The Mini Countryman captures all the fantastic qualities of the Mini Cooper and puts it in a perfect family package.
63 Church Street East
Price: Starts at $62,000
The traditional Mini was always seen as a snazzy sportsmobile that was perhaps more suited to a couple or the successful businessman or woman.
The Countryman manufactures have adapted, lengthened and widened the two-door version and created a great family car that does not compromise on the good looks and speed that you would expect from a Mini.
It is a great car to drive and a beautiful machine to look at.
The big difference with the Countryman is in the space department — there is loads of it.
The Countryman is a four-door species with lots of room in the back for a couple of kids and maybe even a dog if you do not mind the hair and a bit of slobber getting on the luxurious leather interior.
It is a class E car and boasts a powerful two-litre engine that gives it swift acceleration from a standing start.
This new model will set you back around $62,000 from Ultimate Motors in Hamilton.
That may sound like a hefty price tag but you need to remember that Minis boast cutting edge technology and are one of the safest vehicles on the road.
The Countryman has done away with a traditional key and replaced it with a button start and disc-shaped ignition trigger.
The ‘key’ fits into a little slot by the driver’s knee and a simple press of the start button will see you on your way.
Sitting in the front of the Countryman feels a bit like being a pilot.
Not only do you have a handbrake that looks more like the take-off lever of a Boeing 747 but you also have a front seat arm rest and Bluetooth capability too, so you have hands-free access to your cellphone.
That is good for lots of reasons — but most importantly you won’t be tempted to put the phone to your ear as you are behind the wheel.
Simple at heart
Then there is the monster speedometer that is right in the middle of the car — and looks a little bit like a jukebox.
But despite these slightly aeronautical features the Countryman is a simple car at heart.
It is an automatic vehicle and comes with all the usual ‘mod cons’ like air conditioning, remote windows and power steering.
It is easy to manoeuvre in small spaces and shifts smoothly between the gears.
You also have the use of a great stereo system which is iPod compatible.
The Mini Countryman is a mean looking machine — its block shape design makes it safe and secure while the front grill gives it a bad boy edge.
But essentially it is a cosy family car. It is fitted with front seat airbags, and just in case you take a while to get used to the bigger size of the Countryman it comes with a park-easy system which beeps with increased frequency to let you know how close you are to the car behind you.
There are also rails for a roof rack to pile all your goodies on if you head out for a day at the beach.
And if you are after a little bit of luxury the Countryman comes with seat warmers in the front to ease your aching back on a cold morning.
Jesse Graham, manager of Ultimate Motors said: “The Countryman is the car many Mini fans have been waiting for because it fills that gap between the classic Mini and a modern sports activity vehicle.
“The two-door Mini isn’t practical for everyone — especially if you have a big family — but the Countryman not only offers the sporty handling that people love about Mini but also the space and functionality you would expect from a much bigger family car.”