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Promoted | The new MINI Countryman: enjoy an epic forest adventure

Autocar Thursday, 17 September 2020
Explore the UK's woodlands in the new MINI Countryman

Explore the UK’s woodlands in MINI’s family-size SUV, with our pick of the best spots for stargazing, mountain-biking, wild camping and glamping

Like the spacious family-size new MINI Countryman SUV, Britain is bigger than you think. With epic mountains, amazing forests, rugged coasts, scenic lakes, thrilling cities and inspiring culture, there are lots of great destinations for a break with a difference with family and friends – and the new MINI Countryman is perfect for it all.

With room for five, up to 1390 litres of versatile luggage space, and plenty of ways to customise your MINI to make it even more stylish or even more practical, the new MINI Countryman is a real all-rounder. Add in the option of ALL4 all-wheel-drive or an efficient Plug-in Hybrid with 26 miles of low-impact electric range, and you’ve got true go-anywhere ability – without being afraid about heading off the beaten track.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with the new MINI Countryman to help you scale up your next holiday adventure, with inspirational ideas for activities and destinations that help you supersize any UK staycation. First up: delving into the depths of the UK’s forests for a night of stargazing, a day of mountain-biking, or a wild camping or glamping weekend.

*For more inspiring big British adventures or to find out more about the new MINI Countryman, head to minicountryman.whatcar.com*

*Explore the night skies*

With longer nights and milder weather, autumn and spring are perfect for stargazing, and Britain has a wealth of remote Dark Sky locations from which to admire the cosmos without the disruption of city lights. With a spacious luggage bay that can expand from 450 litres to 1390 litres and versatile seating for five that offers a choice of 40:20:40 split-rear seats or a sliding bench, the new MINI Countryman has all the space you need for family, friends and a telescope. Or, simply recline your seat and stargaze in style through the panoramic sunroof.

The Galloway Forest, just south of Glasgow, was one of the first UK locations to gain Dark Sky status, thanks to its 300sq miles of undisturbed forest. As a result, the *Scottish Dark Sky Observatory* is one of Britain’s top stargazing spots, boasting impressive telescopes that offer the perfect intro to the night skies. Alternatively, head across the Scottish border to Kielder Forest, just north of Newcastle, and the stunning-looking *Kielder Observatory* – an amazing venue where they’ll give you a stellar view of the Moon and stars, as well as some great after-dark lectures from astronomical experts.

Both locations are accessible by car, but you’ll be heading up steep, slippery gravel roads – perfect terrain for the new MINI Countryman’s optional ALL4 all-wheel-drive system and its powerful TwinPower Turbo engines. Even better, with powerful LED headlights as standard, and the option of Adaptive LED headlights which use matrix technology to offer intelligent automatic high beam, you can cut through the pitch black on your way back down.

If you’re looking to stargaze a bit closer to home, there are plenty of other locations around the UK that are ideal. *Exmoor* and *Dartmoor* have a wealth of sheltered stargazing spots, while the *South Downs* offers stargazers from London and the South East their best chance of unpolluted skies. Usk Reservoir is the perfect spot for enjoying the Dark Skies of the *Brecon Beacons* in South Wales, while the *Peak District* and the *North Yorkshire Moors* also offer great views of the night skies if the conditions are right.

Alternatively, if you want to go that bit further, travel to the northernmost point of the UK in the *Shetland Islands*, and you’re only 400 miles south of the Arctic Circle. That gives you almost as good a chance of seeing the Northern Lights as in Iceland or Scandinavia.

*For more inspiring big British adventures or to find out more about the new MINI Countryman, head to minicountryman.whatcar.com*

*Tackle the best forest cycling trails*

A vast expanse of forest is the perfect backdrop for a day on the pedals. Whether you’re looking for peaceful serenity or exhilarating jumps and big air, the UK is awash with forest trails for cyclists of all abilities to conquer. And, with a wide range of roof rail and bike rack accessories, the new MINI Countryman offers a wealth of ways in which to carry the rides for your family and friends, while the five-seat interior has enough space for your crew.

*BikePark Wales**, *just north of Cardiff, is home to over 40 diverse woodland biking trails in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons. With everything from beginner trails to jumps, dips and tree-dodging turns, this centre has it all. *Whinlatter Forest* in the Lake District, is England’s only true mountain forest. With miles of sprawling woodland, it boasts unrivalled views across Bassenthwaite Lake and is home to the region’s longest trails.

