enjoyable to drive as there is a notchy feel to it: the gear changes could be more fluid.

Much of the MINI’s agile and engaging driving character is retained in the Clubman: there’s loads of grip when you push the car and it dips and dives into corners with the utmost accuracy. The steering is a tad light compared to the MINI Countryman, but that’s a small niggle. There is some more pronounced body roll as you push hard into corners but it’s progressive and the car grips hard so it’s never a cause for concern. I noted some road noise at high speeds on the motorway and the car is quite firmly sprung so you will also detect movement underneath you as the car reacts to the road surface.

If you think of the MINI Clubman as a rival to a premium hatchback like the Audi A3, it makes most sense as the space in the car is adequate but not huge. There are some frustrations to the One D Clubman: comfort and refinement could be better considering it is positioned as more 'premium', and the split rear doors are cool but obscure visibility. However, the Clubman is fun to drive and just doesn’t look like anything else on the road. For those trying to retain their youthful edge well into adulthood, the MINI Clubman is a quirky, offbeat choice of family car.

Caroline Kidd

MINI One D Clubman Review Ireland
The MINI One D Clubman is a quirky, offbeat family car

Model tested: MINI One D Clubman
Price: 
€30,657 OTR (€36,929 as tested)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
116hp
Torque: 270Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.4 seconds
Top speed: 192km/h
Economy: 
72.4mpg
CO2 emissions:  
102g/km
Motor tax: 
€190 per year

If you are looking for an alternative premium family car in the same price range as the Clubman, you might also like this review of the Audi A3 Sportback.


MINI Cooper S Countryman Review Ireland

Mini Countryman Review

The MINI Countryman was launched back in 2010, a ‘big’ MINI with the style of a crossover. The idea was to package the fun of a MINI in a larger and more versatile shape, with SUV-inspired styling.

Seven years on and MINI Countryman Mark 2 has recently arrived in Ireland. It’s the biggest MINI yet, having expanded in length and width. Visually the new Countryman looks a lot better than the car it replaces. It’s grown up, and looks leaner and more purposeful than before. MINI’s extensive menu of customisation options is of course a feature.

Inside, the Countryman is probably not like any other crossover you’ve sat in because the MINI DNA still runs strong through this one. It’s a bit like stepping into a nightclub - all glossy surfaces, coloured lights and cheesy graphics. If you’re not having fun in here there is just something wrong.

MINI Cooper S Countryman Review Ireland
The interior of the MINI Cooper S Countryman

The quality of the interior is all very good, and even the seat fabric looks like it could belong to a posh designer sofa. The interior is less cluttered but it can still be described as ‘busy’. There’s a lot going on here and it can be difficult to find your way around if you’re not used to the MINI way of doing things. Infotainment is provided via the ‘MINI Visual Boost Radio’ with 6.5” colour display and controlled by a rotary controller on the centre console.

New MINI Countryman is roomier inside than the outgoing model. The wheelbase has been extended and there is now an extra 5 centimetres of legroom, which does make a difference. Headroom is good all round and the rear would be comfortable for two, three at a squeeze. The boot volume is up to 450 litres.

Petrol and diesel engines are available. The MINI Cooper Countryman has a 1.5-litre three cylinder petrol engine with 136hp, while the MINI Cooper D Countryman with a 2.0-litre 150hp diesel engine is the best for economy returning up to 64mpg with emissions of 113g/km. There are two more performance based models: the Cooper SD (190hp) and the Cooper S (192hp).  Manual and automatic gearboxes are available, as well as the option of MINI’s ‘ALL4’ all wheel drive system. A plug-in hybrid is due to arrive later in the year.

MINI Cooper S Countryman
The MINI Countryman range starts at €33,580

On the road, the Countryman is remarkably good fun, for a tall, slightly overweight MINI crossover. There is loads of grip and it feels glued to the road at all times, which allows for some very spirited driving. The steering has a weighty and elastic feel that adds to the thrills behind the wheel. It’s a sporty car but there is little compromise in terms of comfort, and it’s refined too for long haul trips on the motorway.

But thankfully not so well-insulated as to drown out the delightful noise of the 2.0-litre turbo petrol 192hp powering my Cooper S model. It burbles into life when you press the ignition switch and then rumbles thereafter not too dissimilar to a V8 (!) at low speeds around town. It’s quite disarming coming from a ‘family’ car, especially one that people tend to find more cute than menacing, at least to look at. It’s also very quick and very responsive, with 0-100kmh achieved in 7.2 seconds on the MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 with 8-speed Steptronic transmission. It’s an absolute delight to drive but it is thirsty, so not the economical choice, but definitely the most fun.

MINI Cooper S Countryman
The Countryman is now roomier inside and the dashboard layout has also been improved

It’s also very expensive, even before you hit the options list. While the range starts at €33,580, the Cooper S Countryman comes in at a hefty €38,850 or €43,400 with four wheel drive. My test car with options came in at over €53,000. Gulp.

Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, MINI Connected services, navigation and Bluetooth connectivity on Cooper and Cooper D models. MINI Cooper S and Cooper SD Countryman models add 17-inch alloy wheels and cloth/leather upholstery.

The new MINI Countryman is an improvement all round on the previous model and feels like it has finally grown into its crossover skin. With pricing starting from €33,580, the Countryman is firmly in the ‘small, premium crossover’ set. There are cheaper and more spacious crossovers available, but few with the character and driver appeal of the Countryman. The entry Cooper and Cooper D make most sense for the Irish market in terms of pricing and running costs, but the Cooper S really is special.

Model tested: MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 Auto
Price: 
€43,400 (€53,602 as tested)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
192hp
0-100km/h:  
7.2 seconds
Economy: 
39mpg
CO2 emissions:  
159g/km
Motor tax:
€570 per year

If you are looking for an upmarket crossover, you might also like this review of the Volkswagen Tiguan.

Caroline Kidd