BMW’s sister brand has been around for a few years, but have you ever wondered why the perfect city car is all but absent from our city roads?
Well, the Mini brand was never about accessibility but more about exclusivity and making a lifestyle statement. So much so that a lot of enthusiasts just couldn't justify its frightening price tag that was precariously close to a pukka sedan like the BMW 3-Series or Mercedes-Benz CLA and Audi A3.
But things could change for the mixed-identity legend soon. BMW India has dropped prices for all its India-bound Mini models and also quietly launched a facelifted Countryman. Purists always used to loathe the Countryman for its bloated dimensions and high seating position, but there is no denying its added practicality and load-carrying capacity. Now Mini has given it a thoroughly modern makeover that includes a hexagonal grille, redesigned bumpers, LED fog lights, large 17in wheels and the usual smattering of Mini quirkiness.
Amongst the biggest changes are an increased ground clearance, making it even more suitable for the battered roads in and out of the city. Step inside and the upgrades are more substantial in the features and safety department. The backseat now folds up in a 40:20:40 split, the drivetrain gets an updated 6-speed Steptronic transmission and efficient dynamic aids like auto engine start/stop and brake energy regeneration. Of course, the high-end safety acronyms like DSC, DTC, ABS, EBD and more are all present, helping you feel safe even at higher-than-go-karting speeds. Since this is a Mini, the engine plays a vital role in the overall enjoyment factor and the 4cyl turbodiesel engine is adequate, not optimum. The 112bhp with 270Nm allows it to finish the 100kmph sprint in 11.3 seconds, which is enough to take on other hatches on the traffic lights. What the others on the traffic light don’t have, though, is the Countryman’s attitude and feature list.
Now Mini India has disclosed the base price of the Countryman D as ₹36,50,000, but our lab rats specced it up in true Mini tradition with bonnet stripes, blacked-out panoramic sunroof, Harman Kardon 10-speaker 640-watt audio system, sports steering wheel with paddle shifts, Radio Mini visual boost with 6.5in screen, Mini Connected apps (but no Apple CarPlay yet) and, obviously, the 17in alloys. The price quickly swelled to upwards of ₹43 lacs (ex-showroom), so you’re still looking at close to half a crore for half a car. BMW’s price drop doesn’t seem so appealing when you want to tech up a Mini, and most target customers would like to since that is the very essence of the brand… customisation! The new Mini Countryman is available in Light White and Light Coffee non-metallic paintworks and a range of nine metallic paintworks including Blazing Red, Brilliant Copper, Royal Grey, Absolute Black, Crystal Silver, Cosmic Blue, Jungle Green, Starlight Blue and Midnight Grey.
The Mini Cooper S too is ₹3 lacs cheaper under the new pricing strategy and that is a tempting proposition at ₹31,50,000 now. The Countryman D, however, will form the chunk of sales due to its added room and practicality.