City slicker

Print Edition: December 2012

BMW Mini Cooper S Countryman
Price: Rs  40,03,900
Specs: 135 kW/184 hp 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine; 1,598 cc; 210 km/h; 0-100 in 7.9 seconds; Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with hydraulic 2-circuit brake system with Antilock Brake System (ABS); electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and Cornering Brake Control (CBC).

Driving a car as iconic as the BMW Mini Cooper can be an exhilarating experience, every time. When we took the new BMW Mini Cooper Countryman for a spin we pretty much knew what to expect, but there was an element of surprise all along the way.

The Countryman is undoubtedly a very powerful car, it is also a very young car. So you have a sunroof in case you want to let your hair fly. Then there is the state-of-art entertainment system that incorporates your phones so that you drive safe all the time. The visual boost system built into the central speedometer lets you take control of your music as you would on a top of the range audio system. It lists all the radio station, you music files and, in case you are synced using the iPhone app, even Twitter and Facebook updates. The music is top notch, even with just FM radio, and that is because of the Harman/Kardon hi-fi loudspeaker system that powers the car. It is as if the engine and the speakers have a small competition of their own to see who performs best.

The comfort access system means there is no conventional key in this car. Just push the small system disk into the key slot and press the start button to rev up the car. The moment it fires up, the robust notes of the engines assures you that this one has what it takes. Though we tested an automatic, there was no lag as far as pickup was concerned. In fact, at times we had to stop ourselves from giving it too much juice, after all we had strict speed limits to adhere to even on the expressway. It takes a jiffy to push this car to 100 kmph, and you know that you can double this speed with as much ease. Even beyond 100 kmph, the car just wants more and doesn't for a second feel like it's doing anything more than a late evening errand. The handling is also slick and stable, especially when you are handling ugly city traffic

Despite being a hatchback, the Countryman is a stunner on the roads. And this is a distinction that not all hatchbacks can claim, at least not those that we have on the roads. But then the Countryman is a premium hatchback, miles ahead of the small family cars we love here. There are lots of people who customise their cars to look like the Mini, but this is the real thing and you know that the moment you come close. Inside, there is luxury feel to everything, from the plush leather seats to the 6-5-inch central speedometer LCD which is the hub of your entertainment as well as all car data. There are buttons everywhere, making you feel like you are sitting in the cockpit of a fighter jet. The seats too play along with this deception , being firm and comfortable at the same time, in a way preparing you for take-off. There is quite a bit of chrome inside, but very stylish and not at all jarring. Those sitting in the rear seats might not enjoy the drive all that much, but then this is not a car in which the owner will be driven around.

A good dose of power and style-if you can afford it.

Text by Nandagopal Rajan
Photographs by Rajwant Rawat

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