MINI described its new Countryman model as the ‘biggest and most versatile model to be launched in the brand's 57-year history' and after many miles driving around the South Wales countryside in the car I couldn't agree more.
Despite having the largest dimensions of any MINI with ample room inside for five adults, the car still oozes all the characteristics associated with the marque and that translates into fun, fun and yet more fun.
It's a vehicle that always turns heads and this car was supplied in British Racing Green which certainly helps it stand out in any crowd.
It was priced at £25,450, but optional extras bumped up the asking price to £35,740 which is quite a steep fee for a MINI.
In fact, it's into Land Rover Discovery Sport territory. But you will get a car that is packed with lots of premium kit and drives like a demon.
Attention-grabbing features include 18-inch black alloys, adaptive LED headlights, roof rails, tinted windows, a contrasting black roof with black door mirror caps and the word COUNTRYMAN spread proudly across its rear end.
The inside features an elegant, clutter-free, yet premium styling with bundles of techno treats to explore.
The Countryman comes fitted with leather sports seats that can be heated, an excellent sat nav system, Bluetooth connectivity, wireless charging, automatic air conditioning and plenty more besides. And, of course, as is MINI's tradition there's the array of toggle switches.
Despite its ultra-modern design, the car still maintains its hallmark massive central dial that is a not-so-subtle hint to days gone by when the circular dial contained the speedo. Now it houses the likes of the sat nav and multi-media system and is surrounded by an LED ring that changes colour according to driving modes and performance.
The latest Countryman is 20cm longer than its predecessor and the wheelbase has grown by an extra 7.5cm and that translates into extra room inside.
The second row features three full-sized seats and the rear door openings have been enlarged making it easier to get in and out of the car.
Back seat passengers are also treated to an extra 5cm of knee room and these seats can be shifted back and forth up to 13cm so leg or boot space can be maximised as required.
And talking of boot space, the new Countryman has a capacity of 450 litres which can be increased to 1,309 litres with the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
The boot is accessed via an electric tailgate and one of the options fitted to the car was a picnic bench costing £250 that folds out from the luggage compartment and provides seating for two people.
In addition, there are door pockets in the front and back that are big enough to hold one litre bottles, there are two cup holders and a central storage compartment for hiding away bits and bobs.
The car was powered by a 2.0-litre, 150ps diesel engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. It could reach 62mph from a standing start in 8.8 seconds and topped out at 127mph.
According to official figures, the combined fuel economy is 58.9mpg with carbon emissions of 132g/km.
So, the latest MINI Countryman certainly looks the bee's knees and is packed to bursting with kit, but how does it perform when put to the test? The answer is very well indeed.
Admittedly, it doesn't have the same dynamism of some its smaller siblings in the MINI range, but for a compact SUV this car is a delight to throw around.
Put the car into sport mode and it seems to really come alive with lots more driver feedback along with sharper driving dynamics.
MINI has always been judged on its outstanding handling based on its go-karting heritage, and although the Countryman is a large unit, it still delivers a performance-packed drive.
The acceleration is sharp, the body roll almost non-existent and the road-holding is flawless. And when you factor in the ALL4 all-wheel-drive set-up then even an unexpected cold snap won't cause any issues.