The New 2011 Mini Countryman proves saftey record.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced today that Mini's latest model, the Countryman compact SUV, has earned the agency's highest safety designation of Top Safety Pick. That means the Countryman earned scores of Good in front, side and rear crash tests as well as roof-strength tests and has an electronic stability system.

The Countryman is the first Mini model to get the award. In the past, the Mini Cooper hardtop earned scores of Acceptable in side crash tests and roof-strength tests.

The federal government has not yet tested any Mini model under its new crash-test parameters.

The results from IIHS should provide a slight boost to Mini's mainstream appeal. While Mini has enjoyed niche success, many potential buyers have been put off by the cars' diminutive size, which some correlate to being unsafe. The Top Safety Pick designation should help with that, along with the overall larger size of the Countryman.

Last month, the new Countryman was the second-best-selling Mini, registering sales of 886 units. The traditional Cooper hardtop sold 1,931 units, and the Clubman wagon 427 units.

The Mini Cooper Countryman, the brand’s recently-introduced four-passenger compact crossover, has earned the Institute’s top safety award after achieving “good” ratings for front, side, rollover, and rear impact protection.

It is the first Mini to win, and the second model from parent BMW Group to achieve top results since the Institute tightened the criteria to include good performance for roof strength in rollover crashes.

The first model to attain this distinction was the 2011 F10 5 Series. In testing, the roof of the Countryman withstood a force equal to nearly 5times the car’s approximately 3000-pound weight. By comparison, the current federal standard is 1.5-times weight.

This puts the Countryman on par with other models in the segment, including the Volkswagen Tiguan, the newly-redesigned Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, and better than two key Japanese competitors, the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, which were rated “acceptable” and “marginal,” respectively. Acura’s small premium crossover RDX achieved a Good rating in Frontal Offset and Side Impact testing, but has not yet been tested under the new Roof Strength guidelines.

In addition to good crash test ratings, winners must have electronic stability control (ESC), an important crash-avoidance feature, which is standard on the Countryman. The Countryman is all-new for the 2011 model year and marks the brand’s entry into the crossover segment. Available with front- or all-wheel drive, the model is currently on sale at a base price of $22,350.

Source: IIHS


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