2011 Mini Countryman: Why Is It So Expensive?
August 31, 2011
Why is the Mini Countryman so expensive? Well, for one, it can be because people are willing to pay a premium for the Mini name and image. However, there's more to it than that. Drive the Countryman or even just close its door, and it immediately feels like a more solidly engineered and sophisticated machine than other compact SUV-ish things. That costs more money to create.
There's another reason as well. The other night I was watching "How It's Made" on Science Channel. In between pretzels and nautical toilets was a segment about car seats. Although they didn't call out the manufacturer, the factory in question was clearly making Mini seats. It was immediately apparent why placing your butt in a Mini may be a tad pricier than something else: the immense variety.
There are more than 400 seat variations in total, starting with two different seat designs in the Cooper, plus a presumably different seat for the Countryman. They can be heated and non-heated. They can be covered in leatherette vinyl, cloth, cloth and leather, leather or upgraded "Lounge" leather. There are various different colors and patterns, which vary by model as well. All of it must also be coordinated to a very specific car. Going beyond seats, think of all the various factory-installed trim pieces and options a customer can order. That's an immense amount of complexity, and that costs more money.
By contrast, in a Honda CR-V you have cloth or leather, heated or non-heated, and a choice of grey, black or tan. Each is coordinated to a specific trim level or even exterior color. You want a grey interior with a green exterior? Too bad.
So I think that sums up at least part of a reason a Mini is so expensive: You have to pay for customization.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor