Mini Countryman

What happens when things go off track

When Nike makes an iPod shoe, Simon Cowell starts speaking or when Mini starts making bigger cars

This very un Mini creation is the most in-news British act apart from the World Cup debacle

Its big (not that big, but then, the reference is the tiny Cooper) and it looks soooo ‘wierdo good’

History : Mini did to us, what Leonardo Di Caprio did in Inception : To plant an idea in our minds. An idea of  “Small is beautiful”

This “Small is beautiful” Cooper has been Mini’s bread and butter for more than 5 decades and suddenly under the leadership of BMW (the current owners of Mini), they decided to break the box and bring the ‘Countryman’

The Car : It certainly is not small. 5 doors, longer wheelbase, higher ground clearance and the optional 4×4. This car is a result of the diversification Mini has initiated using its Clubman concept

Looks : So Mini , yet not so Cooper. A very intelligent attempt from the designers to distinguish the Countryman from its cousin and at the same time give it some character which reminds you of what it still is.

The front grille is more upright, the headlamps compliment the hood and the tall chin adds character. Rear doors have been included in the big yet compact design very precisely. Surprisingly the lack of shoulder crease or wheel arches makes it look lite and simple

Engine and Transmissions : The family of engines will be shared with the Coopers but the one to watch out for is the 1.6 Litre  4cyl, 184bhp which also has a decent 240lb ft of torque. Add the 4WD and a 6 speed auto / manual transmission and its an awesome package for a car of this dimensions

Interior and Practicality : It has loads of space to play with. Comparable with the BMW X1 (though the X1 is smaller as compared to the X3 , but this is a Mini, so any space more than cramped is good) and the BMW aspect is followed with the new bigger & more functional dash. Added colors and latest gadgets

The car is very road worthy as well. It has space, good engines and the 4WD adds value. A very practical proposition in the VW Golf territory with the Mini functionality

Appeal : Smart, grown up and new! And with Mini confirming its WRC ambitions with the Countryman, the car looks poised to attract people through its heroics on and off the track

Bottomline : A perfect combination of beauty (kind of) with brains. A good practical and capable machine from Mini which can also turn a few heads. Totally fresh n Totally worth buying!!

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Volvo S 80

Think of Sweden for a moment :

They gave us IKEA (which made man evolve from the stone age to a wooden age), Henrik Larsson (more remembered as Celtic and Barcelona guy) and also Volvo

Please ignore the Swedish heavy metal bands which make a lot of noise and fade away very soon

More known for their Buses and Trucks (BTW commercial vehicle division is completely independent of Cars), Volvo cars have always been known for being super practical , to the extent that Volvo’s are usually associated with community purposes (Families with more than 6 kids, Police cars, Pizza delivery and obviously Taxis)

But change all that when you come across their flagship S80

Based on the Ford Mondeo (it was developed when Volvo was owned by Ford) . The S80 was crafted to compete against the Germans (read Audi A6, Merc E and Bavarian 5 series)

Its a “not so fancy” car which is quite unique in the generation of very “loud and sharp” vehicles

Design : Very basic, does the job. Its a wooden tennis racquet  in the age of carbon fibre ones but sometimes wooden ones look better

Engines : This is where the Volvo matches everyone else. Numerous options available in Petrol and Diesel.

Petrols include a fantastic 3.2 Litre straight six developing a cool 238 horses and is coupled with a “All Wheel Drive” from Volvo which is quite different from the Quatrro of Audi’s ,yet interesting and delivers as promised

The other sweet sound option in petrol is the 315 horse V8…… sweet indeed

Diesels are more prefered in a car which is neither supposed to go fast or make a statement and the S80 doesn’t disappoint

Of the 5 diesels on offer, the 2.4 Litre inline 5 is the best and develops a very modest 175 bhp and 420 Nm of Torque

Safety :- Its bloody safer than an Israeli battle tank. There is no point debating its safety as Volvo’s are perhaps  the most safe set of wheels money can buy

Interiors :- S80 strikes big here. Old school but at the same time very functional. Looks cleaner than Monica Geller’s apartment.

Quality is top notch which even the Germans might envy. Its spacious and the rear seats are actually meant to be in for hours. Boot is humongous (You could put in a Mini Cooper inside)

Appeal :- You don’t care about that in a Volvo

Bottomline :- If you don’t believe in destiny, but do believe in salvation,  get a S80…..

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