Home Automobile Test Drive: 2023 Mini Cooper S Countryman “Untamed” | The Daily Drive

Test Drive: 2023 Mini Cooper S Countryman “Untamed” | The Daily Drive

Test Drive: 2023 Mini Cooper S Countryman “Untamed” | The Daily Drive


2023 Mini Cooper S Countryman
2023 Mini Cooper S Countryman in Momentum Grey

2023 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 Untamed

Class: Subcompact Crossover

Color: Momentum Grey

Miles driven: 140

CG Report Card
Room and Comfort B
Power and Performance B+
Fit and Finish B+
Fuel Economy A-
Value B-
Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide’s impressions of the entire model lineup.
Big & Tall Comfort
Big Guy B+
Tall Guy B
Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. “Big” rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, “Tall” rating based on 6’6″-tall male tester.
Engine Specs 189-horsepower 2.0-liter
Engine Type Turbo four
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Drive Wheels AWD

Observed fuel economy: 30.7 mpg

Driving mix: 60% city, 40% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 23/31/26 (mpg city/highway/combined)

Snow Performance: N/A

Base price: $37,500 (not including $850 destination charge)

Options on test vehicle: Iconic Trim ($4900), MINI Untamed Edition ($1500), privacy glass ($500)

Price as tested: $45,250


Quick Hits

The great: Sporty/fun-to-drive character, room and practical cabin

The good: Excellent fuel economy, excellent all-around visibility

The not so good: Pricey for a little crossover


Tom Appel:

A lot of creativity-deprived copywriters have made use of the phrase “size matters” to sell things as varied as diamonds and fast-food fountain beverages. I don’t actually know how well cheap double entendre helps to move the merchandise, but it probably doesn’t do much for brand image.

But what about perceived size? I ask the question because the Mini Cooper Countryman, as part of the “Mini” family, likely suffers somewhat from the perception that the small crossover is actually very small—which it is not. In fact, no Mini model is really all that small.

2023 Mini Cooper S Countryman
2023 Mini Cooper S Countryman

Truth is, the Mini Cooper Countryman is only about 7 inches shorter than the popular Mazda CX-5 small crossover, and roughly the same size in every other dimension. Our point: If you’re thinking about a buying a small crossover, don’t leave the Countryman off your test-drive list, especially if you’re looking to have a little fun getting where you’re going.

The Countryman is the largest vehicle in the Mini lineup which also includes the standard 2-door and 4-door “Hardtops,” the 2-door Convertible, and the wagon-like 4-door Clubman. For now, the Clubman and Countryman are the only Mini models available with AWD.

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2023 Mini Cooper S Countryman
2023 Mini Cooper S Countryman

For 2023 and 2024, the Countryman is offered in offered in three trim levels, base, S, and S E. Base models are powered by 134-horsepower turbocharged 3-cylinder engine. In S trim the Country comes with a 189-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder powerplant. The S E is a plug-in hybrid which mates a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine with an electric motor for a combined 221 horsepower. Front-drive versions of the base and S come with a 7-speed automatic transmission, though the base can also be had with a 6-speed manual. An 8-speed automatic is the only transmission available on AWD base and S models, while a 6-speed automatic is the only transmission offered on the S E. Also available is the high-performance John Cooper Works edition, which features a 301-horsepower version of the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine.

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2023 Mini Cooper S Countryman
2023 Mini Cooper S Countryman

Note that a redesigned Mini Countryman is due to arrive as a 2025 model, which will be revealed as early as the first quarter of 2024.

Consumer Guide recently spent a week behind the wheel of a 2023 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 in Momentum Gray and equipped with the Mini Untamed Edition trim group. All told, our test car came to $45,250.

The $1500 Untamed package includes a number of unique trim elements, such as a specific steering wheel, cabin upholstery, black interior and exterior trim bits, and special badging.

As noted early, the Mini Countryman is not small. There’s plenty of front and 2nd-row seating space, and entering the front row is easy thanks to the elevated seat height and generously sized doors. Rear-seat accommodations are similarly generous, tough the door openings are a little tidier.

We found the controls generally easy to use, though the large center-mounted pie-plate-sized touchscreen is actually a small rectangular screen located inside the “plate.” While info on the screen is easy enough to read and understand, the left-side navigation icons on the screen are located too close to the rim of the larger round frame, and can be difficult for the driver to see, much less press, especially while underway.

Note that our car was equipped with the $5000 Iconic Trim Package, which, along with a bevy of safety and driver-assistance features, includes the harman/Kardon audio system, which we can heartily recommend.

On the road the Countryman is a delight to drive. The turbocharged 4-cyinder engine sounds both sporty and refined, and serves up plenty of around-town power, as well as ample highway merging and passing muscle. The 8-speed automatic transmission provides timely and snappy shifts, and mates well with the engine.

Road noise is well checked, with the burble of the exhaust being the only real sound to penetrate the cabin, and we found the exhaust a welcome reminder of the Mini’s generally athletic character.

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2023 Mini Cooper S Countryman
2023 Mini Cooper S Countryman

Handling is likewise sporty, and we can say without fear of contradiction that the Countryman is among the most entertaining of small crossovers to spend time commuting in. Ride quality is also in line with the car’s generally premium character, though larger road-surface flaws can cause some bobbing at highway speed.

Fuel economy is a bright spot. Over 140 miles of mixed driving, we averaged 30.7 mpg, which is excellent for the class, and surprising given the cars power and generally sporty character.

While we could probably live without the Untamed décor, it’s a fun package, and—relatively speaking—doesn’t really add much to the bottom line. And, about that bottom line…

If the Countryman has an Achille’s heal, it’s price. Though practical and fun to drive, our test car came in just over $45,000, which is well-equipped midsize-crossover kind of money. Yes, you can equip a Countryman for much less money. And yes, equipped as our test car is, the Countryman boasts a fun-to-drive quotient that few other small crossovers can match. We think $45,000 is a lot to pay for a small crossover, but if you put a high value on sporty, quirky character, that price probably makes sense for you—and we’re cool with that. And remember, the Countryman isn’t really mini, it’s actually quite roomy.

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2023 Mini Cooper S Countryman
2023 Mini Cooper S Countryman

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2023 Mini Cooper S Countryman “Untamed” Gallery

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