The impressive sales of the MINI vehicle lineup have spurred BMW to further extend the brand by introducing an all-new model for the 2011 year. This baby to the fledgling BMW brand is known as the 2011 MINI Countryman.
The MINI Countryman is a quirky crossover that, according to BMW, "bridges the gap between the classic concept of the MINI and a modern Sports Activity Vehicle." One look at the larger-proportioned MINI, and it quickly becomes clear that this statement serves as a spot-on description.
Short, rounded features, a high window line, wide stance and near-irresistible cutesy British charm all come together to make the Countryman unmistakably MINI. Still, the MINI crossover stands out from its brothers with expanded dimensions, improved ground clearance and four passenger doors.
Clearly, the MINI Countryman is geared towards drivers who enjoy the stylish flare of the MINI Cooper, yet are put off by the hatchback's diminutive size.
The MINI Countryman comes standard with a 4-passenger seating arrangement. However, an extra passenger can be added if the owner opts for the no-cost three-seat rear bench upgrade. Though specific interior dimensions have yet to be released, BMW promises "generous legroom, headroom and shoulder freedom," as well as "superior comfort'¦on long distances."
Luggage capacity comes in at 12.2 cubic feet with the seats up, and 41.0 cubic feet with seats down. In comparison, the 2010 MINI Cooper offers a maximum cargo capacity of 23.1 cubic feet.
Stylistically, those familiar with the MINI brand will feel right at home inside the MINI Countryman. Traditional MINI embellishments - such as air vents with colored-ring rims - mold seamlessly with innovative new additions to create an all-around classy interior feel.
One interior feature that BMW is particularly proud of is something they call the MINI Center Rail. This center console extends all the way to the rear seat and is designed to give storage options to all passengers in the vehicle.
In terms of power, the MINI Countryman will be available globally with the full MINI suite of engines. Three 1.6-liter traditional engine options will deliver between 90 horsepower and 184 horsepower. On the top-tier turbocharged engine, variable-valve timing and all-wheel drive are available for the first time on a MINI vehicle. Two diesel engines will also be available. As of yet, it is still unclear how many of these engine options will be made available in America.
If you're looking for a fuel-efficient 2011 crossover vehicle, then the MINI Countryman may very well fit your needs. While official fuel ratings have yet to be released, the MINI crossover should come close to matching the stellar numbers posted by the rest of the MINI family. The MINI Cooper Clubman - currently the largest model in the MINI fleet - earns 28 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.
The 2011 MINI Countryman is slated to hit dealership floors sometime this Fall.