Then there’s *Laggan Wolftrax*, which offers 20 miles of purpose-built bike trails hidden deep within Laggan Forest in the heart of Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park, with spectacular views of the Monadhliath Hills. Or, for a different kind of forest, head to *Whitelee Windfarm*, just south of Glasgow. It’s Britain’s biggest wind farm, with 215 turbines and over 80 miles of free-roam tracks to be explored. Scything your way under giant turbines provides a completely new biking experience that you won’t forget anytime soon.

Finally, if it’s something simple you’re after, there are plenty of easier trails out there. *Kielder Forest*, just north of Newcastle, sports the Borderline Cycle Trail – an 11km run along a former railway track. With smooth ground and little undulation, it’s perfect for the family.

*For more inspiring big British adventures or to find out more about the new MINI Countryman, head to minicountryman.whatcar.com*

*Camping with a difference*

There are only two ways to go camping: either embrace the wild, or go posh with a quirky glamping site that offers many of the mod cons and comfort of a hotel. Luckily, with seating for up to five and luggage space that can expand from 450 litres to 1390 litres, the new MINI Countryman offers you, your friends or family enough space to pack for rain and style.

In Scotland, free-roam laws mean you can ‘*wild camp*’ pretty much anywhere – so long as you respect the land you’re pitching on. With backdrops ranging from the Highland munros of Gleann Na Muice to the stunning Peanmeanach Beach and Quiraing mountain on the Isle Of Skye, Scotland is pretty much your oyster. The new MINI Countryman’s optional Activity Pack – featuring an automatic tailgate, luggage compartment netting, sliding rear seats and a picnic bench – gives you the perfect support for your wild adventure.

When it comes to glamping, there’s a real wealth of choice for original destinations. *Atlantic Surf Pods* in Bude, Cornwall, boasts stunning modern curvy wood cabins with underfloor heating and large beds and an outdoor dining area with a barbecue, while *Happy Days Retro Vacations* in East Dorset offers a choice of caravans – ranging from cosy classic British compacts to huge iconic American aluminium Airstream models.

*Crafty Camping*, also in Dorset, has a huge wooden treehouse that has won a host of design awards, as well as compact tipis and large yurts – all with large beds. You can either explore the nearby Jurassic Coast, or fettle your own spoon with a woodworking course. *Blackberry Wood* in West Sussex goes one better, with the choice of a fairy tale treehouse, a double-decker London bus and a converted Wessex helicopter (all of which makes it much easier to remember which one you’re in).

You can really go back to nature in style at the *Red Kite Tree Tent* in Powys, South Wales, with a tent that literally hangs from the trees – albeit with the comfort of a woodburning stove and outside shower and cooking facilities. Finally, *Tahuna Bothies*, just north of Edinburgh, offers astounding sea views through the ceiling-to-floor double-glazed wall that dominate its modern ‘bothies’.

*For more inspiring big British adventures or to find out more about the new MINI Countryman, head to minicountryman.whatcar.com*

*The new MINI Countryman: The big MINI. Now better than ever.*

The new MINI Countryman SUV is the biggest, most versatile member of the MINI family. It blends stylish looks and a spacious, high-tech, five-seat interior with between 450 litres and 1390 litres of highly flexible and adaptable luggage space – while also offering a wealth of ways to customise your car your way, making it feel even more premium or even more practical.

Add in the ability to choose confidence-inspiring optional ALL4 all-wheel-drive and a Plug-in Hybrid engine that delivers up to 26 miles of all-electric running and impressive fuel efficiency, and you’ve got the perfect partner for big adventures with family and friends.

*Elegantly spacious; eminently practical*

The new MINI Countryman has become a well-loved staple of British roads in the last 10 years, thanks to its standout style, oodles of space and flexible rear seating, as well as a fun driving character that has made it a favourite for families and car-lovers alike. Now, the new MINI Countryman is even better and even more practical.

With seating for five and 450 litres of boot space as standard, there’s plenty of room to ferry friends, family and all their luggage. But the new MINI Countryman’s designers have thought about lots of extra clever ways to squeeze every inch of practicality into the car.

The standard-fit 40:20:40 folding rear seats offer up to 1390 litres of storage when folded flat, with the ability to push long loads such as skis through the middle while still seating two rear passengers in comfort. The large tailgate makes it easy to load bulky items, while the four luggage compartment lashing eyes helps you keep your load secure.

