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New York show: Updated Mini Countryman debuts

Country life: The facelifted Mini Countryman features a restyled grille and subtle updates to the cabin.

Facelifted Mini Countryman crossover brings efficiency gains, subtle styling tweaks

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Mini logo16 Apr 2014

MINI has revealed a mild mid-life update of the Countryman crossover ahead of its New York motor show premiere this week,with subtle tweaks to the exterior and cabin and better fuel efficiency the headline changes.

Local timing for the updated Countryman is unclear, but a global roll-out in July this year suggests a quarter three or four debut for the high-riding Mini in Australian showrooms.

The compact SUV gains a newly designed grille with some variants adding chrome accents, new LED fog-lights with daytime running lights and restyled alloy-wheels, while ALL4 all-wheel drive variants now feature an underbody guard.

Mini has added a number of new exterior paint colours to its palette, including metallic Jungle Green, Midnight Grey and Starlight Blue and new customisation options mean more choice of contrasting colours for the mirror caps, bonnet stripes and roof.

Some engineering work has been completed to improve noise levels in the cabin and Mini has redesigned some of the controls, while the engine and road speed display now features dark “anthracite” coloured dials which is a design theme taken from the John Cooper Works performance variant.

Other updates to the crossover's cabin include the inclusion of chrome flourishes for the air vents, the addition of the latest Mini Connected infotainment system and John Cooper Works logos on the instrument panel of the JCW version.

Under the skin, Mini has carried over the same PSA-produced petrol and diesel powertrains, however the 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that powers the Countryman S has been tweaked for a 5kW boost in power to 140kW/240Nm.

This has improved the 0-100km/h sprint time by 0.1 seconds for a new time of 7.5 seconds and a new top speed of 218km/h, up 3km/h over the outgoing model.

Despite the boost in power, fuel consumption for the Countryman S has dropped to 6.0 litres per 100 kilometres on the European combined cycle, a reduction of 0.6L/100km over the current model.

Improvements to fuel economy can be seen in other variants, such as the standard petrol Countryman which has dropped from 6.5L/100km to 5.9L/100km, while the SD oil-burner now sips 4.5L/100km, down from 4.9L/100km.

The SD is also now slightly quicker from a standing start to 100km/h, with a 9.2-second dash time down from 9.4 seconds and the regular D's 0-100km/h time drops 0.4 seconds to 10.5 seconds and fuel economy in this variant is down by 0.2L to 4.2L/100km.

The new three- and four-cylinder BMW-developed engines that power the new Mini hatch that launched in Australia this week may have to wait until the next full-model changeover for the Countryman a few years from now.

Since its launch in mid-2011, the Countryman has maintained steady sales in Australia, averaging between 40 and 50 sales per month.

Last year, Mini sold 509 units of the Countryman, marking a slight 1.4 per cent dip over its 2012 result. Sales have increased in the first three months of 2014, with 82 units shifted to the end of March for a 20.6 per cent increase on the same period last year.

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