The 2016 MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 is a Riot in the Snow

January 26th, 2016 by

We’re in the dead of winter, and the northeast is getting pelted with wintry weather.  Amid the footage of struggling cars and SUVs, we can’t help but wonder “what if.”  What if everyone were driving the 2016 MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4?  What if 20-plus inches of snow meant turning the urban jungle into your (somehow legal) rally playground?

Thanks to Racing Legend John Cooper, the MINI brand has enjoyed decades of rich rallying heritage.  Even with front-wheel drive, both classic and modern MINIs have proven time and again that low weight and compact dimensions enhance driver involvement and, ultimately, control in all situations.  Flinging a classic MINI around the dirt would be fun, but barreling through knee-deep snow in a modern Countryman is an outright riot.

When accelerating from a standstill, the 2016 MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4’s all-wheel drive system channels power in a 50/50 split front/rear.  As speeds increase, so too does the percentage of power channeled to the front axle.  This is done primarily in the name of efficiency so that, at a steady highway cruise (say, 80 MPH), the engine only needs to work towards powering the front wheels.  When wheel slip is detected at any speed, however, up to 50 percent of the engine’s power can be re-directed towards the rear for enhanced stability.

The most surprising thing about the Countryman’s ALL4 system, however, is just how much stress it’s built to handle.  The rear differential, axles and associated drive hardware are designed to send nearly 300 lb-ft of torque to each of the rear wheels.  Being that the 2016 MINI Cooper S Countryman John Cooper Works (JCW) has 192 lb-ft in total, it’s reassuring to know that the system itself can handle stresses of more than three times that amount.

Furthering the Countryman ALL4’s all-wheel-drive system is a BMW-designed Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) suite.  Rather than simply “on” and “off,” the Countryman’s DSC employs three separate programs for ideal traction in all situations.  When the vehicle is started, DSC defaults to full-on, working to mitigate wheel slip and maintain total control however and wherever possible.  With a brief press of the toggle switch, DSC transitions to Dynamic Traction Control, or “DTC.”  DTC allows for a greater degree of wheel spin and vehicle slip angle while still working to maintain ultimate control, albeit at a higher threshold.  This mode is ideal for deep ruts, ice, or other minimal-traction-type situations.  As well, it’s fun to play with on slick surfaces when your MINI is in a controlled environment (i.e.; winter driving school or ice gymkhana).  With a four- to five-second hold of the toggle switch, DSC and DTC are fully defeated, allowing for full driver involvement towards control of the vehicle in all situations.

However explored, the 2016 MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 is a riot in the snow thanks to its incredibly flexible and advanced all-wheel-drive and stability control systems.  To see the system in action, stop by our MINI showroom at 5700 S. Broadway, Littleton, CO when the snow starts falling.  We’d love to take you on an unforgettable (and safe) test drive that’s sure to show just how capable this not-so-mini MINI really can be.

Posted in Tech, Vehicles