The optional Activity Pack adds an ‘Easy Opener’ hands-free automatic tailgate that makes loading even more effortless, as well as adding a sliding rear bench seat that offers a different way to configure your luggage space and a picnic bench that is perfect for days out with the family.

Original MINI Accessories offer plenty of further options for personalisation or practicality – including rear-mounted bicycle racks, and accessories for the standard-fit roof rails that let you load sports gear or a roof box for even more luggage space on longer trips.

*Style that stands out*

Don’t think that the new MINI Countryman is all work and no play, though. MINI is known for its attitude-oozing style, and the new MINI Countryman lets you choose from 10 vibrant paint colours, contrasting roof and mirror caps, five different bonnet stripes, 11 alloy wheel designs and a host of different interior trim materials. It’s your car, to mould your way.

Interior mood lighting lets you set the scene with a choice of 12 basic colours and 700 shades, while the Union Jack rear lighting arrangement helps you stand out from the crowd. On Cooper S, John Cooper Works and ALL4 all-wheel-drive models, a body-coloured bonnet scoop and twin tailpipes convey your sporty side. Chrome accents – inside and out – scream class, while the rugged trims and raised-up body show that this SUV (and its driver) mean business.

*Tech that keeps you connected*

The new MINI Countryman’s abundance of advanced in-car tech makes solo or family journeys even more fun, while helping you stay connected to friends, colleagues and loved ones.

A bold 5-inch digital display cockpit and a large 8.8-inch central touchscreen with MINI Navigation and Real Time Traffic Information are fitted as standard, while the optional head-up display puts even more key information directly in the driver’s eye-line. The new MINI Countryman’s DAB radio has six speakers for impressive sound, while Bluetooth, a USB port and Apple CarPlay let you connect compatible smartphones for music, calls or apps.

MINI ConnectedDrive gives you the ability to search online, while the Navigation Plus Pack adds a second USB port, enhanced Bluetooth with wireless charging and Amazon Alexa voice control. You can fit an impressive 12-speaker Harman Kardon Hi-Fi system, too

The Comfort Pack adds automatic air-conditioning and heated seats, and if you opt for the heated front windscreen or the panoramic glass sunroof – which floods the interior with even more natural light – the new MINI Countryman feels as lavish to drive as it is practical.

*Performance with punch and efficiency*

MINI has always been renowned for its highly engaging driving character, and the new MINI Countryman doesn’t compromise its fun factor for SUV status. A range of powerful and economical engines – using MINI’s TwinPower Turbo technology – work with a responsive chassis to make the new MINI Countryman a nimble road-hugger, while optional ALL4 all-wheel drive delivers added confidence on slippery trails.

With petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid variants, there’s an engine to suit every need, whether it’s the turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol with 134bhp, or the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel with 258lb ft of torque – delivering impressive pulling power for when the car is packed with people and luggage. For even punchier performance, the turbocharged 175bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine in new MINI Countryman Cooper S models delivers 0-62mph in just 7.5 seconds, while maintaining an impressive combined economy figure of 42.8mpg.

Finally, the new MINI Countryman Plug-in Hybrid delivers the best of all worlds, with up to 26 miles of rechargeable all-electric range, impressive combined fuel economy up to 166.2mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 39g/km. And don’t think it compromises driving fun. The Plug-in Hybrid is fitted with a hybrid-specific all-wheel-drive system for added grip and with a combined output of 217bhp and near-instant electric punch delivering 284lb ft of torque, you have a hot hatch-baiting 0-62mph performance of 6.8 seconds.

*Standout safety*

The new MINI Countryman hosts a range of driving aids and safety tech to make journeys easier and more relaxing, while keeping you and your passengers protected and safe.

Powerful LED headlights and fog lights are fitted as standard to help you cut through the dark, while you can choose to add Adaptive LED headlights with matrix technology to better illuminate bends and automatically dip the lights for other traffic. Rain sensors and automatic headlight activation help you safely carve a path through the strongest storm, while automatic emergency braking, ABS and stability control keep you on the straight and narrow.

And, when you reach your destination, the new MINI Countryman features rear parking sensors as standard, but the Comfort Plus pack adds a rear camera, front parking sensors, automatic Parking Assistant and folding mirrors. It’s that finishing touch to the perfect adventure.

*For more inspiring big British adventures or to find out more about the new MINI Countryman, head to minicountryman.whatcar.com*
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