IF you asked me which model epitomised the great British love affair with everything MINI, then it had to be the jacked-up, beefed-up Countryman.
Forget the rest, for this was the "Big Daddy" of the range, the first to feature five doors, five seats and four-wheel-drive.
Yet the car still offered the same charm and all-round appeal that has been part of the MINI heritage that started way back in 1959.
Even now, six years down the road, the Countryman is a pretty unusual sight and that's why they create a bit of a buzz whenever they make an appearance.
Highly alluring with its 17-inch alloys, muscular three-piece grille, roof rails and wheel arches, side sills and under body protection, it certainly has what it takes in the looks department.
Inside, it's still MINI through and through, with the trademark circular theme from 1959 highlighted by the large round dial in the centre of the dash housing the speedo, fuel gauge and all the car's infotainment systems.
The rounded theme continues with oval door mirrors and rear-view mirror, while circular air vents and door handles finish it off.
Grown up almost beyond recognition and now owned by BMW, the MINI is a totally different kettle of fish from that of the original offering.
Launched in 2010, the Countryman was to become the fourth model in the MINI range, joining the Hatch, Convertible and Estate versions, all best-sellers in their own right.
And in another first for the brand, it was also available with a highly-efficient, part-time four-wheel-drive system, which kicks in when the going gets tough or when road conditions get slippy.
From day one, the original MINI offered fun, fun, fun all the way down the line and the Countryman is no different. It retains the same point and shoot dynamics as the rest of the range, even though it's taller and both wider and longer.
The Countryman came beautifully finished and nicely equipped, with air con, electric windows and mirrors and rear parking sensors all fitted as standard.
The oil-burning Cooper D ALL4 kicked off with a 1.6-litre engine which pumped out 110bhp and pulls 270Nm of torque.
These figures mean used buyers won't be disappointed with either the car's performance or consumption figures. Zero to 62mph in 11.6 seconds and a top speed of 112mph, while fuel consumption is a credible 60.1mpg on the combined cycle.
As a load lugger, there's masses of space inside ... well at least from a Mini perspective. With the rear seats up there's 450 litres waiting to be filled. Take the seats down and the space increases to a whopping 1,170 litres.
All MINI models are eagerly sought-after and prices hold up very well. A 2012 12-plate four-wheel-drive diesel 1.6-litre Cooper D ALL4 will cost anything from £8,920 to £11,530, while a 2013 13-plate will range from £11,480 to £15,045.
From 2011, MINI Cooper D ALL4 models were available with a 112bhp two-litre diesel engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. You will find these models have a premium of around £1,000 above those for a 1.6-litre example.
Source a model fitted with either an optional Media, Chilli or Pepper pack and that will add another £300 or so.