Now that I've had my Countryman for two whole snow storms, I figured it would be a good time to share my thoughts on the ALL4 (All Wheel Drive system) as well as how the MINI performs in the snow!
What I like about ALL4:
The single most important thing I love about ALL4 is that I can now have a MINI that's great fun to drive on the road and, I can get to the Vermont house (up our very icy, sometimes unplowed, fairly steep road) in the middle of winter. My other favorite part of the ALL4 option is that on the throttle in snow, you can actually rotate the back end of the car around, which makes it (for me) much more fun to drive then a non ALL4 equipped MINI.
What I don't like:
There aren't many downfalls to the All4 but I'm going to be a little overly critical for a second. For starters, the gas mileage does suffer a little, but not by much, as I achieved 34MPG on my way home from VT this past weekend. Also, there isn't a light or warning to tell you the ALL4 is being used. Because the system is so smooth to engage, most of the time I can't even tell when it's sending power to the front or all the wheels.
Like I said, none of these gripes are anywhere near a flaw, I really do enjoy having the added safety / fun with the All4 and I would recommend it to anyone who lives in the North East or anywhere else that has a lot of snow.
So what's it like in the snow?
While driving Kowalski in Vermont this past weekend, I did hear quite a bit of the car scraping the snow underneath. The aero kit and the sport suspension options are not helping with that I am sure. Even though I did have a minor ground clearance issue, Kowalski was excellent in the snow, he even went through a spot without a problem where our Suburban got stuck. I also find that the ABS does a good job handling the braking in less than ideal conditions (downhill on ice).
As a side note to anyone that has the manual transmission like me, I find that if you leave the DSC on while on ice and the system cuts the power, it will stall you out. What I find to be most effective is hitting the DSC button once (putting Traction Control in Dynamic mode) or turning it off all together.
This is a video of Kowalski in the snow taken few weeks ago... (I kept reversing because I didn't want to rip up the grass, which I couldn't exactly see under the snow)
P.S. I found this on YouTube, I don't endorse any of the actions occurring in the video! :)