What happens when two crossovers cross each other's path? Well, we just had to find out which is the better crosser.
Photos: Low Fai Ming
On paper, both of these cars look almost identical. Both of them feature turbocharged 1.6 litre engines, blending a practical road car with several offroading elements thrown into their designs. Are all crossovers created equal? To find out more, we had to dive deeper.
In the looks department, the Juke beats the Mini by having a much bolder design. Full of curvaceous styling, complete with steep angles, the Juke seemingly looks like the newer model when compared to the Countryman. With that said however, the more conventional-looking Countryman has an air of a classic styling around it. It also looks stouter than the Juke, with its squared-off face and non-sloping roof line.
Despite their differences, both cars share similar design details such as flared wheel arches, bulging bonnets, light scattering of chrome trim to liven things up and big wheels. We think that the Juke's rear end looks a lot more stylish than the Mini, with the styling seemingly giving it the “wide-body” effect. The Mini however, fights back with twin tailpipes, an extended bumper and a roof spoiler for great visual effect.
The Countryman has the bigger wheels, 18" vs the Juke's 17". Also, since the Countryman has run-flat tyres, the ride quality does suffer over rough roads, whereas the Juke feels softer and less jarring. However, the punishment the Juke gets is more bodyroll around the corners. Now can you choose between them based on looks? Hardly, if you ask us. The Juke certainly pushes the envelope of car design to the limits (although we do think they might have just tried too hard), while the Mini is trying to stick to its roots in terms of design.
Inside however, the Mini begins to shine. Although it has a seat less than the Juke, the rear passengers in the Countryman have more head and legroom. As mentioned in our review, the Countryman can be ordered with three rear seats at the expense of the center rail storage system. The Juke, despite having three seats, feels a bit cramped when full, but it is still an extra seat. However, both of these cars have roughly similar amounts of space for the front seats, which is spacious by any measure.
Inside both cars however, it is the Countryman that shows more personality than the Juke, with colours to choose from for the trim and seats, while the Juke's interior is only offered in one colour. Pop the boot lids and the Juke shows less swallow space than the Countryman. The Countryman's boot space space may look smaller than the Juke, but it has less suspension intrusion into the boot space itself and has extra storage space below it. As far as ergonomics go, the Juke's more “traditional” layout will bode well with simpletons, whereas the Countryman's switch layout will take some getting used to.
When it comes to power stakes, the 187 hp Juke has three horses more than the Countryman. Also, the Juke feels much more responsive to acceleration because all the power is just sent to the front wheels. The Countryman feels bogged down by its all-wheel drive system that sends the power primarily to the front wheels, however it will lay a line through corners that the Juke can only hope to follow.
The Countryman gives the most engaging drive too, with good steering feel and feedback. Also, while the sporty suspension gives a rougher ride, it is much more enjoyable round tight bends with the Countryman barely exhibiting any body roll. The Juke however, is the softer car that we can live with happily for daily commuting. The cost that comes with this softness however, is a rather vague and light steering, together with body roll through the corners.
We could had driven the wheels off these crossovers, but it is very hard to pick one clear winner. While the Countryman is dynamically superior to the Juke, it falls short on everyday road behaviour. The Juke on the other hand, is a perfect everyday cruiser, effortlessly going from point A to B without kicking up a fuss. As looks go, it is hard to choose between them though, but the Mini has an upper hand with a more acceptable look.
We mentioned that both cars had 1.6 litre engines. While the Countryman's engine is at 1,598cc, the Juke's engine capacity is at 1,618cc. With Singapore's Certificate Of Entitlement structure, the Countryman would slip into Category A and the Juke DIG-T goes into Category B. That said, the Countryman is about S$47,000 dearer than the Juke, but we feel that the difference is worth it.