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MINI Cooper, Hatchback
#356 of 407 Thinking about buying a Countryman
Apr 20, 2012 (11:04 am)
I recently test drove a 2012 MINI Cooper Countryman, automatic FWD basic model and immediately fell in love. My husband has some concerns tho, so I thought I'd post some questions. Some background is that this car is for me (wife/mom) with last kid going away to college soon and taking my car. I've had that car for over 13 yrs. and have only put 74K miles on it, so I'm not one to do a lot of driving long distance in my next car. We're looking for something that's good with gas but don't need a Prius-type model since my husband commutes by train. I want something "fun" for a change after driving Mom Cars for so long, and the MINI fills the bill perfectly. But... here come the questions: 1) The "reliability" rating is 5 out of 10 but all other ratings are high. Why would the rating be so low? 2) Maintenance costs. I've read over the entire subject of all MINI models and see that some years may have had some problems but I'm not hearing much about either the Countryman or any models 2010 and over. Most of the negative feedback seems to be about the Countryman being a 4-door and bigger than the classic MINI's, which some people don't like. Other than that, not much is said about maintenance issues with the Countryman specifically, positive or negative. We understand that it could be expensive to maintain after the standard warranty expires but our mechanic said he can fix/maintain MINI's even tho he's only seen 2 come in in 20 years. (I take that to be a good sign!) Is there anything we should watch for, specifically? We are very good at maintaining our other cars and RV and haven't had any problems with them at all. 3) Gas. Do you have to use premium to get good performance and avoid engine problems, or can you use regular? 4) Overheating. We live in So. Calif. and we do get some pretty hot weather so there's a concern about doing desert driving or mountain driving in the summer as well as heavy traffic on freeways. Has that been a problem for anyone? 5) I love the sunroof option but do they ever leak? I haven't read anything about that issue. Does the AC perform well with models that have sunroofs? 6)Does the basic Countryman engine have the power to get up the occasional steep road/driveway or should I look into the "S" model? Does it accelerate fast enough to get on freeways, being that it's a 4-cylinder? I was only able to test it on city streets and there were no freeway on-ramps near the dealership. And 7) The run-flat tires. Do they work? I know they're more expensive but I don't mind not having the space to carry a spare. My husband on the other hand does, tho.
If anyone has knowledge that they'd share on this model of MINI, I'd really appreciate any good (or bad) feedback. Thanks!
#357 of 407 Re: Thinking about buying a Countryman [kandrive]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Apr 20, 2012 (11:41 am)
Well maintenance is about what you'd expect from a German car--it's going to be the same $$$ to keep up as a BMW---German parts and not all that easy a car to work on. That's why warranties on these cars are important.
I don't think you need an "S" model for normal driving, unless you or hubby really like to race around.
The run-flat tires are a bad idea IMO, so I'd plan to ditch them as soon as they wear out---they ride hard and you'll hear them, too. If there was an option to delete them, I'd do it.
As for reliability, MINIs have gotten better, it's true, but the early ones were pretty spotty. After 2006, they changed a lot of things.
Also like most German cars, as they age, plastic bits will fall off and break and weatherstripping may deteriorate, but that's far down the road.
Oh, sunroofs---they are a mixed blessing. No, they don't usually leak but they can break and if/when they do, they are expensive to fix. I like the airy feeling but I had to buy a windbreak, aftermarket, because the wind noise was just too loud.
They are very comfy to drive long distances, and they have plenty of room and great visibility.
#358 of 407 Re: Thinking about buying a Countryman [Mr_Shiftright]
Apr 22, 2012 (8:13 am)
Thank you so much for your reply. The more my husband researches the MINI, the more anxious he is about the reliability. On another forum about MINI's, his question was answered with "forget about it - buy a Subaru". Unfortunately, not a good sign for me as I had my heart set on one.
