I recently had the opportunity to poke around the new Mini Countryman and, my word, what a ridiculous car. For starters it’s a fat old hector, not just for a Mini, but for any quasi-4×4. And secondly, this particular example cost over £30,000 which will get you a nice 997 Carrera S with not many miles on the clock. I have to ask, who would buy one?
The answer is quite a lot of people actually, and that’s a shame. See I won’t hide my prejudices here; I’ve never ‘got’ the whole contemporary Mini styling/brand thing. For me it represents the typical new-build-estate 2-car-household whose concept of ‘making it’ means a pointless, insipid marketing role and the ability to watch Big Brother on a 55-inch plasma screen. The Countryman is just a further extension of a more-money-than-sense culture.
I won’t lie, I haven’t read any reviews and don’t really intend to. Even if it’s as agile and well-sorted as an Elise with the off-road nous of a Disco, I’d still want to slap its rotund Prescott face for being so expensive and so prosaically ‘cool’.
It seems Mini and the monster that is BMW can get away with producing the most futile designs in modern car-making. X1, X3 – they have no purpose, they’re just a sub-niche of a sub-niche. Imagine the mockery that Renault, for example, would receive should they want to raise the ride-height of a Clio by 6-inches and then attach 4 acres of plastic to the front and rear bumpers.
I’m in the minority, I know, but will history look back on Mini iterations like the Countryman with any degree of fondness? Will they achieve classical status? I suspect not. They represent a period where we threw money at a fashion item and forgot about practical, graceful design.