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New MINI Countryman takes on Mercedes, Audi

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The new all-electric MINI Countryman is on display at an exhibition hall in Seoul, Thursday. Courtesy of MINI

The new all-electric MINI Countryman is on display at an exhibition hall in Seoul, Thursday. Courtesy of MINI

By Lee Min-hyung

The new MINI Countryman debuted Thursday with a bigger body size and an iconic round OLED display, joining the tight competition for the premium small SUV market against Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

The third-generation Countryman was unveiled after a seven-year hiatus from its predecessor. The vehicle maintained MINI's symbolic exterior identity, but added a minimalist and modern sentiment to its design. The new vehicle increased its overall body size and is equipped with Samsung Display's 9.4-inch-diameter round OLED.

MINI is expected to ramp up its game against its market rivals, such as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Audi Q4.

The smaller brand of BMW Group aims to revive sluggish market sentiment with the new Countryman. According to data from the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association, the Countryman secured the top spot in the imported premium small SUV market here. Its sales came in at 1,151 for the first four months combined this year, outnumbering its rivals, the A-Class and Q4 e-tron.

MINI is also betting big on the electric vehicle (EV) industry with plans to launch an all-electric MINI Cooper and MINI Countryman this year.

Oliver Heilmer, head of MINI Design, underscored the new MINI family's design identity of charismatic simplicity, which is the brand's core value amid its ongoing transition to an EV maker.

The company also spoke highly of its partnership with Samsung Display for the development of the OLED display.

"It took four years for us to develop the round OLED display for MINI," Lim Ji-soo, an engineer at Samsung Display, said during the event. "Our know-how in developing smart watches and technologies for smartphones helped us develop the mid-sized round OLED display for MINI."

The new MINI Countryman also features the latest operating system (OS) — the MINI 9 — offering more convenient driving experiences for customers. The OS operates Tmap-based navigation services. Tmap is the most-beloved navigation app among Korean drivers.

MINI unveiled its MINI family lineup during the media event. They include a new three-door gasoline Cooper model and electrified versions of MINI Cooper and Countryman.

Lee Min-hyung


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