#359 of 407 Re: Thinking about buying a Countryman [kandrive]
Apr 22, 2012 (10:51 am)
We have owned a 2003 Mini Cooper S Hardtop since it was new, it has 151k miles on it, and we just ordered a new Countryman. My GF loves the current car, and was not interested in even test driving anything else. I tried to get her to test drive a Forester and a Tiguan, but after driving the Countryman for 10 minutes her mind was made up. Both of us really enjoy driving the current Mini, but as with the other German cars we have owned, it has not been trouble free. Itís not that there are constant problems, and itís not like the car will leave you stranded, but itís also not likely you will go 100k to 150k miles with no unusual issues, as you will hear from many Toyota and Honda owners. We are friends with at least two dozen other owners. We are willing to put up with a car that tends to need a few repairs over its life because itís just so much more fun to drive. To us a car is more than an appliance. Before we ordered the Countryman we spoke to at least a dozen owners of that model. Again, the cars are not exactly trouble free, but only one said he would not buy another if he had to do it all over. Sounds like the most serious issue with the Countryman (especially the all wheel drive models) is that for the manual transmission BMW used the same clutch as in the smaller Mini S models, and itís just not heavy duty enough for a car thatís 600-700 lbs, heavier. Lots of owners are complaining of smelling burning clutches and clutches that do not engage smoothly and need replacement within the first year. Sounds like you want an automatic, so that would not be an issue for you. Maintenance costs for Miniís are not significantly different versus other makes, and a 3 year 36k maintenance plan comes with the car. They are not particularly difficult to work on. Iíve done much of the normal maintenance myself. You do need to assume you will be using premium fuel. Iíve never heard of anyone with a cooling system problem with a Mini. The air in our í03 has always worked fine (and we have black car with a sunroof). So far as leaky sunroofs go, Iíve never heard of leaks on any car (Mini or otherwise), other than when owners allowed the drains to get clogged with leaves or other debris, or a gasket that was damaged through neglect. So far as engine power goes, thatís really a personal decision. You should take the time to drive one on the freeway. Based on the reported 0-60 acceleration times, I would think most people buying an automatic will want the turbo engine, and note that the base engine is not even offered with all wheel drive because of the added weight. Run flats usually do work as advertised, but they have a stiffer ride versus non flats because the sidewalls are designed to hold up the weight of the car without any air pressure. The demonstrator you drove had run flats. Did you object to the ride quality? We thought the Countryman that we drove rode very nicely. On the other hand our current car came from the factory with the sport suspension and run flats, and the ride was brutal. Several years ago we changed to non flats and carry a can of Fix a Flat. the other thing you need to know about runflats is that they often can not be repaired if damaged by a puncture, and they are generally more expensive to replace. Then again, how much is not likely being stranded by a flat worth? Hope my comments help.
#360 of 407 Re: Thinking about buying a Countryman [kandrive]
Apr 22, 2012 (11:21 am)
I found a good deal on a used 2011 All4 automatic a couple months ago. I had test driven the All4 manual and auto at the MINI dealer prior to this. So here are my thoughts so far.
1. As far as reliability, the 2011 Countryman was part of a recall that affected turbo cars for a cooling pump. This was a circuit board replacement at the dealer (painless). I have read of 'several' owners of manuals not being happy with the feel or action of the clutch pedal. I felt the same way on my test drive. My last 4 cars were stick and I actually liked this car better as an auto.
2. My 2011 still has warranty left and I stopped at the dealer specifically for the recall, but let them check the car over. I thought the level of service was very good. They did the recall work, found and replaced a leaking gasket and changed the oil. Cost...zip. But regular servicings under warranty are decided by the onboard computer. Reading the owner's manual, they are spaced out a bit on the long side. I will probably get some things done earlier on my own. I have seen some owners complaining (on MINI owner sites) about dealer service costs. I've owned German, Japanese and American cars. Hopefully my costs will be more like a VW than an Audi. If you have another car, maybe you can put up with a MINI that you love 98% of the time.
3. The S requires premium. Appears that the base does also. I do appreciate that it gets much better gas mileage than my AWD Subaru or Audi did. My around the neighborhood mpg has been 24-25.
4. Can't help you there. No problems that I know of.
5. I don't have the sunroof, so I can't say. A Cooper I drove for a day made me wonder if the shade was adequate to really block the sun out on days I really wanted to stay cool.
6. I think the turbo motor is just fine for the All4. But think the added weight of the Countryman is just too much for the base motor. Just my opinion. The base motor 0-60 times were sloooooow.
7. Runflats work. Runflats are also harsh at times. Add the sport suspension, 18" or 19" tires and some people might be unhappy. The Countryman doesn't have a spot for a spacesaver spare, but some MINI websites are selling them. There is also a 'compressor fix-a-flat' kit from Continental that I will probably get for more security. You should definitely try the runflats on roads you normally drive.
I like the car. It has just enough room for my needs. Gets better gas mileage than any AWD car/SUV with similar performance. It could never be described as boring. Options I would recommend (the blue tooth, xenons - I don't have them and wish I did and they're cheap as an option, I wouldn't have ordered the backup warning system - but it's actually quite good, the rail is stupid - at least go for the split or even opt for the bench). Hope that helps.
#361 of 407 Re: Thinking about buying a Countryman [kandrive]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Apr 22, 2012 (5:39 pm)
Subarus are generally very boring and they have had their issues, too, let me tell you. Been there, done that.
I hear the new Subaru BRZ is a hoot to drive, though, so you should give that a test drive.
#362 of 407 Re: Thinking about buying a Countryman [shark715]
Apr 24, 2012 (5:43 am)
Thanks, Shark715! This is really helpful info to help plead my case. I've test drove quite a few cars now and I can't help going back to the MINI Countryman - the ride isn't bad at all, as opposed to the Kia Sportage that Edmunds suggested, even with the run-flats. I doubt seriously that I'd get up to 100,000 mi. on the MINI in the next 15-20 yrs. - I have a Ford Explorer, brand new off the dealer floor that I've had since '99 and I only have 74K on that after 13 yrs. It's still going strong but will be leaving with our daughter when she goes off to college soon. This Countryman will pretty much be an "around town" car for me (adding in a little fun with some side-trips once in a while) and I'm not usually rough on my cars. We'd probably get the Base model Countryman and not opt for the "S" or All4, so I don't think we'd get the turbo, but I am a bit worried about how much power the Countryman has. We live in the foothills and we have some slightly steep terrain once in a while. The other cars I've tried (in this Class) all seem to have this same issue and are not as quick as the Countryman was at all (and also not FUN!). Also, we have 2 MINI dealerships within 15 miles of us, so warranty repairs/service wouldn't be a headache. These are all "pros" in my book. That being said, others are advising my husband that BMW parts are difficult to get, they are expensive and that there might be transmission problems with an automatic 6-speed that Countryman offers. Also, husband has heard that the turbos are a problem. He's getting all the negative feedback and I'm only hearing the good things so we've been going round and round on this. All replies to my questions have been extremely helpful, so thanks!
And btw - I really HATED the Subaru!!!
#363 of 407 Re: Thinking about buying a Countryman [kandrive]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Apr 24, 2012 (6:37 am)
the MINI aftermarket parts industry is quite healthy actually. Modern turbo technology is very reliable, too.
#364 of 407 one data point
Apr 24, 2012 (7:33 am)
Most anyone who posts here will typically have experience with one or possibly 2 MINIs.
FWIW, my daughter bought a 2007, new, and now was over 85,000 miles on it.
No reliability issues.
6 speed automatic has been fine.
Closest dealer to her [ she lives in Maine ] is over an hour drive away, in Boston.
She really, really wanted a MINI.
#365 of 407 Re: one data point [rayainsw]
Apr 25, 2012 (3:42 pm)
Agreed. My wife bought her 2005 Mini convertible 5-speed manual (non S model) new and has right at 70,000 miles on it.
I change the oil every 5K miles.
As far as maintenance issues go...
- Right top engine motor mount replaced
- Thermostat housing replaced (with a redesigned upgraded one)
- The part of the electronic dash that controls the clock, which continuously lost time.
- Power steering cooling fan with a redesigned upgraded one.
Out of warranty:
- Another right top motor mount
- Passenger seat airbag sensor
- Leaking power steering fluid supply hose
She also was able to get almost 50k miles out of the original RFTs.
The car has never left her stranded.
There's little doubt in my mind that she would have had less maintenance issues with a Toyota, but then again, she wouldn't have enjoyed driving it nearly as much.
And, the later designed models (2006 onward) have an overall better reliability history IIRC...