When we saw this morning that the Mini Countryman and Paceman Cooper crossovers would be getting optional all-wheel drive for the first time, we actually kinda sorta got excited about it. In the U.S., the base Mini Paceman and Countryman have always had just front-wheel drive. If you wanted an All4 model, you’d have to step up to the Cooper S version, adding 60 horsepower by way of a turbocharger, totaling 181.
Pokey as it may be, for those who’ve braved the winters of the Midwest and Northeast, you know all that adding a few hundred pounds to the 121-horsepower standard models would be well worth the tradeoff for a little slick-road security. Alas, it’s not to be on our side of the pond.
Mini representatives say the “unique driving conditions” of the U.S. market don’t make it too viable here. That’s to say that paying nearly $25,000 for a slow, heavy little crossover isn’t exactly what Mini is going for in the U.S. Mini estimates that the Countryman and Paceman All4 will be able to accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 11.8 to 11.9 seconds with a manual transmission. The six-speed automatic shaves about two tenths off those times. By contrast, a Mini Paceman Cooper S All4 can hit 60 mph in a brisk 7 seconds or so.
Of course, Mini will offer both manual and automatic versions of all of its crossovers in Europe. It even has smaller engines and more efficient diesel engines overseas that we’ve never gotten. Perhaps all-wheel drive will find its way into the standard Cooper models eventually, but don’t count on it for a while. Mini drivers expect far more performance in the U.S. than what the base engine with a good amount of added heft can deliver.