Mini, a company that has long been known for it’s peppy, turbocharged four-cylinder engines, has just announced it will be releasing a high-performance version of its miniature CUV. Labeled as the John Cooper Works Countryman, this second generation of the oversized hatchback is one of the more intriguing developments beneath the badge, and looks to be one hell of a fun driver’s car.
Being that it is the largest model in the Mini lineup, it only made sense that this vehicle needed to be taking a JCW approach to performance with a stronger powertrain, more open exhaust, retuned suspension, bigger brakes, and alluring aesthetics both outside and within. The result is a redesigned, second-generation Countryman that appears to be ready to rally … literally.
According to Mini, a JCW Countryman will feature a 228 horsepower motor that cranks out 258 pound-feet of torque, making it the most powerful engine ever to be fitted beneath a Mini hood ornament. Once attached to a standard All4 all-wheel drive system and a robust six-speed manual transmission (an eight-speed Steptronic automatic is an option), short shifts are set to become even shorter with this model.
The All4 system’s electronic control unit is also linked to a Dynamic Stability Control setup that ensures solid responses at all times when splitting power between the front and rear wheels. This means the car runs on just the front wheels most of the time and only engages the hang-on clutch when it’s necessary to kick torque to the back end. All together, this means a JCW Countryman can sprint to 60 mph in just 6.2 seconds with either transmission, making it almost a full second faster than a normal All4-equipped Countryman.
In order to reach numbers of this caliber, the new BMW TwinPower Turbo engine developed for JCW models had to be outfitted with unique pistons, a larger charge-air cooler, and an additional radiator. A sports exhaust system was also added in order to provide visual, audible, and performance enhancements courtesy of custom piping and a controllable exhaust flap.
The optional JCW calibrated sports suspension features tactfully tuned dampening on all four corners and a speed-dependent Servotronic steering setup that aids both high-speed turns and parking lot peel-outs. As for the stopping side, world-renowned brake specialist Brembo was tapped to produce a custom four-piston caliper setup for the front hubs, which encase specialized pads and are finished in red.
Standard trims receive a one-off aero kit with large air inlets, 18-inch black alloy wheels, JCW sport seats with integrated headrests, a branded steering wheel and gear selector, and a roof liner in anthracite. Included with all this is a special JCW welcome exhibition, as well as a custom heads-up display. A 19-inch wheel upgrade remains optional.
2017 marks the 50-year anniversary of the last of three wins by the classic Mini at the Monte Carlo Rally, thus making the John Cooper Works Countryman a key player in the “further success in this discipline.” In true Mini fashion there will also be a competition version developed by the automaker and the X-raid Team in order to compete in long-distance rallies, starting with the grueling 2017 Dakar Rally.
Official presentation to the public is currently slated to take place this April at the Shanghai Motor Show, with vehicles arriving at U.S. dealerships shortly thereafter. We thoroughly enjoyed the Mini JCW Hardtop and feel that once this version goes on sale, it should offer an extra-strong serving of the ingenuity that makes the brand so enjoyable. It’s a niche market that has developed a longing for luxury, a lust for performance, a need for small CUV sizing, and an undeniable interest in quirkiness, all of which the John Cooper Works Countryman has in spades.