Mini Grows Up

Larger, but still cute, the little one makes some big strides

BY MICHAEL FRANK

With Minis, you expect sharp, superb-handling cars. With the BMW subbrand’s new Cooper S Countryman ALL4, you get that and something more — practicality. Don’t worry Mini fans: Just because 6-foot-tall adults can comfortably sit in the back seat doesn’t mean the British carmaker has ditched its values at valet parking. 

The car’s quick steering and precise handling made it a blast to carve around the roads near Mini’s Oxford, England, headquarters during testing. The punchy, 189-hp turbocharged four-cylinder under the bonnet purrs at idle but lets out a nice, growly roar when you flatten your right foot. In addition to the roomier second row, we really appreciated the quite large cargo hold. We had enough room to pack three large suitcases aboard and still fit four passengers in our test car. 

Another update: This one rides just a bit higher, so you can see in traffic — and other drivers see you, too — which makes highway travel less intimidating than in previous Minis. From $31,100. miniusa.com

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