The Mini Countryman is a complicated car and not at all the textbook crossover that you might expect it to be.
You can undoubtedly grow to like it, but that affection is more likely to come about if you buy into the retro-cool ‘new premium’ design and zappy driver engagement on which Mini has traded for the past 15 years. If you do embrace it, you may decide that only a Countryman will do, particularly against its less tigerish and quirky mid-sized premium hatchback rivals.
But for our money, and by the standards of the classy and complete cars at which this Mini is aimed, it’s not quite the bullseye it might have been.
The art of developing an outstanding full-size hatchback is in expertly balancing obliging comfort against enough dynamism to keep you interested in the driving experience.
Mini has come closer to nailing that compromise here than it did with the Clubman, but the Countryman is still a way off being the broadly impressive, sophisticated prospect it needs to be to bring new buyers into Mini showrooms, rather than simply preventing the old ones from leaving.
With all this in mind, the Countryman only manages to enter into our top five in fourth place ahead of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, but behind the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, Audi A3 Sportback and the BMW 1 Series.