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REMEMBER the original Mini Countryman? Back in the 1960s it came complete with wooden framework to support and enhance it’s estate car look – albeit a very small one.

The Countryman has always had a specific job to do – and that’s been to add cargo space to one of the smallest cars on the road.

The new MINI has grown considerably in size since its relaunch under BMW and none come bigger or better than the second-generation Countryman, the winner of the Best Small SUV category in this year’s Business Motoring Awards.

It’s the biggest MINI ever, 20cm longer than the previous generation, five seats and a good size cargo area.

What’s more, being a MINI, it retains many of the drive and handling characteristics of its MINI siblings. Fun to drive and a suspension set-up with lots of chassis options – a stiffer sports, variable damping and electronically controlled ALL4 all-wheel-drive.

As with the all latest generation MINIs, cabin quality has been upped and a big improvement on the previous model.

There’s a very SUV look to the exterior as well with plastic wheel-arch extensions, roof bars and sill protectors.

Plenty of choice in the range as well including Cooper and Cooper S, petrol or diesel,  front drive or ALL4. The Cooper petrol is a three-cylinder, the rest are all four cylinder units.

There’s also the Countryman PHEV, great for company car users paying Benefit In Kind tax, this model has a really low official figure of 49g/km.

Interior equipment includes navigation, Bluetooth, emergency call and park sensors while you can upgrades to a bigger touch-screen nav with high-definition traffic, head-up display and various driver aids.

Compared with rivals, the Countryman’s purchase price undercuts the Mecedes GLA and is around the same as the Audi Q2 – so not the cheapest small SUVs on the market. There are also a lot of personalisation options which can bump up the price further.

There is the benefit of MINI’S TLCs fixed-price servicing (called TLC) and strong residual values. Automatic models are generally more economical and have lower CO2 emissions.

As for having a Countryman as a business vehicle, the plug-in hybrid Cooper S E works particularly well thanks to CO2 emissions of just 55g/km which is good for Benefit-in-Kind payments.

To find our more about the MINI Countryman click here

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