Countryman, or Juke!

Today I headed down to MINI of Peabody for their “MINI Rocks The Rivals” day – a chance to drive the new MINI Countryman, and other cars that MINI USA consider to be “rivals”; I had the chance to drive a Nissan Juke! It makes even the Countryman’s headlights look good!

The Nissan Juke interior is very cheap plastic, it doesn’t look very good at all, and it’s awful to drive – steering was so disconnected, and the CVT transmission gave a very strange acceleration experience, though I suppose it’s possible to get used to it. Of course, it’s hard to call this a “rival” when it costs thousands less! Maybe that’s why MINI USA are offering a $1,000 discount to everyone that participates in the test drive.


After the Juke, I skipped the Toyota RAV 4 and VW Tiguan, and got in to a Countryman – an ALL4, but in the not-so-great semi-red color … I still don’t like those headlights, and it struck me today how huge and plain the rear hatch is – definitely needs some more badging, or decals. Inside the finish is way better than the Juke – but I still had trouble with the stereo controls. Better position for the volume knob now, but those two knobs right next to each other, doing very different things, is confusing. Turn one to adjust volume, but turn the other to adjust bass/treble/etc:

Of course the Countryman drove much better than the Juke, and offered great connectivity to the road with good steering and a responsive engine. Unfortunately, I’m not comparing the Countryman to that, but to my Q5! Rear visibility when I reversed in to parking was very poor (no backup camera option from MINI either), and while the stereo sounded good, it didn’t sound great.
On the other hand, the ride is much better on our potholed roads than my GP, pretty close to the Q5 ride; reasonably quiet interior too.

In conclusion I think the Countryman is a great car at it’s price – but I’d have some trouble switching from something that cost half as much again!

Thanks to MINI USA and MINI of Peabody for a fun afternoon!

11 thoughts on “Countryman, or Juke!

  1. You mention Juke and Jazz. Over here the Jazz is a baby size, not heard of a Juke! Those lights seem fairly common to a lot of vehicles, streamlining maybe!! Beamers always make a good comparison and I would say very little between them and Audi Marque (VW/Skoda).

  2. The Juke is just plain ugly. I think they’re gunning for the Aztek’s ‘ugliest car on the road’ award…

    The back of the Countryman doesn’t need more badging – it needs more glass..!! They’ve really taken the high waistline to extremes on this car. Maybe it looks better in person, but I really don’t like the direction MINI are going with their styling. I don’t get the step down in the top of the window line behind the rear doors – the rear quarter window looks so small it may as well not be there. I don’t link the MINI center stack design these days either. I guess it’s better to have the volume up on the big speedo than down on it’s own like it was, but that vertical center stack still looks like a lot of wasted space to me.

    Of the cars you mentioned that MINI had lined up as rivals, I think I’d have picked the Tiguan. I haven’t driven one, but I’ve been very impressed with my GTI. I wonder where the Q3 will line up in price too? I think MINI would have more to fear from the VW/Audi group than from the Juke…

  3. Ian must be typing on an iPad. 🙂 Ian, you seem to have replace “Jazz” with “Juke”, but there are a bunch of places where “Jazz” appears to be missing.

    The Juke’s hideous. So’s the X6. If you it catches me by surprise I think the Countryman’s not bad looking, but that picture above of the back really shows just how big, bloated, and awkward it is. I keep coming back to that ridiculous MINI logo/handle. It’s like the size of my face!

    The more I see of MINI’s current crop of cars, the more I love my R53.

  4. Correct, Brian – iPad typing is catching me sometimes! I need to do some desktop spelling fixes 🙂
    And I don’t know where all the other “Juke”s went, but I put them back!

    On the Countryman the badge has to be that big, while the back is such a mass of plain steel. It’s the only thing there is to break it up.

  5. I was thinking about this some more. The Juke may just be there to make the Countryman look good. The RAV4 is a yawn on wheels (my mom has one that I drive when they come visit; it’s all I can do to stay awake); it’s also like half-again the length of the Countryman, isn’t it? I haven’t driven the Tiguan, but I could probably get to like it. VW’s interiors are pretty nice, and the styling isn’t offensive…

  6. I can’t even bear to look at the Juke in print ads. Nissan just does extreme styling for attention these days, not for taste.

    I actually really like the looks of the X6, always looks great on the road. The issue is its insane price, and Clarkson put it that’s an awful lot to pay for something that is not particularly good at anything.

    Of course there a ton of other cars in the small ute segment now, but are there any good ones?

  7. Love the X6 but as Top Gear suggested it’s useless, the Juke is a joke, I like the crazy red you don’t like and as far as the rump on the Countryman, at the Dragon most had stripes and looked fine. The red sorta looks what we used America Red or vermillion.

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