Small doesn’t sell – or so went the old automotive axiom. But these days, automotive marketers are singing a different tune. Small is beautiful, and there’s no better example than the Mini.
Since it made its U.S. debut in 2002, BMW’s British brand has handily outperformed expectations. It’s also grown a bit, at least in terms of line-up, with additions like the Mini Open convertible. But is a larger car still capable of being a Mini? Or will the brand max out when the all-new 2011 Countryman rolls into showrooms? That’s a question that sent us scurrying over to Hamburg, Germany to test drive the maker’s latest addition.
Based on an all-new platform, the 2011 Mini Countryman isn’t just larger, it’s also the British marque’s first four-door model. And since we’re talking big changes here, the Countryman is also the brand’s first sport-utility vehicle. No, it’s not about to take on the Jeep Wrangler to see which is more adept at handling rugged courses like the Rubicon Trail, but as we discovered during two days of driving, the new model is reasonably capable on gravel, dirt and deep ruts, especially if equipped with the new Mini ALL4 all-wheel-drive system.