So yeah, you get the point: The Countryman is generally a blast to drive. The interior experience, though, can feel dicier. Don't get me wrong, the all-leather trim and seats are comfortable enough, and there's more cargo space and headroom than in prior models. Still, I can't get over how clumsy the infotainment and navigation system can be. Most of the time you'll probably use the control dial down by your right side, and it works well enough. Using the touchscreen (available as part of the $2,200 "Technology" package) is a total pain, though.
The interface, especially when it comes to navigation, rarely sticks to touch-based interaction norms, and accessing submenus can be tricky at best. Unless you're not in a rush to get somewhere, you'll almost certainly want to use your smartphone for navigation. If you do decide to use the built-in navigation, you'll at least get the next direction on the list (along with current speed) on a reflective heads-up display that rises up from the dash in front of you. Companies are clearly aware of the difficulties that come with crafting software for in-car use, but man: It still feels like we're a long way from truly good, intuitive car interfaces.
All told, the Countryman hybrid is far from perfect. I wish I could wring more than 12 miles out of the battery, and a gas tank wasn't smaller than a regular Mini's would've been nice. Still, the stuff it gets right is considerable — BMW squeezed a lot of fun into a compact package. For people looking for a more thrilling way to be green, this might just do the trick.