You never get tired of looking at a MINI. It's MINI, for gods sake and the design has influenced so many cars. One look at it and you stumble for words and that's exactly what happened to me. The MINI Countryman D is the first Mini to be assembled in India and that means the price of the car has taken a dip of ₹ 8.6 lakhs than the fully imported petrol-engined Countryman High.
Granted that the Countryman D has its hands full with competition from the likes of the Mercedes A-Class and the BMW 1 Series, it still stands tall not because it is an icon but because it has been able to sustain that status for so many years now.
It may look like a hatchback, but it is over four metres long and its not as Mini as it sounds. It is the first car from the company to get five doors. It's got a nice bulge on the clamshell bonnet but that said styling wise, it is not exactly as vibrant or dramatic as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
Step inside and you are greeted by a high-quality, extrovert dashboard dominated by an oversized, centrally mounted speedometer and the graphic display that it incorporates within it. A centrally mounted oversized speedometer, and the graphic display that it incorporates within it, blows your mind. I was especially intrigued by the toggle switches mounted both on the roof, and below the speedometer. Even the handbrake resembles the thrust lever of a fighter jet. All I needed now was a pair of headphones, and an affirmative that the runway was cleared for take-off.
It's quite well equipped too, and comes with Bluetooth connectivity, climate control, a sunroof, paddle shifters, and a driver interface system that's similar to BMW's iDrive. It gets a Harman/ Kardon sound system that makes you want to turn up the sound and bounce to the music.
After the toggle ogle, it was time to get down to business and see for myself what this 1,995cc, four-cylinder common-rail diesel was all about. It was a different approach when it came to this one. It was eager to go, and I had about 112bhp to deal with. There is a rush of power too when you press the throttle initially, and that might be an issue when it comes to slow-moving traffic - but once you're out on an empty road, you have nothing to complain about.
There is no hesitation; it does what you expect a Mini to do - just go. It takes a while to get used to the way the Countryman handles - but it is, what I can only describe as, entertaining. The steering is sharp, quick, and feels heavy at low speeds. The engine is responsive, and it keeps you on your toes because sometimes it feels as though it has a mind of its own.
The ride quality is quite offbeat though. Considering that Indian roads are never flat, or flattened out, it thumps and tosses you around due to the stiff suspension and low-profile 18-inch tyres. The ride quality improves as you go faster, but essentially it's not the most comfortable car around. So, technically, you have to drive it fast to enjoy it - and what else could you ask for in a car?
But priced at Rs 28.6 lakhs, it makes quite a statement for itself. It's funky, it's crazy and a complete lunatic on-road. So, it's value for money, I guess.